How many runs could you save for your team if you have the reactions and technique of Suresh Raina?
Many people will write of an ambition like this as far-fetched. They will say he has a God-given talent that few can emulate. But in reality the truth is that Raina’s “talent” is the result of hard work and passion for the most selfless cricket skill; fielding.
So if you want to get the edge over your peers, use these tips to become the best fielder in your team. It will give you a clear advantage.
Have a plan, measure results
Good fielding is a combination of athleticism, technique, vision, reactions and concentration. Each element needs individual work and they also need bringing together into an overall plan that you can measure your improvement.
This is more than doing a few drills before you have your net. You need to identify your strong and weak areas, decide how much work to do on each one and then regularly measure performance.
Improve your concentration
Many times I have seen a player with the skill and ability to field well but with a weakness of “switching off” and being surprised when the ball arrives. This is just a matter of improving your concentration.
While it’s accepted no one can increase their amount of laser-focus, you can improve how you manage that focus. Here’s a simple, measurable drill. For a more systematic approach to improving cricket concentration and stop getting distracted, click here.
Become more athletic
General athleticism has several fielding benefits; ability to stay focused, able to react faster and cover more ground. In short, it makes you better physically and mentally for the task of fielding.
Areas you need to focus on are mobility, endurance, speed and power. Make sure you are regularly testing these elements with fielding drills that put you under physical pressure (and keep score to track improvements).
Overload your system
You can put your technique under pressure by over-fielding. By that I mean make fielding harder than it would be in a game so real fielding seems easier. For example a slip may stand 15 yards away from the bat in a match. When practicing slip catching, start 15 yards away but move closer and closer until the fielder is feeling slightly uncomfortable at how close he is standing. When he goes back to 15 yards he will find it much easier.
Combine these techniques with regular catching and fielding practice and your skills will develop fast. You will find you start to love fielding, which makes you practice more and get better.