I have been chuffed with the development of one committed player that I coach. This poor fellow couldn't catch a cold three weeks ago. He was getting frustrated and embarrassed in fielding practice and was dreading a high catch being hit his way.
Today, he is transformed.
After a little bit of technical coaching, the use of one simple fielding drill and the player's hard work, I was able to use him as an example for other players to follow.
He is how he did it.
We started off working with hard tennis balls and incrediballs in order to challenge his initial method without the worry of breaking fingers or hideous bruising.
Once we had identified his issue - he needed to get closer to the ball and arch his body to allow his hands to make contact with the ball close to his chest - we were in a position to stress test his method with the following brilliant, yet simplistic drill.
I asked him to stand on different cones (starting stations) and hit the ball into the same area of the ground with my Skyer bat.
Using these stations, the fielder was able to attack the high catch from different angles:
- Over the shoulder
- Running to the fielders left
- Running to the fielders right
- Running towards the striker
The player has to catch 3 balls from each starting station before moving on to the next one.
The benefit of this for a coach who is new to hitting with the Skyer is that he can hit the same type of ball over and over again (building his delivery skill through repetition) and yet recreate all of the high catching angles that a fielder will be exposed to in game play.
This is a great foundation building drill for coach developing his delivery and hitting skills or a player stress testing his technique.
- Place the cones further apart so that the distance to get under the high catch increases. As we all know, the challenge for any fielder is to retain their vision on the ball and calibrate distance and timing when moving across the outfield at speed. This extended drill with test the player hugely.
- Make it competitive. Count the number of attempts that it takes for the fielder to complete 3 successful catches from each starting station.
- Create a league table based on the drill.
- Also make a note of the starting scores for each player and the progression that each individual makes. This way you can create a 'most improved high catcher' based on something measurable rather than a subjective call which may be right or wrong.