Ask the Readers: Reveal How to Improve Your Fielding and Win a Prize!

 We all have to field, and being a good fielder brings the advantage of getting ahead of others: Selectors tend to pick the better fielder in close match ups.

If you are passionate about cricket, you are passionate about being the best fielder you can be, so how do you do it?

And that is my Ask the Readers question for this week: How do you improve your fielding?

I want to create as large a list as possible of fielding tips from you the readers to go alongside our already detailed fielding section. So let’s use the comments section of this article to post some ideas on ways you can approach fielding to get better.

The best answer given before the end of the week (Friday June 15th 2012) will win a prize of 3 free cricket coaching eBooks from PitchVision Academy, so you will get plenty of reward for posting a great tip, trick, mental technique or just good common sense.

So, leave a comment in the box, help us build a great fielding comunity and good luck winning a prize!

If you liked this article you'll love Mark Garaway's First Class Fielding.The guide contains the latest research into fielding, and how to successfully apply new throwing and catching methods to players from international to school levels.

Click Here for More About First Class Fielding

Comments

When the ball is about to be hit, you want to get into the soccer goalkeeper position. Lower your body weight, head forward and hands ready and presented in front to the body ready for the ball. Balanced on the balls of your feet.Practice single and double hand catching.
Ground balls, bouncing balls.Master your throwing technique for accuracy and control.

That's a great tip, your setup position when fielding in the ring can help you dive or turn much more quickly. I remember Pietersen had problems catching when he first got in the England team because he wasn't getting into that position and was off balance. It makes a huge difference.

In a limited overs match we are obliged to give it our best in the field for a full innings, which is significantly more time than we spend bowling and almost always more than we spend batting. I think we can approach fielding from several angles.

Preparation:
There is no harm in writing out a list of objectives such as high catches, slip catches, catches running back over your head, underarm return to the keeper/direst hit, overarm return/direct hit, and so on. It is often a good idea to start off with a tennis ball - this ensures your technique is sound and doesn't hurt! You can then move on to using a rubber ball and finally move on to using a cricket ball. This way the transition is made at a comfortable pace. With lots of practice you build confidence which will really help you when it comes to a match situation. Therefore, like most aspects of the game, purposeful practice (where you work in regions outside of your comfort zones) is directly proportional to results obtained.

Technique:
This can be learnt from any of the Pitchvision fielding courses/ articles online or even from random videos on the web. I'll just run over some basics but it'd be very difficult to write an exhaustive list. Remember to get body behind the ball (normally in the form of the long barrier but different if you are attacking the ball). Catching the ball above shoulder level for high catches is very important. Walking in with the bowler (unless you are a close catcher) is a really effective way to stop the batsmen from taking quick singles. In general, it is better to stay low and keep yourself balanced. Looking to follow through when you throw means you get a lot more power. Also using your front arm when throwing overarm results in more accuracy and power. Remember to stay alert for when you might have to cover the stumps at the bowler's or keeper's end. In addition be ready to back up at all times and also keep in mind the possibility of the ball deflecting off the stumps.

Mental:
It's important to want the ball to come to you. This shows your team members and more importantly yourself that you are confident and ready for a catch/ run out chance. Another method employed by internationals is to visualise yourself taking that incredible diving catch, or better still remind yourself of excellent catches you've taken in training sessions. This again boosts your confidence. Just like when batting it is often a good idea to switch on and switch off between balls. Sometimes you have to take initiative and expect a quick single/ big shot depending on who is at the crease.

Fitness:
Like other aspects of cricket, you can enhance your fielding by working on your fitness. It's amazing how much stronger your throw can become with a suitable work out. Also practising sprints is a good idea. Warming up and down combined with stretching means you are less likely to get injured. Lots of club cricketers tend to neglect the lower body and core and focus only on the upper body - try not to do this.

Miscellaneous:
When fielding square of the wicket, remember that the ball is likely to spin sharply after bouncing.
As a fielder it is your job to appeal with the bowler and support him/her - this leads to good team spirit. If you get a chance, try to shine the ball as well. I would recommend wearing a cap and if applicable wearing sunglasses. If you wear glasses, then having a handkerchief means you can wipe off rain droplets which can affect visibility. If you pick up a small injury especially to your hand then try to get some ice on it as soon as you can - this could well hamper you for many weeks as it is exigent to rest it if you continue to play!

