Breaking it down
It’s easy to forget how many aspects there are to running and calling. It is natural that these will all be condensed into a single session. However, that doesn’t mean you have to focus on EVERY aspect at once.
- Running with the bat (two hands)
- Turning with the bat (down low, one hand, slide in)
- Calling “yes”, “no” or “wait”
- Calling for the second run
- Backing up
- Always watching the ball
I have found that, in practice, it pays to gradually become more demanding over time….sticking to one element at a time. Just like batting and bowling, players need a firm grasp of each stage before moving onwards. This requires clarity of thinking, so they can focus. Lurching from coaching point to coaching point gets you nowhere.
Start off with some simple expectations; for example, insist that every pair of batsmen must call every delivery.
Once you are confident that this is happening, add that the correct person must call – most of the time this means the striker in front of square, or the non-striker behind square.
Again, once this is being performed consistently, take the intensity up again! Here, it would be good to expect each player to run and turn correctly, with the bat in the appropriate hand (meaning they don’t have to turn their back on the ball).
Play a game
Calling and running must be learnt in a match situation, and will be enforced in matches….sometimes the hard way!
The cruel truth is that your players may only realize how important this truly is, when they are sitting in the pavilion.
An effective session may involve you giving each player in the group 2 or 3 opportunities to bat. This affords you the chance to give them out (punishing poor or lazy running and calling), and give them an opportunity to redeem themselves.
Be particularly hard on complacency. After 3 or 4 overs, players overwhelmingly tend to get slack with their calling and running….making assumptions.
I use the phrase, “don’t leave anything to chance”. Under pressure, these assumptions will be their undoing.
A difficult word to add to a young player’s vocabulary is, “wait”.
We are all aware of the importance of this simple word – confusion….in the form of “yes, no” calls or silence/hesitation….leads to run outs more often than anything else.
Saying “wait” buys you crucial time to consider your options. It keeps both batsmen primed for a running opportunity also, as opposed to switching off, and returning to their end (there’s nothing worse than one player running, while the other is parking at their end).
So, a crucial word, but one that takes a while to ingrain. Be sympathetic with young players, regarding this. First they will forget to say “wait”, then they will start saying it but too late. Eventually, it will click.
Here are a couple of methods for introducing the concept of calling “wait”.
“In the next 10 balls, you have to use “wait” at least 3 times” – accept that this will not automatically happen, and give the players time to adapt. Remember, you do want your players to be making a decision too, not just saying wait by default.
“If you say “yes…no”, or “no, yes”, you are out” – this is a habit that has to be removed as quickly as possible.
1st over: there must be a call
2nd over: the right person must call each ball
3rd over: add correct running technique (turning with the bat in the right hand)
4th over: expect perfection (or near perfection)