It was a great honour and privilege to spend the day talking about fielding and batting with many of the World Cup winning England Women’s team.
Natalie Sciver, Katherine Brunt and previous World Cup captain, Charlotte Edwards were joined on the ECB Level III coaching course by some excellent Kia Super League coaches as well as Nottinghamshire pairing of Michael Lumb (World T20 Cup winner) and Luke Fletcher.
We had great fun which culminated in three teams competing in the "Authentic Fielding Drill Game".
I first featured this approach a couple of weeks ago on another Level III Course. Each coaching team present their thoughts on their key elements that underpin their fielding coaching and then put together a drill which best represents those philosophies.
Michael Lumb’s group presented brilliantly highlighting the following things as being important within their fielding sessions:
Precision and accuracy
Speed of ball around the drill
Limiting breakdown in the drill: Keep it flowing
I listed the points on a whiteboard and then the cohort watched Lumby’s group go through their paces.
Here is the drill. It has potential!
My marking scheme
In true Strictly Come Dancing style, I critique each groups thoughts before giving a overall score out of 10 for drill authenticity. Drill authenticity is being true to the groups presented thoughts and philosophies on fielding.
The quality of the drill design was fantastic across all three of the groups. In fact, this one I am showing you didn’t win but is certainly worth a look at!
Luke Fletcher (the smiley one) starts the drill off with an underarm feed into an underarm pick up and throw (fielder one).
A colleague (fielder two) backs up the ball picks up the ball and delivers it onto a catching ramp
Fielder 3 catches the ball off of the ramp and aims for the bowlers end stumps, attempting a direct hit.
Fielder 4 backs the ball up and flicks it into fielder 5, who is approaching the bowlers end stumps from a mid on position. Fielder 5 taps the top of the stumps and then pings the ball back to “Big Fletch” with the catching mit and the drill starts all over again.
I then asked a few questions about the statements on the whiteboard. Focussing initially on Precision and accuracy.
Me: “What and how are we measuring accuracy?”
Group: Throw accuracy, we could count the number of hits!
Me: “So how accurate were we?”
Me: “So, you hit the stumps at Big Fletch’s end half the time eh?”
Group: Well... no. We hit it once
Me: “Out of how many attempts?”
Me: “so that's a 20% accuracy score. Now what about hitting the catching board? How many times did we hit that?”
Group: Once? Twice?
Me: “It was twice, so that's 40% in terms of accuracy. What about the bowlers end stumps?”
Me: “Correct. So out of 15 throws we were accurate on 4 occasions. That's less than 30% Accuracy. Could that be improved on?”
Group: Goodness yes!
Me: “OK, so what would we tell a group of players if they performed to an accuracy under 20% of their target?
And the answers about feet alignment, early vision on the intended target and reaching towards the target post throw all came out.
It was a good coach conversation and very similar to those that the coaches have at Millfield all the time.
Of course, the intention of the exercise was to not to improve the fielding of the group of coaches in the room.
One of the intentions was to demonstrate was how having a a set of clear principles and philosophies which underpin your coaching practice allows you to stay on track when designing sessions and gives your players consistent direction as to the things that you want to see from them in both practice and in match play.
The other thing was to show how very basic measurement (I used a flip chart to log throws and hits) could give valid feedback to the group which then initiates coaching conversation and incremental development in performance.
If you have a clear philosophy on how you like to coach and the things that you coach, then challenge it by asking someone else to watch you coach and see if they can challenge the connectivity between your coaching beliefs and your coaching practice.
It's an interesting exercise and often leads to an increase in self-awareness and better coaching practice.
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