My nickname in India is “Gadget Garaway!”. I’m called that because I always have the heaps of coaching equipment and technology in my rather large kit bag.
One of my favourite kit suppliers is Crazy Catch. I have four different rebound nets and the players at Millfield have become brilliant at working with the equipment to devise their own hitting and fielding drills.
Crazy Catch then asked me to work with Fantastic England Cricketer, Tammy Beaumont to bring the “Think outside the Box” Drills Programme to life.
Tammy and I spent the day together filming recently at Millfield and here is he first of the rebound batting drills from the day.
A quality drill that allows the coach to be connected to the drill as both a ball deliverer and also as a technical coaching eye. The drill has a number of progressions and brings in the concept of decision making using different coloured balls. More about that later.
The set up:
The “Wildchild” Crazy Catch has an “sane” side which provides a consistent rebound back towards the batter.
The coach stands behind and slightly to the offside of the batter. The ball is delivered with the appropriate speed for the batter.
I encourage batters to put all of their protective kit on for this drill so they can adjust to the weight and feel of gloves, helmet and bat whilst executing the different batting options.
I have at least two sets of three different coloured balls. These colours will be used in the decision making progressions once a player is comfortable with the drill.
1. Evade or defend every ball
I know that I say “you should have an attacking intent first and then defend” and in most cases this is spot on. However, there are some situations in cricket where evade and defend are more appropriate.
An example came in the recent first Test between England and South Africa. Ben Stokes was batting against a hooking trap set by Rabada. Deep backward square leg, deep fine leg and a square leg in front of square. All catchers were ready and the trap was set. Ben is a really attacking batter, was well set and chose to back himself to clear the ropes. However, an evade or defend mindset may have been a more appropriate option as he and Root were taking the game away from South Africa at this point.
Is it worth practicing the option, the discipline of getting out of the way of a short ball as well as taking it on?
A wise man once said to me that “the most effective batters are those with the largest number of practiced options to each specific delivery”. The wise man was Hampshire CCC and South Africa Legend Barry Richards, and he was brilliant!
2. Take everything on!
In round two, the batter looks to take on every ball. Tammy was so skilful at this and actually played ramp shots, upper cuts over point, hooks and pulls. Her decision making was based on height and line. At this point, we could all see why Tammy is one of the world’s best batters. It was great to watch.
There are more and more situations in Modern day cricket where batters are under pressure to score of each and every ball. The influence of T20 has forced run rates up across all of the formats and now there is no such thing as an impossible run chase. Practicing hitting boundaries off every short ball is a skill that batters need to have in their locker.
This “Taking everything on!” Progression simulates that beautifully.
We used different colours for different options.
Red - Strike
Green - Evade
Yellow - Defend
This bought sharp decision making into the drill.
Tammy was looking forward so that she could pick the ball rebounding back off of the “Wildchild” which was using her “central vision” but she was also using her peripheral vision to get an early read on the colour of the incoming ball as it passes her on the way to the rebound net.
Top level batters use a combination of central and peripheral vision to establish early cues and to identify detail when facing bowlers in matches so this drill is a fantastic one for optimising our visual acuity as well as our ability to make quick decisions.
Great for training shots execution, decision making, reactions and it’s great fun for both coach and player.
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