One of the leading coaches in the country – in any sport – Peter Moores offers his tips to coaches running their first few sessions of the year.
When people have had a break, your first priority is to make sure nobody gets injured. For example, in your first session back, when you haven’t done any playing for a while, you wouldn’t ask players to do 100 per cent fielding practice and throw in full blast because the chances of throwing your shoulder out are too high.
FOCUS THE MINDS
The first thing I would do with a group is remind them that they’re practising with a purpose: to try and get better in a game. Sometimes players forget what they practise for and it’s important to focus people’s minds on why they’ve come to training in the first place! So I’d want to get them excited about how they could win a trophy next year, get them excited about playing, and then later you can start to look at improving specific skills.
SET INDIVIDUAL GOALS
Before you actually start, I think it’s really nice to ask every player what they’re expecting to get out of the sessions you’re about to do. So if I ask them and they say, ‘Well, last season I got out driving a lot and one of my main goals is to get better at that’, then you know that the practice is tailored towards something the player really feels is important.
If you can get them to look back at what’s happened to them in the past, that’s a great source of information, too. Let’s say I’m a league bowler, I’d be able to find out, if I looked, what I went for an over last season. If they go at five an over and think they could be doing better, this might be telling them to be more consistent. So then you can get to work straight away on what line and length they want to bowl.
ONLY JUDGE THEM ONCE THEY’VE GOT GOING
I think the only time you can really judge a player and know how good they are is to look at them when they’re in a state of flow, when they’re relaxed, in rhythm and playing. Then you can judge if there’s technically something wrong. If you judge them when they’re nervous or haven’t batted for a while etc. then you might actually see technical faults that would go away when they get back into rhythm because it all starts to join up and flow together.
MAKE USE OF YOUR SPACE
When you’re training indoors and you’ve got a group of people working together you need to try to maximise the space. Tennis balls are always good to use so you can get a bit more action going on outside of the pairs in the nets. Things where you can get small drill work going outside of the main net are good because everybody gets involved and gets more out of the practice.