Today I am going to put my money where my mouth is. But I need your help too. This is a cricket skills case study about me: I'm going to report back to you on a goal so you can see how these methods work and take the ideas into your game. I'd love you to come along for the journey too.
Read on to join in.
You see, unlike previous years - where I played as much as I coached - in the last 12 months I have backed away from playing and focused mainly on coaching. This has highlighted some areas where I need to improve; nicking practice and throwing with the Sidearm cricket ball thrower.
I'm aiming to improve my Sidearm skills significantly in the next six months.
You can choose the skill you are aiming to improve too and come with me.
It might be a coaching skill, or it may be a playing skill, but by following along we can improve together.
Here's the plan.
Improve accuracy with a Sidearm
The first step in any aim is to have a target that is specific and measurable.
So, my aim is to be accurate enough with a sidearm cricket ball thrower to be able to hit the area I want most of the time. I also want to reduce "wasteful" balls, for example when trying to throw straight half volley length I send down a short ball down the leg side.
I won't focus on it, but I would also be happy to improve my pace when "bowling seam" and my turn when "bowling spin".
To monitor this, I'll use PitchVision to track my throwing accuracy, pace and deviation. I can then throw balls and track my accuracy over the next six months and beyond.
To give you some background, here are my recent PitchVision stats:
- Sessions: 12
- Balls delivered: 388
- Targets hit: 35%
- Wasteful balls: 34%
The other balls are all playable by a batsman, but also not the right line or length.
Average seam pace is 54mph (87 kph), topping out at 61 when coming off a run up. Average turn when bowling spin is 1.9° (anything between 2-4° is good for club level spin).
As you can see, there is work to do.
But this is a starting line. I can use these numbers to see how I improve over time.
I encourage you to set your own benchmarks before embarking on a challenge like this too. You have to know where you are before you begin so you can see if you plan is working or not.
Carving time, setting the right goal
The next step in the plan is working out what you are going to do to make a change.
For players, this is easy. You go to practice and you bowl and bat while tracking results. For a coaching based skill, you need to practice away from practice. No batsman likes to face a coach who only gives them one good ball in three. I owe it to my players to carve out practice time.
So, for the next few weeks I'm arriving early at nets with half an hour to just throw balls on PitchVision.
I have set a target of throwing 500 more balls.
I am using a target I can achieve with the time available, but you will note I have not set any target on accuracy, pace or deviation. That's because I figure that throwing balls and getting instant feedback will be enough for me to get better. In short, if I look after the volume, the accuracy looks after itself.
I'll keep you up to date as I go, but the take away for any player or coach wanting to improve is,
- Identify a specific area to improve
- Define how you will measure it
- Set a realistic target based on elements within your control.
- Do the work!
What's your goal?
I know that the run up to the end of the year is often a super quiet time for cricket. But if you can find time, what are you going to work on to start next year in a better position?
Leave a comment and let's work together to make things happen now, and into the future.