As is mentioned by Dave, fielding might be the reason you are selected over another player. In general, having a good day in the field means you will be full of confidence when you come on to bowl or when you go out to bat. Regardless of whether you get to bowl or bat you can be guaranteed that you'll have to field for a full innings!

Some great advice so far but I would want a short, snappy bit of advice. For me the key to improving your fielding is wanting to get involved. Try to be doing something on every ball, whether it's chasing down the ball, supporting the man fielding, hanging back half way for a bad throw or backing up an end.

Attack the ball at every opportunity and try to make something happen.

Thats one thing I emphasise - every fielder try to make themselves useful every ball. It just keeps everyone busy, keeps the energy up, and it helps everyone concentrate and ejoy the fielding.

I think you have mentioned the key there, AB. ENJOY - if you don't fielding is hard work.

To be a great fielder, it takes being both mentally and physically fit. Due to the demands required, example high concentration and athleticism. You need to always be in the game, its bad when you get caught flat footed because your concentration levels were poor and they take the quick single, but that being said, its even worst when you missed a catch by a fingertip because you failed to put in the dive (Outcome: the batsman goes on to get a big hundred). So here's my advice: Meditate/Visualize (There's a Yoga Pose Called the Corpse Position) It helps me concentrate for longer periods, basically you lie flat on your back and control your breathing. Its a great exercise, trust me!!! Its also vital to stay hydrated, so if i know I got a game tomorrow, I would start getting lots of fluid in the system from the night before, as well as before and during the match. Cross training; in terms of racket sports, tennis, table tennis, badminton, even hockey. All those sport en corporate hand eye coordination, agility training,(develops cardio vascular and overall fitness) which are vital to taking those brilliant catches, and keeps you agile in the field, they also improve your batting to an extent. And ending it of i believe the harder you train the easier it becomes, for instance the fielding drills should be at a higher intensity than the actual game, lot of scenarios should be implemented in the training, so when a situation comes up in the game, you would easily be on top of it; easy as eating breakfast you do it everyday Laughing out loud

I think you HAVE to make fielding fun because otherwise its a long old day.

One of the things we do is to really strongly emphasise backing up the stumps and working together to generate run outs. We never criticise people for shying at the stumps even if its a terrible throw and the guy was easily in anyway, we encourage people to take a chance and just let it fly. We try to get one decent shot at the stumps each over, and the fielders communicate as to who is backing up who. It saves a lot of runs, it generates wickets, its great practice, and it keeps everyone involved. People want to field the ball because they want a go at hitting the stumps. Its amazing how often a direct hit leads to a wicket.

I've been in teams before where people were shouted at for shying and giving away overthrows. All that does is stop people throwing altogether and allows the batsmen unlimited quick singles. Overthrows are the person backing up's fault in my book.

AB, spot on with your run out comments. We always look for run outs to be one of the leading wicket takers over the course of a (junior) season. Main reason is that in junior cricket you are often rotating bowlers and they only have a max of 24 balls in a T20 game anyway, yet the fielders may have 120 potential run out opportunities.

Much as concentration is an issue, its also important to learn how to switch off in the way a batter would. The trick is getting younger cricketers to know that the point to switch off is when the ball is effectively dead, not if it just hasn't been hit in their direction.

So all the fielding drills we do emphasise the vital part backing up plays, overthrows are rarely the throwers fault and we also never criticise an attempt at the stumps. Also, using 180 degree drills that encourage backing up will get players to understand the 'flow' of fielding

Hello this is varun , here are a few tips and practices which i use to improve my fielding , hope it helps.

I divide my fielding practice into CATCHING , COLLECTING and THROWING

1)CATCHING-The most important tip would be to watch the ball hard and try to get your head and hands as close as possible which brings in control.

A good way to practice this would be to practice slip catching with a wall using a tennis ball using only 1 hand , both sides , fingers pointing up and down .Same can be done with high catching as well.Also i would use reaction balls to train my reaction catching which are fun as well.
You can inculcate this in your normal team catching sessions apart from training it alone.

