We stood in silence. Blinking at each other.
I had just called a break in Twenty20 training and brought all the 1st XI boys in to see how they thought they were doing.
"So then, it looks like we're set?" I offered to them, hoping that it would draw a response. Nothing was followed by more nothing. Which was then followed by a long silence.
I tried again, hoping this would be identified as a question, rather than an exclamation that we were perfect and training was cancelled for the next 10 weeks.
Suddenly one of the seamers spoke up, "I'm not ready to hit my yorker in a game, occasionally I slip it towards leg stump and I don’t want to give away an easy 4 if I have fine leg in the ring."
It took a push, but we were getting to the root: Appreciation that there can be a difference between training and a competitive, pressurised match situation.
So if are skills are set in practice, but we're not sure we are ready for a cup final yet, what can we do?
Create a pressurised net situation
Everyone's had a net where the coach has called the last six, "12 to win!" It may get players thinking about the shots they're going to play, but there’s no real realism, pressure, or consequence.
Try this instead:
- 7 over batting. Any batsman facing 40 balls or more in a T20 will be making a significant contribution to the game one way or the other, so lets give them 7 overs bat.
- Increase heart rate. Scientific studies have shown that a batters heart rate will be pounding in a high pressure T20 match. get your batters to sprint a two before every shot they play, while the bowlers have to complete 5 burpees each time they get to the end of their run up before they bowl; bowlers can work in pairs, alternating overs to give themselves some rest time between each set of 6, as well as offering the realism of over by over play.
- Overload brains. It's clarity of thinking - the ability to make the right decision at that crucial moment - that separates those who get close to the line, from those who get over it. So, write down a field. Show it to the bowler for 5 seconds, and then show it to the batsman for 5 seconds immediately after they've completed their sprints and burpees. Then set them off.
Do the same thing every ball working through each over, awarding and noting the amount of runs that are scored each delivery, allowing them to chase or defend an agreed target that you would have set at the start of the session.
We've created physical and mental challenges that mimic a game, but we still need to factor in some form of consequence.
The prize or can be anything you like. Make sure it's something that your players are really going to push for, yet not going to completely ruin their week.
This is where you come in. What are the best consequence’s you can come up for your team?
Let us know your ideas along with your teams, age and ability level. It would be great to hear what puts you or your players under pressure.
Sam Lavery is a PitchVision Academy monthly columnist: A coach with wide experience in the UK, Sam is Academy Director at Portsmouth Grammar School as well as a coach at Hampshire CCC and Burridge CC.