If you’re going to play cricket for a club, then you’re going to need to know how to catch! Sadly, a lot of cricketers are not born with a talent for catching a cricket ball. This can lead to a lot of embarrassing moments for them in the field! No one wants to be the fielder that drops the ball when you have an opportunity to get the opposing team’s best player out!
Thankfully, we can all improve our catching abilities by making sure we have all of the basics right, and putting some hard work in along the way! In this post I’m going to share 13 of my favourite catching tips with you. I promise you if you put these tips to use then they’ll make a difference to your game in no time!
Here are my 13 tips for improving your cricket catching abilities:
- Visualise The Shot A Batsman Might Play That Will Result In A Catch
- Make Sure You Regularly Take Part In Catching Drills
- Get Into A Balanced Position As The ball Is About To Be Bowled
- Keep Your Eye On The Ball
- Try To Improve Your Reaction Time
- Use The Orthodox Cup & Reverse Cup Catching Method
- Use The Hard Ball As Often As Possible In Your Practice Sessions
- Practice One Handed Catches
- Get Positioned Underneath The High Ball As Quickly As Possible
- Use Your Hands To Soften The Blow From The Cricket Ball
- Remember To Wear The Right Headgear When The Sun Is Out!
- Develop A Way To Concentrate Your Mind Before Each Delivery
- Work On Boundary Catches With Your Teammates
Now let’s go into these tips in a bit more detail! I’ll also share some example drills that you can use to start working on your catching skills immediately. Read on to find those!
Visualise The Shot A Batsman Might Play That Will Result In A Catch
I find visualisation very useful for cricket, whether it be for batting, bowling or fielding!
While fielding, it may help you to imagine the sort of shot a batsman may play that will result in them hitting the ball at a catchable height in your direction. For example, if you are fielding at the cover position (click here to see my full breakdown of all the fielding positions), then any ball that travels in your direction will probably come from the batsman playing the cover drive! If you keep a mental image of the batsman playing a lofted cover drive towards you in your head, then it can help to prepare you for the catch you will have to take.
I like to think about what sort of ball the bowler will have to bowl in order for the batsman to hit the ball towards me, and the position the batsman will have to get his body in to do so! Visualising this sort of thing as the bowler approaches the crease really helps me to stay focused on every ball, which is vital for a fielder. It also helps to prepare your body for the catch you will have to take!
Obviously, a catch could present itself to you in a very different way from the one you are picturing in your head, therefore it is necessary to remain balanced and on your toes, ready to react to any shot the batsman plays!
Make Sure You Regularly Take Part In Catching Drills
Most cricketers are very willing to put a lot of time into practicing their batting and bowling, but a lot of them are less willing to practice fielding! There’s a reason the modern professional cricketers are such good fielders nowadays, and that is the number of hours that they put in on the practice field!
If you want to improve your catching, you should be including some drills in all of your club practice sessions, and getting in as much practice as you can at home too!
Here are just a few drills you can use to practice catching…
High Catching Drills
This one is simple! Have a coach or a partner hit/throw the ball high up into the air as high as they can. Your only task will be to complete the catch and then throw the ball quickly back to where it came from! It is the most effective way to practice high catches and simulates a game situation perfectly!
Close Catching Drills
These drills are designed to test your reactions! The ball will be coming towards you much quicker and closer to the ground. There are a few different ways you can do this:
Play Catch With A Partner – Stand around 5 metres away from a partner and get them to throw the ball towards you fast and hard. You will have to get yourself in a crouched/balanced position and react quickly to the ball in order to take the catch. Ask your partner to throw the ball towards different parts of your body to give you a more difficult catching test. Once you have caught the ball, throw it back towards your partner so they can have a go at catching it too! I like this drill, because you can set yourselves little challenges. One of my personal favourites is the first one to drop a ball has to do 20 press ups! That certainly provides a little bit of motivation!
Use a Katchet Training Aid With A Partner – Katchet training aids are used all the time by professionals during catching practice. They are basically small ramps that are placed on the ground a few feet in front of the person who is looking to practice their catches. Your partner should throw the ball at the ramp at different angles! This causes the ball to fly off the ramp at different angles giving you a tough catching test! The Katchet training aid can also help you practice your batting in the same way! Place the training aid around 4-5 metres away from the crease and have someone throw a ball onto the ramp while you attempt to hit the ball! It adds a bit of uncertainty to your batting practice which is great when you want to simulate batting in dangerous conditions! If you’d like to check the current price of the Katchet training aid then click here!
