Use Nets to Better Grow Your Mental Toughness for Cricket | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Use Nets to Better Grow Your Mental Toughness for Cricket


That's the difference between a net session and a game.

In nets you can roll your arm over, or knock the ball about for 10 minutes and have some fun. Even the best managed nets lack the context of a real game. That means there is no chance for you to develop your mental toughness skills.

Which is kinda a problem. You have to teach yourself how to deal with pressure when you are under pressure.

You end up thinking you are not mentally tough enough because you are afraid of a bouncer.

Or that you can't hit your yorker at the death because you are a natural choker.

In fact, you are not mentally weak, or a choker at all. It's true that some people are naturals in a high-stress game, but if you are not that lucky you can still mental toughness skills.

It's just a matter of adapting your training and reviewing how you react. Deliberate practice for the mind, you might say.

Increase thinking time

Nets are typified by the quickfire nature of balls bowled. With 4 or more bowlers in a net, batters have a few seconds between balls rather than a minute or more. Bowlers don't bother with overs, just rotating round as long as the net continues.

But the time between balls and overs is crucial.It's here that is fraught with danger.

The batsman starts thinking about his technique as the bowler trudges back. The bowler stews at fine leg after bowling a long hop on the last ball of the over. Your reaction to moments like this can make or break your ability to stay in the moment.

So, if you feel this area is causing you problems and you are creating negative self-talk during dead times, then work on some changes to your thinking in nets by adding in those gaps.

  • If you are a batsman, use BATEX or middle practice to increase the down time between balls.
  • If you are a bowler, bowl in overs then take a rest from the net to review the last 6 balls, and your reaction.

Increase difficulty

Have you ever passed up a net because the pitch was poor?

Have you ever passed on bowling when the slogger has his go on a flat one in training?

If you have you are missing a golden chance: Playing in adverse conditions teaches you that cricket is not all sunshine and roses. Digging in, playing ugly and getting the job done is what you need to do.

No matter how well you play, if the odds are against you, you will fail. You get out more. You get hit more. You make more mistakes.

And you realise that the best players ride the luck they get, put failure behind them and get ready for the next ball, not the last one.

So, take every chance to play in conditions that are imperfect and treat those sessions as mental toughness training.

(A sidebar to this is playing the short ball, which is always challenging but is a great way to learn how you react under pressure. Do some training even if you don't face it much.)

Put something on it

Even in nets, you can add pressure by putting something more on the results.

It will never quite be the same, but it will give you a taste of what happens in games, so from there you can learn how you react and develop a method for dealing with anger, frustration and loss of focus.

This can be as simple as saying to the batsman "if I get you out, you owe me a drink". or saying to the bowlers, "whoever hits the target first gets a prize".

Or, you can build things into training:

Here are some more ideas too.

Review every session

So far, all these tricks put you in situations that add pressure to training.

But that is nothing unless you review your reaction after every session.

Ask yourself:

Use your individual answers to plan how you are going to deal with it next time.

When you find your method you will see your confidence soar and your ability under pressure because the same as your skills when everything is going your way.

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