Why your nets are stopping you improving | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Why your nets are stopping you improving

 When a side are doing badly it’s inevitable that extra nets are put on.

The logic is clear: If you practice you get better. Practice, as they say, makes perfect.

But if you were designing a way to practice to get better based on what we know about skill development, traditional nets are about as useful as bat with a hole in the middle.

Nets don’t work to get you better because they don’t fill the fundamentals of improving.

To get better you need to:
  1. Practice a specific skill
  2. Get feedback on that skill
  3. Go back to 1.
Something like this:
Batting, bowling and throwing are complex skills. They need a combination of movements that need to be timed in the correct order.
Take the on drive as the perfect example.

The shot needs your head and body position to be perfectly aligned so you can swing the bat with the full face through the line of the ball. Nobody can do that first time and every time, even the best players in the world.

To learn it well a player needs to hit the shot over and over again until the feel of the right position and swing is ingrained on the mind. A coaching or batting buddy needs to be on hand to advise where it’s going wrong.

It’s a proven method that works with any sports skill.

Yet we expect player to perfect an on drive in nets where even the best bowlers could never bowl the required leg stump half volleys even if they wanted to.

It’s not going to happen.
Which means you are not going to improve.
So are nets good for nothing at all?
Not quite.

They are handy for recreating pressure situations. They are also useful for batsmen learning how to pick up length early from a bowlers action.

But as a method for improving skill you would be far better with:

  • Throwdowns
  • A bowling machine
  • Tennis ball feeds
  • Bowling at a target, not a batsman

Because each of these methods allows you to practice a specific skill and get instant feedback before practicing it again.

And that’s something nets can never do.

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Spot on. Net practice basically reinforces the skills you already have, it doesn't necessarily develop new ones.

What usually happens at clubs is you get your turn to bat for 10-15 minutes and that's it. Its not enough to improve.

I agree, it's tradition rather than skill development that runs nets. Certainly in my experience.

Absolutely. And this net tradition is in the way of progress. You will find that the old guard at many clubs, including my own, who run the clubs rank very low on new intiatives.

I do agree that unless you already know your strokes and the associated footwork like the back of your hand, they aren't going to help you out a great deal.

Equally, if you aren't also doing your work with throw downs, drops and bobbles etc, don't expect to get the best out of them either