I don’t think that enough young players practise their fielding skills and, because it’s a crucial part of the game, I’m going to list some fielding drills that can make things fun.
How to Practise Fielding at Home
You don’t need a big garden to practise your fielding skills at home but you will need an outside area. No-one wants to damage anything inside the house. Basic drills can be done with one or two friends and I’ve found that many of these techniques can work in a small group.
For some of these drills, you may also need extra equipment such as a catching aid, cones or a crash mat.
Ground Fielding Drills: How to Stop the Ball
1. Stopper in the Middle
This exercise can easily be carried out in a small outdoor space with two friends or teammates. Player two is in the middle while players one and three try to roll the ball to each other.
Player two must look to intercept the ball and field it cleanly. When they do, players can switch places or you can devise a points system to determine a winner.
The same three players can carry out this drill and it will help if you have a cone to use. Player one rolls the ball towards the cone while player two runs from a distance. This time, they will need to dive to field it.
A crash mat could be useful here for more spectacular dives.
3. Reflex Catches
Slip catching is the hardest to master as the ball is travelling so fast and you’ll really need to test your reflexes. You will need an extra piece of equipment for this – various brands on the market are known as Crazy Catch or Nicker Boards.
Get a friend to throw the ball at these pieces of equipment which will send the ball to the fielder at all sorts of different angles.
4. Reaction Turn
A fast first movement can give you the edge in the field and may even turn an easy single into a run out. This drill can be carried out using two players and a ball – a training ball or tennis ball – balancing on a small cone.
Place the ball in the centre of two players who have their back turned away from the cone. They should be crouching as if they were in the slips. Shout ‘go’ and they turn to grab the ball with the fastest to collect it cleanly winning that round.
5. Fast Feet Fielding
You can save time, and runs, by reacting quickly in a number of different areas. Quick thinking and fast hands are important but you should also have fast feet.
Set out four cones in a square and find a coach or teammate to help. Run around the square, touching each of the cones in turn while getting the coach to roll balls to you as you move. When the ball is in reach, field it and return it.
High Catching Fielding Drills
1. High Catching
For this drill, you need two cones and a colleague to hit the ball towards you. The fielder stands between the cones and they are effectively forming a goal.
The second player has a bat and hits the ball, at shoulder height or above, between those two cones. The objective is to ‘score a goal’ while the fielder has to catch the ball and stop their colleague from scoring.
2. Square Reflex Catching
This is another easy drill that just requires three players and some balls. One fielder stands in the middle while their colleagues are either side in a straight line.
The player in the middle faces one teammate who throws them a catch. Instantly, the catcher tosses the ball back before turning 180 degrees to collect a catch that the third player has thrown. Keep the process going and rotate the positions.
Underarm Throw Drills: How to Hit the Stump
1. Pick Up and Release
A quick pick up and release will cut down the opposition’s runs and it’s easy and fun to practise this drill. This is quite easy to practise and you just need a ball and some stumps.
Place the ball on the ground, or on top of a small cone, run and collect it before throwing at the stumps. It’s a simple exercise but one that can significantly improve your speed of release.
2. Underarm Race
This drill is designed to improve the speed of the underarm pick up and throw and it is carried out by three people. To begin with, fielders two and three will stand one behind the other, facing fielder one.
Fielder one will then run to field a ball which has been rolled by fielder two. Fielder one will then roll that ball to fielder three. The players will continue to alternate and this is a fast and fun exercise which can quickly improve those overarm skills.
Overarm Throw Drills
1. Target Throwing
This is another simple drill that just requires two players, a ball and a single cone. Facing each other, the players take it in turns to send down overarm throws at the cone which is placed in the middle of the marked out area.
The aim is simply to hit the cone with that throw. This can improve throwing skills over time and it’s quite easy to turn this into a fun game. Simply allocate one point for each time the cone is hit and decide how many points are needed to win the game.
Focus and Accuracy Drills
There are two main drills here: The first can be quite complicated and, ideally, we need different coloured balls and different coloured stumps. The three corresponding colours should match so, for example, we should have a red, yellow and blue ball plus a red, yellow and blue stump.
The balls can be laid out in a line or a teammate can roll them to a fielder. The task is then to field the ball and throw it at the stump which carries the same colour. This is a complex exercise and one that can improve focus.
For the second drill, we just need one stump and a set of balls marked out in a line. The fielder will run in, picking up each ball in turn and throwing it at the stump. Often, in a match situation, fielders will only have one stump to aim at and this exercise is intended to improve on the accuracy element.
How to Catch the Cricket Ball
I’ve compiled another guide which specifically focuses on catching. The orthodox cup and reverse cup are covered here in greater detail so do check it out.
Remember too that catches are such an important part of the game and these can also be practised extensively in a small outdoor area.