Cricket coach and PitchVision columnist Sam Lavery tackles how to integrate running into net sessions.
Runs are the currency we value the most. So how do we go about improving how many runs we can score?
There are two simple ways:
Either improve our ability to hit the ball with a range of shots, improve our ability to run, or both.
While the ratio and the necessity for developing batting skills to developing running fitness isn't 1:1, both deserve their own focus in training sessions.
The ability to run faster, turn faster, and run for longer, is something that gets included in many a junior session, but very rarely do you see this discipline make the transition into senior cricket. It's understandable: running shuttles is boring and a whole lot of hard work.
So let's look at the options of how we can make running fun again.
First of all I think it's key that your players understand the relationship between running and runs.
It seems obvious, but not it's obvious enough to get most people involving it in their routine! So, reinforcing the notion that the there are two elements to scoring; hitting the ball, and galloping between the wickets, reminds a few of a basic principle.
Once you have players bought into the idea, integrate a relevant running element into training that is enjoyable, and fits within the time frame.
Here are a couple of suggestions:
Set up a net scenario with a separate wicket nearby in a safe position away from the firing line (2 cones 20 yards apart will do). Have batsmen in pairs with one batting while the other is away from the net in the made up separate wicket.
While his partner has a hit, set up a running schedule for the non facing batsman to complete
- Easy: sprint 1, walk 1, sprint 2, walk 1, sprint 1
- Intermediate: sprint 1, walk 1, sprint 2, walk 1, sprint 2, walk 1, sprint 1
- Advanced: sprint 1, walk 1, sprint 2, walk 1, sprint 3, walk 1, sprint 2, walk 1, sprint 1
On completion of the running schedule the player gets his bat, swapping with the batsman who have been in the live net.
This can be repeated as many times as is realistic for duration of the session and the fitness level of the batsmen involved. You can make it competitive by timing the two players, with the winning earning and extra batting slot, while the loser has to repeat an extra course of running.
Results based running
Set up a net scenario with 2 batsmen. This time, rather than having a preset running schedule, the running done is based on the shots played. Shots are graded into different levels of execution:
- good contact, or a well judged leave allows the striking batsman to stay on strike
- poor contact results in a single being sprinted
- a play and miss, or half chance, results in a three being sprinted
- a wicket results in a 5 being ran
After each shot the coach can call the runs.
The benefit of runs being based on quality of contact - as opposed to projected runs scored - is that as time passes, players will realise that maintaining focus and playing match realistic shots is the priority rather than whacking the ball out of the park.
You can accompany the process with a run chase, ensuring that players still remain positive throughout, rather than going into their shell and playing negatively.
At the later stages of the season, nets are becoming a little stale for some, so take your team back to basics, think about what scoring runs means, and how they're gained, and look at employing a running plan into you nets.
image credit: philipstorry