Net sessions... "You can't have cricket without them", or so goes the mantra!
They are, if we are being honest, a necessity in our game. We have to use them, because how else do you manage 20-30 players in a 90 minute session?
But how can we use them effectively? Here's 3 common net session mistakes, and how you can change your approach for a much more engaging session!
1. No Individual Focus
"Just having a hit" isn't a great way to approach training, and if you (and let's be honest, we all have) been caught doing this, the likelihood you've had a productive, enjoyable session, percentage wise, is pretty low. Let's be frank; 15 minutes of net time hardly translates to you getting into the 90s and hitting everything out of the middle come the weekend!
Always approach your session with an individual focus. Whether that be setting a field for yourself (or the bowler setting one), and trying to rotate the strike, or "locking down" and not getting dismissed, or many, many other different options that you have.
Why is this number 1? Because part of being a successful athlete in any sport is self sufficiency.
2. No Game Based Purpose
Closely linked to #1, this is the classic 2 batters in a net, 4 bowlers and just going through the motions. That isn't training, it's a waste of everyone's time.
What format are you playing on the weekend? How hard is it to set some scenarios for your batters and bowlers?
For example, 1 day game, chasing 4 an over, so 5 overs and you need 20 runs, here's the field set, go. You can basically think of any game scenario, in any format, and set a game based challenge around it.
This will make your net session far more rewarding and also create some healthy competition amongst your players!
3. No Consequences
One of my big, big issues with nets are no consequences. What happens if you knick the first ball on the weekend? Yep, you guessed right.
Now, obviously it's practice, so you don't want training to end as abruptly, but how can you add some consequences, and help batters reset if they are having a rough night?
You could make the batter run a 3, do push ups/sit ups, come to the back of the net and take their front pad off and put it back on again to help them reset.
Whilst the occasional "if you are out, you are out" is fine, it's not the only option to use to place some value on your players wickets.
4. Spinner/Pace Bowler/Swing Bowler/Part Timer
Tell me when, in a game of cricket (aside from Colin "Funky" Miller switching mid over) do you ever face a leg spinner straight after your opening bowler, followed by the reserve teams swing bowler?
Whilst variety is the spice of life (and cricket), providing consistent practice is also important.
A couple of options you can use here are as follows;
- Specific nets for specific bowlers (pace net, medium pace net, spin bowlers net)
- Bowlers bowl multiple balls in a row (3 or 6 - replicate those game scenarios)
One thing I have found from a bowling perspective is if you do get bowlers to bowl an over in a row, their accuracy and thoughtfulness increases and takes away from the "going through the motions". It takes some selling, but players will enjoy it once they get into it. It also means they can bowl for longer also, and increases the quality of everyones training.
What other net training tips do you have? What have you found that works really well?