You can never become too good at catching, right? So this has been a major emphasis as we embark on a new season.
The Millfield School teams may not always be the best XIs in the country but they are full of players who love to catch and players who know that catching is one of the key strands in the DNA of a Meyers XI (our most senior XI) cricketer.
It has been fantastic to watch the players collecting katchet ramps, Crazy Catches, hitting bats and lots of balls to practice their catching skills and make their hands sufficiently robust for the rigours of early season fielding (in the cold)!
One of our U15s is lad who will end up being a very good fielder. He has the most important ingredient that any fielder could possess: Passion for fielding!
I have yet to work with or meet a world class fielder who doesn’t like fielding. Fielding is a mindset first; and then a physical activity. If you don’t love it then you are unlikely to become a world class fielder.
The challenge that this young cricketer has is that he is very small in stature. His body gets into relatively good positions yet the ball regularly breaks through his hands and he drops too many catches. In order to help him develop and to give him a confidence boost I increased the challenge of a recent catching practice.
The weight of the ball that he was catching by nearly 6 times heavier than a normal cricket ball. It was a 32oz (907g) ball!
Initially, the fielder did not receive any technical information at all. He was simply asked to catch the ball either with 2 hands or 1 hand.
I was interested to see if the increased load had any impact on his technique, his movement and his catching shape; the shape of the arm. If we can retain a 90 degree angle at the elbow then it means that our head is close to our hands which helps control and precision. The catching shape also helps us to absorb the force of the ball.
The fielder in the video automatically creates as near perfect catching shape on all the balls thrown with the 32oz ball in the 1st round. He moves well to balls thrown into his right and takes the ball cleanly and consistently. A massive technical improvement.
The other thing that I noted whilst working through the round was that every time the ball went low, the fielder would catch the ball but pull his head slightly to his right which broke his head/hand alignment. Whilst he didn’t drop the ball in this exercise, it did take my mind back to some dropped practice catches by the same fielder during last summer.
This was my only coaching intervention in the session and he started to correct his alignment in the second round of catches when the ball went low which was good to see.
By increasing the stimulus (Weight of the ball) the fielder organised his body to withstand the increased weight. His catch became stronger and in review he recognised that this needed to be transferred into 156g cricket ball catching also.
He has been out every day this week doing exactly that with his best mate. Awesome stuff!
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