Is there anything quite as satisfying on the cricket pitch as running out a well set batsmen just as you had given up hope in getting him out?
Mainly this satisfaction if from the rarity of such an event. Ask yourself how many run outs your team had last season. Ask yourself how many run out chances were wasted thanks to a poor throw or a misfield. I know my own team have had at least 3 open goals missed in the last 2 weeks.
It's not about technique. None of the failed run outs I have seen have been down to a players inability to get the ball in over the stumps. I find that there is one main reason run out attempt fail: Pressure.
Put a normally sane club fielder under any pressure and more often than not they go to pieces. Pick ups are fumbled and throws suddenly go wild. Such is the mental side of this game.
So to improve your run out percentage you need your fielders to be calmer under pressure.
How do you do this?
Make sure that part of your practice and warm up sessions include an added element of pressure. Start with normal ground fielding drills then add in something that puts the player under game levels of stress. For example, try making the first person to fumble a pickup have to put out the boundary markers.
You can also have an open net or practice game with 2 batsmen who are working on quick singles.
Also, ensure players are working on their running speed, agility and throwing power as part of their fitness training. Players who have the confidence of being fast and throwing well are less likely to snap under a moment of tension.
Finally, make sure the players know how to stay calm under pressure. This is a skill that can be learned just as well as a cover drive or sliding stop. Get experienced players to talk about how they deal with it and focus on being in the moment: Alert but relaxed.
On the Pitch
During the game, players need to have the confidence in themselves and their team mates to attempt a run out at the slightest sniff of a chance. If you have practised well then you are mostly there anyway but make sure there is a culture of looking for run outs first.
This means all players ready to back up the stumps all the time. The captain will let the team risk overthrows if the fielder thinks he has a chance of running a player out. The team has to back the captain by being able to judge when to throw and always alert for someone else to be throwing.
It's also an idea for players to return the ball quickly to the wicketkeeper even when there is no run out chance. This makes the batsman think twice about quick singles and it also helps players find their range for quick throws when a chance comes.
It's easy to go over the top with this as some International teams often do this with every ball. A few â€˜warm up' throws to the keeper seem to me to be a sensible idea for all fielders though.© Copyright miSport Holdings Ltd 2008