It is no longer unusual for coaches to use load-up and cover drive in the same sentence as upload and hard drive. Like life itself, cricket has had to adapt and adjust to the new normal.
Online cricket coaching drew sneers from the purists until Covid-19 came and bowled a doosra. No surprise then that despite the presence of many online coaching programs over the last decade, none truly captured the imagination of cricketers until recently.
In the post Covid world, it is no longer unusual for coaches to use load-up
and cover drive
in the same sentence as upload
and hard drive
. Like life itself, cricket has had to adapt and adjust to the new normal.
My own DreamCricket Academy had to adjust to this reality as well. With indoor cricket activities coming to a complete halt mid-March in New Jersey, there was a cricketing void that needed to be filled. Kids were looking for an outlet.
After reviewing what our affiliate Willow Cricket Academy was doing in Seattle via Zoom, DreamCricket charted its own course, under the supervision of Coach Earl Daley and Coach Deepali Rokade. The academy delivered its 50th online cricket coaching session for its paid-up members last week, and also launched a series of free sessions by guest speakers. Former Indian cricketer Hemang Badani spoke to the kids this past Sunday. The goal of these free fireside chat style sessions is to keep every cricketer engaged, whether or not they are participating in paid tutorials.
Sushil Nadkarni, former USA Cricket captain as well as India U19 and first class cricketer, was the first guest speaker two weeks ago. Nadkarni touched on the topic of online training during the freewheeling 90-minute long discussion. “While online coaching is not a substitute for on-ground, it has definitely kept kids connected with the game,” Nadkarni noted. “Imagine a world without online [Zoom sessions], if everyone playing cricket went away from cricket for three to four months, it would have been disastrous for the sport.”
Online sessions are effective when working on micro level technical details and also for a variety of drills, including those that help improve hand eye coordination, and effective batting, fielding and bowling techniques, Nadkarni added.
With a captive audience in a Zoom session, it is also easier for coaches to discuss more challenging non-cricket topics like mindfulness and the importance of a healthy diet. At DreamCricket, our coaches have conducted entire sessions on match strategies and mental fitness, drawing on online resources by experts.
Kids seem to love it so far. In April, we disabled the Zoom “waiting room” and allowed kids to join their sessions earlier than the scheduled time. The premise was that some cricketers might want to get in early for set up or to meet their teammates online. Last week, I logged into a Zoom meeting ahead of our scheduled session and was pleasantly surprised to see kids doing their fitness drills without a coach and comparing notes. These Zoom sessions have also pulled together DreamCricket alumni who have moved out of New Jersey. Separated by many time zones, these kids had not been part of our indoor program since their departure. But now only a click away, Dev Chudasama, Aditi Chudasama and Atoshi Banerjee regularly (and eagerly) join our weekday evening sessions, sometimes at the unearthly hour of 3:45am from India.
Of course, Zoom sessions are not always serious or one-dimensional. Cricket has had its share of Zoom bloopers, such as when a parent came in screaming at her son without realizing the camera was turned on, or when a three year old sibling walked in and started undressing in the background, or when a batsman seeking to hit through a gap did that quite literally, finding a gap through the bathroom door.
Overall, these online sessions have saved the day. In fact, there is a chance that they will outlive Covid-19 and will likely supplement on-ground sessions even after the lockdown restrictions ease.
Source: USA Cricket; Picture Credit: Peter Della Penna for DreamCricket (altered to fit the article)