One of the great challenges coaching a high school sporting academy, when you see students every week for up to 7 hours, is keeping content fresh whilst still achieving beneficial coaching outcomes.
Last week I tried something a little different and away from the Basic Skill Development (BSD) drilling aspect of what I had been doing with the students over the first 3 weeks of term (I'll revisit that and what I do in another post).
WHAT WAS IT
With a group of 18 students, we held a 3 v 3 Tennis Ball Championships.
WHY DID I DO IT
Tennis balls are a great tool to aid in batting, particularly in the early parts of pre-season. They require you to wait for the ball late before you hit it, and ensure that you also hit the ball hard (batting is about scoring runs!).
The other key focus here was front foot play, so we incorporated a rule that meant if the ball bounced above the knee, it was a no ball.
HOW DID I DO IT
We set up the Topline Cricket Centre 6-lane facility as below (along with my session scribble);
The rules were;
- 3 players per team
- 6 over game
- All 3 batsmen are active
- Must bowl under-arm - if the ball bounces above the knee it's a no-ball
We incorporated bonus zones, which were worth 10 runs each;
- You get 3 zones per team (all in front of the wicket)
- If you get out, you lose a zone, but all batters keep batting
- Once you lose all your zones, then batters are out - last man standing applies
- You don't need to run when you hit it into a zone
- You can be out caught, bowled, run out, stumped, 1 hand/1 bounce (incorporated later and worked very well), top net on the full
HOW'D IT GO?
I reckon it went really well and achieved our desired outcomes, which were playing the ball late and hitting the ball hard into scoring areas.
The smart batters who played the ball late were able to milk the ball behind the wicket also, and all of this was done implicitly with no coach intervention once we got going. Small teams, everyone active - it made for a hectic, yet engaging experience for all of the boys involved.
WHAT WOULD I DO DIFFERENTLY NEXT TIME?
There are a multitude of variations, but I'll be adding over-arm throwing next session to encourage front and back foot play.
I'll also expand the playing area whilst keeping team numbers low to encourage more running and space to hit the ball.