2)COLLECTING-The most basic thing i would say would be to get your body behind the line of the ball which again helps you to be in control of the ball.

*Taking a start - Apart from getting into a nice low base , i would rather prefer to just walk 2-3 steps instead pf 10 steps to get into the same set position . Imagine the amount of energy saved over a 90 over game !
*Skills - Various skills like Long barrier (on the right knee).the traditional side on pickup,sliding,relay throws,diving ,boundary stopping need to be mastered by having specific sessions focusing on them.Also work on all possible angles with a good coach.

3)THROWING- The key here is to have an accurate and a powerful throw.Go for the 12'o'clock throw rather than the 9'o clock one .

A good practice would be to just use your throwing arm (and not your non throwing arm) to throw which would help to increase the distance.For accuracy practice throwing to a single stump from as as much distance as you like (the longer the better).Also train your underarm throw on the both the strong and the weak sides.Dont forget the wrist flick drills.

EXTRA TIPS
-The easiest way to learn is to learn by watching the greats.
-In fielding confidence level is everything , the more the practice the more is the confidence.
-Groove technique individually, then take it to team fielding sessions and finally to a match.
-Do fielding in the beginning of a cricket session and make it as close to a match as possible.
-Learn to switch on and off while fielding-great tip to maintain concentration levels in a match -Relax , keep encouraging yourselves and other mates in between.Also keep changing your field position by having a say with other teammates if you feel bored.
-Train sprinting mechanics and get fit as fielding demands great fitness levels
-Backing up is an important art as well so dont forget it !
-The best fielders in the world enjoy fielding a lot.Go on train technique and enjoy it as much as you can.

This is a Jonty Rhodes masterclass in fielding.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ppk84W1-2Y&feature=related
As Jonty Rhodes mentions practising these skills is very important.
It's extremely useful. Found it a few days ago and used all of the tips in a match nothing went past me.
Personally, I would say that if you work on your pick up with your weaker hand nothing will get past you. The most important aspect for catching is catching the ball close to your eyes, another important factor to catching is to guide the ball into your hand and not snatch at it.

If we're going to simply post videos then this is a great one with current and up to date drills:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzMxlkHNJ0M&feature=player_embedded

The very best way to improve your fielding skills, is to play indoor cricket!!!!,, fielding is arguably the most import part of the game, you learn to react extremely quickly(even when the ball is hit straight at you at very high speeds) and you learn to watch the ball very closely, you also learn the most efficient way to throw the ball into the keepers/bowlers hand such as back flicks \,under the legs, left hand, right hand throws... and Indoor cricket makes fielding extremely fun!

This is a major reason why Martin Guptill is such a good fielder, he used to represent new zealand at indoor cricket!

gr8 tips varun .I would say that practicing grooving your FIELDING technique would be a great tip .Have access to the right coaching ,master the basics ,watch videos and ur fielding would go to next levels .As far as practice is concerned i would say 1 hour of DELIBERATE practice would be more than enough.

I am loving these tips, especially AB's extremely well argued case for shying at the stumps. As I always say to fielders who I can see are drifting - "Stay in the Game!"

Keep them coming. The collective mind of the PitchVision Academy is brilliant.

If a batsman hits a ball into the covers, how many fielders are in play?

1. Cover, who sprints to pick up the ball.
2. Extra cover, who runs to back up.
3. Gulley/boundary sweeper, who back up the mis-field
4. The keeper running to the stumps.
5. Square leg backing up the throw
6. Fine leg, backing up the throw.
6. Slip, backing up the throw.
7. Mid on, backing up the throw to the bowler's end
8. Mid off, trying to get to the bowler's end stumps
9. Mid-wicket - choose which end to back up.

In short, every fielder can be involved depending on where the ball is hit and what action is required. Fielding drills in practice need to be set up to emphasise that fielding is not just an individual pursuit but a team activity. The techniques of catching, stopping and throwing are skills that can be practiced alone but putting together drills that include them within appropriate match situations, e.g. chasing a ball to the boundary, sliding, flicking it back to a colleague who chased it with you, relaying it back to the keeper, with others backing up, put the skills into context.