Use A Rebound Net – Rebound nets are great because they allow you to practice close catches without a partner or anyone else being involved! Rebound nets basically consist of a net that is tightly wound around an adjustable metal frame. This means that when a ball is thrown at the net, it will bounce off at an accelerated speed! Also, because you can adjust the angle of the metal frame, you can get the ball to bounce towards you at different angles! I used these quite a bit when I was younger when I had no one to practice with, and they’re still just as relevant now! I would stand a few metres away from the net, throw the ball onto it at an exaggerated angle, and pretend I was fielding in the slips for England before trying to take an acrobatic catch!
Have A Partner Glance The Ball Off The Face Of The Bat – This is a type of practice that you’ll see a lot of professional teams using, and it works best when you have 3-4 people looking to practice their close catching at once!
One player (or the coach) should act as the batsman, while another player or coach throws the ball forcefully towards them. The 3-4 players hoping to practice their catches should form a slip cordon behind the batsman! Once the ball is thrown, the coach/player acting as the batsman should glance the ball off the face of the bat to where slip fielders are waiting. From here, whoever is closest to the ball should be trying to take the catch cleanly! This is one of the best ways to practice slip catching and I would recommend it very highly! If you’re unsure about where the fielders should be standing during this drill then here is a diagram that should illustrate it for you.
There are loads more drills that you can do! I’m sure your coaches will have plenty more ideas! If you’re serious about improving your catching, you should be practicing whenever you can! It’s the only way to get better!
Get Into A Balanced Position As The ball Is About To Be Bowled
You should always aim to get your body into a balanced position just before the ball is going to be bowled. Getting into this position is the foundation of any movement that you will make once the ball has been struck by the batsman! If you’re nicely balanced when the ball is hit, it will make it easier for you to react quickly to the ball and set off/throw a hand out in its direction.
I would recommend standing with your feet about a shoulder width apart, and making sure that your weight is evenly distributed over both of your feet. As the ball is bowled, I recommend bending your knees slightly and pushing up on to the balls of your feet. This is a nice explosive position from which you can set off quickly in the direction of the ball! Your arms should also be slightly bent too, ready to move quickly if a catch comes your way. A lot of players have a tendency to rest their hands on their knees in between deliveries. This is fine as long as you remove them before the ball is bowled! Oh, and definitely don’t have your hands in your pockets as the bowler is running in! I’ve seen many fielders getting blasted by their team mates for doing that!
It is especially important to get into the balanced position that I just described when you’re fielding close to the wicket or anywhere inside the inner ring. If you’re fielding out on the boundary then you don’t really have to stand with your feet spread and your knees bent. You can stand more upright, just ensure you are alert and on the balls of your feet ready to set off towards the ball if it comes in your direction. Always be prepared for the ball to come to you!
Keep Your Eye On The Ball
I feel like I include this tip in a lot of my posts but it really is so important that I can’t possibly leave it out!
In order to be consistently successful when catching the ball, it’s important to try to watch it all the way into your hands. Watching the ball closely in this way allows us to pick up more information about the trajectory and speed of the ball as it moves through the air. This information then allows us to get our hands in the best possible position to take the catch!
In your practice sessions, really try to focus on watching the ball right into your hands. This helps us to concentrate more and the more you practice doing it, the more natural it will feel. A lot of players have a tendency to stop watching the ball as closely as it gets halfway towards them! If you can teach yourself to watch it a little bit longer it can make you much more likely to take a difficult catch!
Try To Improve Your Reaction Time
The time we take to react to things that occur in sport is mostly genetic, however, there are several things we can do to get ourselves moving a little quicker on the cricket field.
The easiest way to ensure you’re reacting quickly enough to the ball in order to catch it is to do some close catching practice like I explained in one of the earlier sections. If you get used to catching the ball in practice, then the better your reactions will be during a game.
One type of practice I used regularly was as follows:
- Get a partner and stand opposite them, around 5-10 metres away. Then turn your back on them so you’re facing the opposite way!
- Your partner should be armed with a tennis ball. They should count from 1-3 and on 3 they should throw the ball towards you.
- When you hear the count of 3 you can quickly spin round and attempt to catch the ball.
This is a great drill because it is so simple, and it requires you to locate the ball and react to it incredibly quickly! If you want more of a challenge you can ask your partner to throw the ball a bit quicker!
