photo credit: burge5000
Anyone can learn the basics of close catching quickly. It's one of the first skills kids learn in group coaching. What we really want to know is how to catch well every time a chance comes our way. Great catchers make the skill look easy and comfortable, even at high speed. What factors go into this?
- Technique. You probably already know the basics but it's worth revisiting them here. How many players in close get caught on their heels every season?
- Reactions. Good fielders see the ball coming to them early and are in position more quickly.
- Experience. The better catchers can anticipate the ball coming better than most
- Relaxation. If you are confident in your ability you are less tense and more able to catch with soft hands and a stable body position.
The combination of these skills will make sure you catch more than you drop on a regular basis. How do you develop this? I would recommend the following:
- Have specialists. Club teams need specialist close catchers too. If you have the influence, identify 2 or 3 players to work hard on their close catching skills.
- Practice. The key to practicing close catching is to do it as much as possible in as many different environments as you can. Practice under pressure, use a coach to get your technique dead on, practice when you are tired as well as when you are fresh, practice with tools like a cradle or with a coach deflecting the ball. The more you catch in practice the more you catch in a game.
- Get fit. The more work capacity you have the better your concentration and the less likely your technique is to let you down.
- Learn how to switch off. Concentration is a finite thing so learn how to relax between balls and get a trigger
Finally, don't fall into the common trap of club cricket: Try to hide your slowest and/or oldest player in the slips. Good close catching can make the difference between winning and losing. How are you going to improve your close catching this season? Leave a comment.
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