Coach Darren Talbot laments a wasted chance in this article. To find out more about Darren Talbot Cricket Coaching click here.
Around preseaon clubs plan their senior and junior winter net training sessions.
Maybe you are doing it now.
One of the biggest issues is finding a venue as there are still nowhere enough indoor net facilities to cope with the demand from clubs, schools and individuals.
But why do we do nets?
What are the real benefits, especially in the winter?
How much “netting” do the pros do in the winter and early spring? The answer is not much, if any. So if it’s not appropriate for them, why are we putting ourselves and our junior sections through net sessions?
It makes no sense at all.
The answer is because that’s the way it’s always been done. But that doesn’t make it right.
Leaving the seniors aside for one minute, if you are a coach of a junior squad, ask yourself these questions:
- How many of my squad can ball every ball consistently in the right channel at a decent pace for a batsman to play a normal cricket shot? If you’ve answered 8 or more, you’ve either got a really good (or older) squad or you are kidding yourself. Any less than that and anyone who can’t bowl straight enough or well enough is ruining that net session.
- How much actual cricket are my players getting in a net situation? How many balls will little Johnny bowl in 10 minutes; the answer is 2 if he’s lucky! How many hittable balls will little Harry get in his 7 minute net session; the answer is maybe 5 to 10. Is this really worth it?
- What were the major problems my squad faced during the season with their performances and is a net session the right place to work on those shortcomings? If you’re honest with yourself and you can look upon it dispassionately I suspect the answer you will come to is “no”.
- Am I doing nets because it’s easier for me as a coach/organiser? Only you can answer this truly but let’s be honest, net coaching is the easiest type of coaching to do. Lazy coaches do a lot of nets!
So what should you be working on?
For me the answer lies in indoor cricket matches and skills coaching leading up to that. Indoor cricket improves:-
- Running between the wickets
- Backing up
- Judging a run
- Manipulating the ball into gaps
- Bowling accuracy
- Bowling to a plan
- Chasing a target
- Setting a target
- Fielder reactions
- Fielder decision making
- Fielders backing up
So why do nets over indoor hall coaching? Especially when you have the opportunity to choose almost any venue that has a hall big enough.
You don’t need the nets!
Even for seniors. I guarantee your players will start the season sharper for playing indoor cricket ahead of net sessions. There’s a stronger argument at adult level for maybe 5-6 weeks of focussed nets but only with and/or after 5-6 weeks of indoor cricket sessions.
And what about hardball practice?
Yes I accept that it is useful to feel ball on bat and bowling with a hardball again. If your group is good enough (and I take you back to that key question of bowling accuracy earlier) then I would consider doing maybe 3 weeks of nets at the end of the indoor training but only after a minimum of 5 or 6 indoor cricket type nets.
The pros don’t tend to do that much hardball batting until about 6 weeks before the season starts so as amateurs and coaches we shouldn’t either.
So don’t bow down to peer pressure, parental pressure or just plain “that’s what we’ve always done”, think wiser and think better.