It is difficult to replicate genuine pressure situations in training. However you can add extra layers: decisions to make, instructions to follow….or a few distractions and confusion.
What fielders traditionally lack
- PERIPHERAL VISION – knowing what is going around you. Picking up cues such as the running batters….not an easy task when your priority is to focus on the small moving ball!
When done well, it is almost an instinct. While learning, encourage players to “look up” and evaluate the situation. Decisions need information!!
- COMPOSURE – run out chances are often wasted before they have really begun. Not being ready, and fumbling the ball.
- RESPONSE TO MISTAKES OR CHANGE – the situation is always shifting. The ball can bobble or we can simply slip up! And in these situations, a cool head is needed.
However what our brain wants to do is instantly amend that mistake. We rush, and can make the mistake even worse.
- WHY IS THIS – fielding drills are often formulaic. Take the famous “Triangle Drill” for example. The ball goes round and round in a predictable loop.Sometimes you need some imagination to take a coaching staple, and include the unexpected, or even something a little bit different!
The “Chaos” Fielding Drill: making things deliberately confusing!
This game really isn’t rocket science. But I use a few twists to this simple drill, to keep fielders on their toes.
Priority is speed. Attacking the ball – a) saving time with technique, b) quick release, instead of brute force and overly hard throws – and “recycling” – constantly ready for the next thing, not giving players extra time to recover.
- 2 STUMPS – a keeper’s and bowler’s end
- 3 GROUPS – 1 x fielding, 2 x backing-up
How it works:
- LOW FAST FEEDS – skid the ball into the fielder at pace
- FIELDER ATTACKS BALL – instead of waiting for it to come to them. Emphasis on speed and closing down gap
- THROW TO STUMPS – coach shouts which end
- NEXT BALL HIT STRAIGHT AWAY! – no time for dawdling
What happens next:
- FIELDER RETURNS – to back of queue
- CATCHER RETURNS BALL – puts in pile and returns to their queue
- NON-CATCHER RETURNS TO CONE – runs out for the next ball
- COACH CAN SHOUT “CHANGE STATIONS” – entire group then moves to station to the LEFT.
Making it trickier:
- FIELDER HAS TO FOLLOW BALL – runs to whichever end they threw it. Joins back of queue
- CATCHER RETURNS BALL – to the pile
- CATCHER THEN REPLACES FIELDER – joins the back of the fielding queue
EXTRA COACHING POINTS
- IT IS CONFUSING ON PURPOSE! – the criss-crossing players are deliberate. With this game, I intend to promote each player’s awareness. Instead of fixating, or tunnel-vision, a fielder needs at least half an eye on the bigger picture.
AGAIN, THIS IS VERY DIFFICULT, but it helps your fielding get to the next level
- GET OUT OF THE WAY – know when you need to be involved, and when you need to give your teammates a clear view. This skill is transferable to general positioning, in terms of backing up.
- GET EVERYTHING IN ORDER – for fielders this is: 1. attack the ball, 2. get steady, 3. turn, 4. throw!
For the backing-up fielders it is: 1. get in position, 2. correct body position, 3. catch, 4. tap stumps.
Under pressure, it is easy to try to rush each process….for example, starting the turn and throw before the catch is complete.
With practice, fielders can go through each phase much quicker
- QUICK RELEASE BETTER THAN A HARD THROW – the time saved is usually the same. The extra control is huge
- TURN INSTEAD OF “LUNGE” – a player needs their whole body in line to throw consistently. This means “swiveling” your body is a useful skill. However, sometimes fielders throw their arm or leg towards the target, without balance.