The boy was about 17 years old. He loved playing cricket but knew he wasn't a natural with the bat.
But he had some grit. He wanted to improve.
Even better, there were plenty of people around willing to help with technical advice. So he walked down the net declaring,
"If you see me do anything wrong, let me know."
He did a lot wrong.
Like I said, he was keener than he was a natural ball striker. As instructed, the bowlers all gave their advice to him.
Pick up the bat straighter, Don't back away, use your top hand to control the shot, watch the ball.
On and on it went.
I could see him getting more and more frustrated as he tried and failed with each piece of advice. At one point he was bowled by the same bowler 4 times in 5 balls and each time the bowler helpfully pointed out his technical error.
And each time his jaw tightened in tension and the grip on the bat become more white knuckled. When his net session finished he tore off his helmet and I could see the pain of frustration behind his eyes.
Up until that point I hadn't uttered a word.
I could see he needed something but he has had plenty of technical tips, his head was already spinning.
So I told him about the OAT method.
One Awesome Thing
OAT stands for One Awesome Thing. I made up the name but I certainly didn't make up the method.
Simply, you pick one thing to work on for your net session. Then you concentrate on being awesome at that one thing. It becomes your sole focus.
It works because it unclutters your mind.
In a net session with live a bowlers there is a lot going on; different types of bowling at a rapid pace at all kinds of lines and lengths. It's easy to pick out a large handful of technical errors in a batsman because of all the different situations.
If you try and work on every one, like our hero did earlier, you end up working on none of them.
Instead, pick something and work on it.
Lets say for our guy it was the fact he moved his back foot away to the leg side: Classic "backing away". If the ball was outside off stump he has a fair chance of smashing it through the covers. If it was straight he had a fair chance of getting bowled.
At practice, that is the only thing he thinks about.
So before his net maybe he gets a batting buddy to do a simple footwork drill like this one.
When he walks into the net he checks his feet after every ball and keeps a quiet count of the times he keeps his back foot in the right place.
Perhaps the first session he find he does it 25% of the time. Over time he increases that slowly up to 100%.
Maybe that process takes a week, maybe it takes three months, but by using the OAT method you make clear technical improvements on your own, and that's a crucial aspect for most young players.