Squares…with a twist

We have probably all played the catching game ‘squares’ (sometimes called ‘catching tennis’) – two opposing teams trying to throw a ball so that it bounces in the other side’s “square”, and defending by catching the ball before it bounces.

It is a very simple game to develop catching and throwing skills, and one that can be readily modified to challenge the skills of the players involved, by making the target squares larger or smaller, or closer together or further apart, by allowing one hand, one bounce catches, and by changing the type of ball.

But this simple game can easily break down if the initial throwing is poor – rules like “underarm only” and “over head height” seem to get forgotten very quickly.

So this simple variant, from Damo Wilson, is well worth trying.

Introduce a third team as the ‘net’, between the two competing teams.  Encourage the ‘net’ to block low throws; if they can catch the ball, they replace the throwers in playing the game.

In effect, a game of mass ‘piggy-in-the-middle’.

The quality of throws rapidly improved when we tried this, as did the level of competition (and engagement).

Well worth a try, especially if your ‘squares’ degenerates into a game of skittles!

“Running two” – a modified fielding practice that also develops batting stroke placement and decision making.

Back in the summer, one of the teams I coached was having problems picking up singles and twos – their innings progressed by a succession of big hits and run outs – so we developed a game to practice shot placement and decision making.

I called it “run 1, run 2”, because that is what I kept calling out to the batsmen, but you might come up with a better name!

Try it, though – we found that the results were encouraging, and, as with many games, the tactical challenges were as interesting as the technical.

Continue reading “Running two” – a modified fielding practice that also develops batting stroke placement and decision making.

Performance goals – what do you want?

An interesting initiative at our Club this year, in the form of a self-assessment form for all players – strengths, weaknesses, objectives and training needs.

I don’t know yet how many senior players have actually completed their forms, yet (two weeks into our 18 match League programmes) and I do wonder if there will be a need for the Captains to provide a little direction, but I can see a lot of (potential) positives.

In the absence of a Coach working with the senior Club, players will need to rely on self analysis and feedback from team mates.  But I suspect that the main benefit of the exercise will be a better understanding of strengths and weaknesses.

It does not need to run to complex statistical analysis or psychological profiling; just a look at the stats on the Club website will show if you are bowled more often than caught, or if you really are LBW more often than anyone else in the Club.  And from that can come at very least a resolution not to keep hitting the ball in the air.

This is definitely a project I would hope to be able to implement for the older Colts, maybe not now the season is under-way, but perhaps when we start winter nets, in October.  A little self-awareness is probably a good thing for a young player, if it is supported by a well thought out training and development plan.  More work for the coaches, to design group sessions that support multiple development needs (we won’t have the luxury of individual coaching), but a rewarding challenge, I hope, for coach and players.

Continue reading Performance goals – what do you want?