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