For young cricketers, the more sliding, diving and shying at stumps you can include, the more fun it becomes, which is important. It also leads to more run outs and more runs saved in matches when done well. I'm in the have a go camp when it comes to shying at the stumps. As long as a team is well drilled, there will always be someone backing up the stumps when a fielder has a shy. It keeps the batsman honest and often gets a run out.

You need to confident and positive you need to think about your succesful moments in cricket in your career which gives you enthusiasum while playing.Use biomechanics to throw a ball with very means pulling the from arm which is some similar to non bowling arm pull in fast bowling.our head and neck position should be straight. Your eyes should be still and horizontal to ground.Move with bowler which gives prepares your body to move easily to chase ball.Use goggles while fielding to shoot the wickets accurately.Relax between balls in over.Discuss with your team mates or senior players about mistakes in fielding.Appreciate your team mate when he takes a good catch which fills team spirit and confidence in team mates.After match team mates should meet and discuss half an hour about thier days play and fieldg,positions,role.

A coach once told me to think as field as an extension of your batting every run saved in the field you can mentally add to your runs made when it is your chance to bat. I found that that simple piece of advice meant I was switched on every ball, wanted the ball every ball and as such the I found fielding more enjoyable I was in the right places on the field to get the ball.

What makes the best fielders in the world ? their ability to dive and throw themselves all around the park.Think of some great names in fielding without a good dive - doesnt make sense.You have to have a good dive in order to be the best fielder.The thing is if you approach fielding from a wicketkeepers point of view , you are definitely gonna gain a lot.See AB De Villiers ,Kieswetter,Adam gilchrist -taking great diving catches .Next time you feel guilt for not making that effort in the field try some wicketkeeping drills focusing on diving takes which are good not only for improving Ur dive but also ur catching as well .If you practice hard takes as a wicketkeeper you are definitely gonna be a good slip fielder .Yes u can go to a goalkeeper but a wicketkeeper makes it far more cricket specific. good luck!

At the beginning of each season I ask the players about fielding "Are you part of the attack or defense when fielding?" I then constantly remind them of this as the season goes by.

I agree with those people who say fielding is an attitude thing. Only they can control their attitude and if they don't like fielding then they have a problem. I have seen some very good players with bat and ball or both, give away runs in the field because of their attitude.

For those wondering what the answer to the question was - it is attack, even when you are defending the boundary rope, you can always cause a run out stop a certain four or take a stunning catch.

One final point. Buy a Crazy Catch (or two) and see how much fun you can have with. I recently did a session with an u11s group and we had great fun for 30 minutes doing various drills. They worked really hard and their catching and reactions improved.

Rob

I'd say there are moments to attack and moments to defend when fielding. Of course you are always looking for catches and run outs, but often you have to balance risk and reward.

Attacking the ball with a pickup and throw in one movement is very attacking but can backfire.

It might be better in those moments to hedge your bets a little more and use a long barrier to stop the boundary before thinking about the run out.

But that is situation and skill dependant. See here for more of my thoughts: http://www.pitchvision.com/ground-fielding-tactics

David

Don't get the wrong end of the stick here. Yes you will have defensive fields and yes they will need to do a long barrier - but they sre still part of the attack!

Get the idea ingrained in your players.

Rob

Yes I think we fundamentally agree that fielders are there to take wickets first. Everyone should be thinking like that.

Today is your last chance to win. Get your tips in quick!

My coaches encourage diving because they believe that the men on the boundary are the most important when stopping runs. If your on the boundary and if you can run quick enough then dive to stop the ball nothing will ever get past you. Now think about having your usual field set if everyone of these men were to dive for the ball nothing would go for four runs, this puts a lot of pressure on the batsmen who will eventually attempt to hit everything over the top for six creating oppurtunities for catches. And as they say "Catches win matches!"

Would just like to add to my article that while diving try to cut down the angle which the ball travels by standing a liitle bit closer to the wicket and try keeping a goal in you mind for the amount of runs saved in the field and keep increasing them every match.

Try to only walk in three or four steps with the bowler. At the point of release get into the set position - doing these two things will give you the best chance of stopping the ball.

Congratulations to AB. email me to claim your prize. http://www.pitchvision.com/ask-the-readers-fielding-competition-winner

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