27 Preseason Hacks: A Cheat Sheet for Nets That Actually Improve your Cricket | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

27 Preseason Hacks: A Cheat Sheet for Nets That Actually Improve your Cricket

Preseason nets are looming and this year you are determined not to waste them. You want to take every last drop of improvement in time for that first game in the spring.

That means this year talking to the coach or captain and getting him to copy some of the practices of successful club, academy and school sides. As you already know, being an amateur player is no longer an excuse for amateur practice.

So let’s use some of that determination with these changes to nets:

  1. Get the right atmosphere. Senior players, coach and captain need to buy in to using practice as a time to practice at game intensity. Socialise afterwards.
  2. Treat every practice like a game. How seriously do you take games? However serious that is, match it in practice. If you never want to drop a catch in a game it’s simple, never drop one in practice and treat it like you dropped the superstar opponent in a crunch fixture.
  3. Use what you have. You might not have perfect facilities and training aids. Just use what you can. Fielding practice only needs one ball.
  4. Break the preseason into periods. Focus on skill, a fitness base and technique in the early pre-season and game-plans as the spring approaches.
  5. Give throwdowns. All batsmen should “warm up” with a few minutes of technical work from gentle throwdowns getting progressively harder. This grooves technique before entering the net.
  6. Bowl without batsmen. While that batters bat, the bowlers bowl in an empty net, trying to hit their target line, length and pace/deviation.
  7. Divide the nets up. Have a pace net and a spin net. Ideally bowlers bowl in pairs, 6 balls at a time. This keeps balls coming at the batsmen but allows bowlers to work as a pair and get the feel for bowling in overs.
  8. Divide the nets up (part 2). As the season approaches, split the nets into different scenarios, such as batting a long innings or hitting out at the death.
  9. Bring in the fitness. You can easily incorporate sprints, agility, core work, mobility and basic strength training into nets. Do that thing.
  10. Start with fielding. Fielding is the first thing to get dropped, so do it first as a warm up with game intensity and stop dropping catches.
  11. Use video. Every net session has a camera now because they are standard on mobile phones. Use it to analyse your technique.
  12. Set goals for each session. Theme your sessions around something that gets people thinking rather than going through the motions.
  13. Set goals for the preseason. Have an ultimate aim for where you want to be at the end of preseason and work backwards to where you are now. You can do this at team and individual level. It gives you a roadmap.
  14. Work on a variation. Every bowler should have at least one variation they can bowl at will. It doesn’t have to be flash. A good yorker is ideal.
  15. Stop the wicketkeeper bowling. Even if the ‘keeper is a really good bowler, he should really be working on his wicketkeeping.
  16. Stretch. Your warm up has no excuse not to work on the mobility of everyone’s hips, t-spine and ankles. Foam rollers are next on the list.
  17. Track your changes. Keep a record of what you have done and how you did it. Track what works and change what doesn’t.
  18. Have an extra session. You can always have an extra session. Get together with some cricket tragic mates and keep your game-heads on.
  19. Use deliberate practice. It was the buzz word of last year for me. It’s going to be even more important the more we learn about developing skill. Get started using deliberate practice.
  20. Get outside as soon as you can (even when it’s cold). Cricket is played outside. As soon as you can bear it go outside and don’t go back in.
  21. Learn a new shot. My guess is you need to work on your on-drive.
  22. Bring in the kids. Toughen up the next generation by bringing them in to senior practice so they can learn how to play hard, even in practice (but make sure they are safe of course).
  23. Play games. Don’t be afraid to ignore the nest altogether and play games. Indoor cricket teaches you a lot if you set it up right. Plus it’s great fun.
  24. Work on building trust. Trust is vital to a successful team, and it’s about much more than bonding over a pint. Use nets to build a culture of shared intensity and responsibility. If you are influential (coach, captain, senior player) be fast to reward success as a team.
  25. Learn how to run. Sprinting is as technical as a cover drive. While you are not a 100m Olympic contender, you can spend time working on learning how to run faster and get a pay off with less run-outs. Wear pads, it makes a difference.
  26. Pile on the pressure. Pressure changes everything, so add some to nets in the latter stages of preseason by setting targets, sledging, and middle practice in good weather. Learn to get out of your own head.
  27. Deal with the difficult ones. Not everyone will buy in to a serious training culture. Learn how to deal with resistance in a friendly way. 

What changes will you be making this preseason to have a better summer?

Leave a comment and let us know.

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