I wouldn’t recommend doing this drill with a hard cricket ball because there’s an increased chance of getting hit when you have your back to the ball! If you do perform the drill while using a hard ball, ask your partner to throw the ball away from your body.
I also bought myself a speed reaction ball! These are tiny balls which have raised edges on them. The raised edges on the surface of the ball causes it to bounce at random angles when it hits the ground. This type of ball is great for improving your reflexes as you’re never sure which direction it is going to bounce in, so you’re always reacting on the fly! A simple practice to do with this kind of ball is to just throw it against a wall and try to catch it once it bounces back towards you! These balls are also really cheap on Amazon…so if you’d like to check the current price click here!
Use The Orthodox Cup & Reverse Cup Catching Method
This tip was a game changer for me in youth cricket when my coach told me about it, and it made me a lot more comfortable catching the cricket ball. However, I’m still shocked how many adult players don’t know the difference between the orthodox and reverse cup method of catching! The pictures below should clear it all up! The orthodox cup method of catching requires you to put your palms together, and point your fingers down towards the ground. The reverse cup method is the opposite, and requires you to put your palms together while pointing your fingers towards the sky!
You should choose which position to put your hands in based on the height of the ball when it reaches you. The basic rules I like to stick to are as follows:
- If the ball is above the height of your stomach when it reaches you, you should be taking the catch using the reverse cup method, with your fingers pointing towards the sky. If you need to, you can bend your knees slightly and crouch to make this an even more comfortable catch.
- If the ball is below the height of your stomach when it reaches you, you should be taking the catch using the orthodox cup method, with your fingers pointing down towards the ground.
Whenever you practice fielding and catching, focus on taking your catches in this way. A good way to practice is to get someone to stand directly opposite you and throw balls towards you at different heights. Ask them to throw some of the balls low towards your feet, some up high towards your head, and some around your mid-section. The different heights of the ball will require you to use the different cup methods and this is a great way to get accustomed to using them!
Use The Hard Ball As Often As Possible In Your Practice Sessions
In my opinion you need to make sure you’re practicing catching with the real hard cricket ball regularly! The hardness of the ball is what intimidates some players, and scares them away from taking catches! Especially when the ball has been hit really forcefully by the batsman!
The only way to get used to the impact and become comfortable catching the hard cricket ball is by practicing with them! Obviously, you can do some practice with different sorts of balls (tennis balls/wind balls), but I’d definitely recommend doing some practice sessions with the hard ball if you can!
I’ve said this in many of my other posts, but I always believe you should be making your practice sessions as difficult as the situations you’re going to be in during a match. Using the hard cricket ball in practice will fully prepare you for what you will face in real game situations!
Practice One Handed Catches
There will be times during a game where the ball gets to you so fast and at such a difficult angle that it becomes impossible to get yourself in a position to catch the ball with two hands. Sometimes, fielders will be required to jump around and try to take a more spectacular one-handed catch!
Seeing as you might be required to take one of these catches during a game, I’d recommend practicing them too! All of the best fielders in the modern game are capable of taking these amazing athletic catches and making it look easy! Luckily, there’s some pretty easy ways to practice them! Here is just one example of a drill that could help:
- Get a partner to stand opposite you around 5 metres away
- Have them throw the ball towards you at a decent pace. But tell them to make sure that they place the ball far away enough from you that you can only catch it one handed.
- They should vary the direction in which they throw the ball. Testing you low to your left and right, but also high above your head on both sides.
- Because the ball is being thrown quickly, it will require you to react fast to get your hand in position to catch the ball.
The more you take catches like this in practice, the more comfortable you will become! Plus, it’s a great way to have fun. I loved diving around in practice and trying to recreate some of the famous diving catches, it was always a good laugh and a good way to burn off a bit of energy!
In other sports like American football, players are required to take one handed catches regularly. Therefore, they will work on these constantly during practice, often catching over 100 balls in that way! I like to apply a similar approach to cricket. Obviously it isn’t always realistic to catch 100 balls one handed during your cricket practice…but if you’re really serious about improving that area of your game you should be looking to put in 10-15 minutes of one handed catch drills!
