How to Use a Tennis Ball to Improve Your Catching in 5 Minutes

Tennis balls: bright, light and fluffy; obvious descriptions.

But what is not discussed is how much harder they are to catch than cricket balls when at speed.

Try it.

Cricketers won’t admit this because everyone knows a cricket ball is one of the most dangerous things in the universe, but it’s true!

Because they are so light and have high rebound properties, they take more skill to catch than a heavy and hard cricket ball.

To catch a tennis ball at speed you need to exaggerate all the technical elements used when catching a cricket ball correctly.

I first thought of this drill after seeing Gary Kirsten firing tennis balls at a batsman in the nets using a racket, simply to replicate the speed generated by a fast bowler when the delivery is full.

It got me thinking how using the same method could test and develop your reactions to close and infield catches.

By simply allowing the ball to drop and hitting it on the half volley towards the fielder using a forehand shot, it allows the coach or team mate to quickly develop your ability to react at intercepting the ball.

This is an easy and fun drill to practise; all you need is a tennis ball, a racket and a willing partner.

Dropped catches

What also became clear was that the success in holding the catch was lower than normal.

We dropped more catches with a tennis ball.

This was because the ball rebounds quicker out the hand than a cricket ball.

That’s great because you need to improve their co-ordination in holding the ball as well as your reactions.

For me this drill is a great way to warm up the reactions and eyes on a  cold day, when nobody wants a hard ball flying at their cold hands. 

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Comments

good idea this, i think i'll be adding some of these to our pre season nets and pre game warmups!

A tennis serving machine can also be great for batting practice, especially for youngsters. They are much cheaper than a bowling machine and can be used outside the nets. Aimed to pitch at the right spot for a particular shot, they give you the chance to work out kinks in technique and really groove a shot. Due to the different bounce of the ball they are more useful for front foot shots or full tosses.

just a thought but if you are using a tennis ball in your practice how much time do you then spend with a proper ball to ''harden up the hands'' as it were? especially at this point in the year when people havent touched a ball for a while. i start our nets this week and cant decide whether to do catching with tennis balls to improve reactions or proper balls to get people used to them again

Whether with U10s or with 1st X1 players I always start with tennis balls - nothing to do with soft hands or fear but simply due to gaining proper technique.

Whatever the age catching a tennis ball demands 'give' with the hands which must always be good technique whatever ball is used.

Guess you will be in Sportshall so plenty of walls for balls to bounce off - masses of fun to be had while improving technique - plus opportunity for touch of competition being brought into practice for those who relish that input.

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