Train or Play: The Club Cricketer's Good Choice to Have | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Train or Play: The Club Cricketer's Good Choice to Have

"Do you want a game on Wednesday?" The midweek Twenty20 captain asks you after your Saturday match.

You can play, but it's a busy week and Wednesday is your only free time for training too. So you have a choice.

What do you do?


Play by default?

In my experience - as a coach and captain at club level for many years - most people default to playing.

The season is short, games can be called off. Take every chance you can to play actual cricket. You could "play yourself into form" if you do things right.

Besides, no training session - no matter how well run - can reflect the pressure and fitness demands of a game of cricket. So, enjoy yourself with some T20 and feel more ready for the big weekend games.

Is is default thinking correct?

The down side of playing

It often is, but there are pitfalls.

In a game you have to do what is required. You can't easily manufacture a specific part of your game to work on (like you can in training). This is fine if you get to do something that will help you, but you can't be sure you will.

Plus, you only get one chance when you play. This might be handy for learning how you respond to pressure, but it's not good for experimenting with new methods or honing existing ones.

You might walk away from a game having not batted or bowled and barley touching the ball in the field. It's hard to learn and grow from that position!

The benefits of cricket training

The other option is to go to training and work on something specific. You can be more systematic here and more in control of what skills you are developing.

You can use video to record your play, tie it in to PitchVision's pitch maps and pace readings to work out what you do when you do things well.

You can create a feedback loop where you play, test, adjust and retest. This is the fastest way to learn any cricket skill. It's impossible to do in any single match.

So, if you want to develop your cricket, take a moment longer to consider training instead. It might be better for you, depending on your goals.

Reflect (with either option)

Whatever way you go, make sure you take time to properly reflect on the game or session.

I cannot stress how crucial reflection time is if you want to get better at playing cricket.

Most players finish the match, go home and only think about it if they have done well or poorly to wallow in pride or pity. Don't be that person. Take five minutes and reflect on what happened without the emotional highs or lows.

With video, coach or peer comments, and even honest memory there is plenty of data to use in your quest to improve your skills, form, mental strength and fitness.

You just need to take the time to analyse it. It doesn't take long so don't skip it (even when you lost because of a mistake you made, feel the pain and reflect on everything, not just the error).

What are your experiences of choosing playing over training or vice-versa?

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