I’m a huge fan of rebound nets for self reliant individual or paired practice when working with keepers and fielders. The Crazy Catch helps sharpen reactions, builds technique and can be used to unlock movement patterns.
The “sane” side of the net is a basic rebounder. The ball comes back in a consistent fashion to the participant. The “insane” side is a double strung rebound net that delivers the ball back randomly. It’s fantastic for testing even the best catchers in the world.
We have “Keepers Club” at Millfield every Tuesday morning before school day begins. It’s a great time for me selfishly as I’m surrounded by pupils who want to sharpen their keeping skills.
This morning we were joined by Ellie, it was her first time at Keepers Club. Ellie is part of our Girls touring squad heading to Mumbai in a few weeks time. Ellie has seen that there is an opportunity for her to keep wicket on the tour and wants to learn some basic skills before getting on the plane in December.
I spent 10 minutes teaching Ellie about the posture which we use as a starting point for Keepers, namely the “Z” position. Ellie is also a gymnast, has a good level of physical competency and found it relatively easy to connect with Keeping specific postures.
I set her up to work out of the “Z” position into a catching position using a Crazy Catch. She worked independently for 10 minutes and must have taken over 100 catches in that time.
I then asked Jamie to come over and show Ellie some of the rebound net drills he uses to simulate standing up to the stumps. Jamie is a County age group keeper-batter. He has been keeping wicket for just over four years.
Ellie stood to the side of Jamie and threw into the “sane” side of the Crazy Catch rebound net. The great thing about the “sane” side of the rebound net is that it gives a consistent reaction meaning you can groove a movement or Catch type and build up significant repetition numbers. This was perfect for a keeper such as Ellie who is starting out on her journey as a keeper.
The ball springs back off of the net and either misses leg stump or clips the stumps, simulating an edge or deflection off of a thigh pad. It’s great practice.
If the ball misses the leg stump then the keeper needs to find a way of moving that allows them to take the ball comfortably and then return the ball to the stumps for a potential stumping.
Notice how Jamie returns the ball in a rhythmic fashion back to the stumps. His body is relaxed as he takes the ball.
It was a great bit of role modelling that an inexperienced keeper could learn from. Ellie learn more from watching Jamie do this drill than I could teach her in 1000 words. That’s the beauty of role modelling and pair-based work.
Ellie then did the same drill with Jamie throwing into the rebound net. The only change I make was to turn the stumps round slightly to reduce the number of deflections and to give her the sense of moving to take a leg side ball. This is a movement pattern that Ellie wouldn’t have done before given that this was her first ever Keeping session.
So whilst her movement pattern is slightly different to Jamie’s (a longer single stride instead of a double movement), it was brilliant to see how quickly Ellie learnt and adapted to the drill.
What a great start for Ellie’s keeping career!
So how can we adapt and scale this drill to open it up to keepers of any experience level or ability?:
Move the Crazy Catch closer or further away dependent on the ability or experience of the keeper. The closer the Crazy Catch the quicker your reactions need to be to move and then catch the incoming ball.
Adjust the speed of the throw.
Shift the vertical angle of the Crazy Catch, this changes the way the ball reacts off of the net.
Experiment with slight turns in angle of the Crazy Catch in relation to the thrower. Notice that we had a couple of different angles during Jamie’s montage which meant that the ball ended up either in line with the stumps or missing leg stump.
Change the type of ball. We used a 4oz bowling machine ball today but we can use tennis balls, Incrediballs or normal cricket balls.
Turn the Crazy Catch around and have a go on the more random “insane” side. Nothing is normal here, the ball could deflect up/down/left or right. Once you feel comfortable with the “sane” rebounds then it’s time to go “insane!”
Rebound Nets are brilliant for so many catching and keeping drills. Use these different scaling options to sharpen kickstart your keeping career. Just like Ellie.
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