Over the years I've had a variety of players, coaches and onlookers tell me how centre wicket training is "boring" or "not engaging enough".
This has always puzzled me... Isn't that why we slave away in the nets, to get the opportunity to "play" in the middle?
Even though I find it somewhat puzzling, I understand, because it is easy for centre wicket training to go through the motions or players to get "frustrated" because they aren't hitting/bowling as many balls as they normally would in the nets.
Here's 3 ways you can make your centre wicket training great again!
#1 - Mini Games within a Game
Commonly known as "game sense" or "scenario" training, this is the easiest way to engage your players from the start to the end of training.
There are literally a million different combinations you can go with.
To get started, pick the length of the scenario (I'd suggest 4-6 overs as a range), the game situation (new or old ball, start of the day, just before tea, spinners on, etc), then pick your target.
Here's an example; middle overs of a one day game (4 overs in this scenario), spinners bowling from both ends, 5 runs an over required.
#2 - Consequences
Closely aligned to the scenarios above, if you go through the motions and players can get away with bad batting or poor bowling, then you lose the intensity really, really quickly.
Place some consequences on the players. If you get out, you are out. If you bowl a wide, you go from bowling with a new ball to an old ball for the rest of the over.
This won't be popular early, but I promise you will see a higher level of intensity and application from the entire group.
#3 - Make it Uncomfortable
Easier said than done, eh?
Well, comfort comes in the form of being in an environment we do not feel threatened, and can stay within our comfort zones.
For instance, how much do your tail enders despise facing the opening bowlers? How much does your opening batter battle against the spinners? How about your number 6 bat who is leg-side dominant, or your bowler who doesn't like bowling to left handers?
Try and create scenarios which make your players have to really work overtime to get through them.
Give these a go at your next training session... I look forward to hearing how it goes!