On the virtual touchline
Creating a virtual sports programme to replace the daily sports training and weekly matches enjoyed by the boys was a bit of a challenge, I have to admit. It was important to devise ways for all the boys to keep active, to maintain their physical and mental health. Not knowing how much space might be available at home was a consideration, of course, and with several people trying to work from home at the same time, physical activity would need to be carefully programmed.
Using IT support in a way that we have not needed before, we have devised a programme for the boys to participate in cricket and athletics training from home. If your son can get outdoors then great. If you have a bit of space, even better. For the most part, though, the activities can be done in a small space or even on the spot. We have even managed to incorporate throwing events, with some modification.
This period presents us with a golden opportunity to drill down to the technical aspects of our summer sport. Guided by Messrs Whitman, Greenwood, Buck and myself, we will be supported by expert guest speakers and visiting coaches. Why, even Michael Johnson, the American Olympic sprint specialist, dropped into my session via YouTube the other day to talk about the mechanics of sprinting.
As much as we may miss it, without the distraction of competition, either on the cricket pitch or in the athletic arena, the boys have the unique opportunity in the weeks ahead to lay down the foundations of technical development that will serve them greatly in times to come. And it's not just next summer I'm talking about, these are transferable skills for the winter sports, too.
Using Google Classroom, we can revisit aspects of cricket and athletic technique which may have been missed first time around. The technical video, presented by us or drawn from other resources, provides instruction that can be re-watched and re-tried. So, we're asking the boys to do a bit more self-analysis and self-checking, with the resources to guide him. Ideally, he shouldn't work through a task list, finish, and exclaim, “I'm done!'” but he should instead begin to become reflective and analytical about his technique, refining it with repeated movement and deliberate practice, comparing his performance with key coaching points and watching for common faults.
The boys can Zoom or similar as directed by the classroom stream for feedback, and upload their videos to the classrooms for further recommendations from staff.
Whilst we've used some video feedback in recent years, this immersive approach has thrown up some food for thought. It's exciting to think how some of the things that we are developing now, with the help of IT, might be retained and incorporated when we return to normal.
Director of Sport