Get Positioned Underneath The High Ball As Quickly As Possible
When taking high catches, you need to quickly move to where the ball is going to land and get yourself ready to take the catch. If you fail to get yourself properly underneath the ball, you will be a lot less balanced as the ball reaches you. This makes catching a lot harder! Of course, there are some situations where it is impossible to get underneath the ball and set your feet in a good balanced position before taking the catch. Sometimes the ball is just too far away from us! But if possible, we should always aim to get ourselves directly underneath the ball.
Being able to do this well only comes with practice. You’ll need to learn to judge the speed and the distance on the ball as quickly as possible, and you will learn this through experience!
The best way to practice getting into position nice and early is to get a coach or a partner to hit a ball high in the air away from you. Your task will then be to track the ball through the air and take the catch. In this situation, there are a few things you should remember:
- Keep your eyes on the ball at all times. This is the only way to be able to accurately judge its flight and speed
- When you set off in the direction of the ball, move quickly to get yourself in the general area you think the ball is going to land.
- Once you’re approaching where you think the ball is going to land, you can slow down and make more accurate steps before getting your hands in position to take the catch.
Obviously, if the ball is very far away you may have to sprint and dive for the ball with no chance to slow down and set yourself! But with time and experience you will know when this is required!
If this is a weakness of yours, make sure you practice high catching plenty of times per week. The only way to build confidence under the high ball is to get a few successful catches under your belt!
Use Your Hands To Soften The Blow From The Cricket Ball
As most of you will know, cricket balls are hard. When they strike parts of our body, it will often hurt! This is one of the reasons why a lot of players get scared of taking catches when the ball is hit so forcefully towards them! They know that when they stick their hands out and the cricket ball makes contact with them, there is a high chance it could be painful!
If you approach catching in this way, then there is a good chance that you will drop more balls than you catch! Instead of sticking your hands out and letting the ball hit them, you should be looking to move your hands as the ball makes contact with them in order to cushion the blow. This movement helps to lessen the severity of the impact!
Let’s look at a couple of examples:
- If you’re taking a high catch, where the ball has been hit high in the air – You should look to position yourself under the ball early and get your hands in a comfortable catching position as the ball drops towards you. I like to put my hands in the reverse cup position, around 10 centimetres in front of my chin. As the ball is about to touch your hands, tilt your head towards either shoulder and pull your hands towards your opposite shoulder. Pulling your hands towards your body in this way means that the ball does not have to slow down as quickly. This means it won’t hurt your hands as much! Tilting your head to the side slightly as you make the catch ensures that the ball will not accidentally hit your face!
- If you’re taking a low flat catch, where the ball has been hit directly towards you – You should be looking to get into a balanced position. I like to crouch slightly as I judge the height or the ball! For this example we’ll say the ball is coming towards you at hip height! At the same time as the ball makes contact with your hands you should pull the ball in towards your body.
Taking catches in this way means that the ball doesn’t slow down as quickly. When you keep your hands in the same place as you catch the ball, it causes it to slow down immediately, and this is what causes you the most pain! Bringing your hands in towards you as you take the catch is a great way of cushioning the blow!
Remember to make sure that the ball is in your hands before you move them! You don’t want to make the move too early and drop the ball! After doing this for a while you will get used to the timing of the movement!
Remember To Wear The Right Headgear When The Sun Is Out!
In order to keep our eye on the ball at all times, sometimes it will be necessary to wear sunglasses or a hat while fielding!
I’m guessing most of you will have tried to take a high catch where the ball crosses the path of the sun during its flight. The sunlight can make it nearly impossible for you to take the catch!
To combat this, you should always keep a cricket hat, a cap, or some sunglasses in your kit bag! My personal preference is to use a combination of them – I always make sure I take sunglasses and a cap to games with me in case the sun comes out! These items make it easier for you to deal with sunnier conditions, and could be the difference between you taking an easy catch and dropping it!
There’s no excuse to not have these items…you can pick them up pretty cheaply from most sports retailers. Here are a couple of examples that I would definitely recommend:
Click here to view a pair of sunglasses on Amazon that are cheap, and suitable for all sorts of physical activity. Plus they also come with interchangeable lenses! Beware though, they may not fit children, so you may have to check the size before you buy!
Click here to go to Amazon and check the price of the England Cricket World Cup cap. It’s a great option that many people may choose to wear casually, not just during a cricket match!
Oh, you should probably bear in mind that it may take you a little while to get used to playing in sunglasses! They change the colour of your surroundings, and this can make the cricket ball look different! I’d recommend practicing while wearing the glasses before you use them during a match to get used to the different visual cues you’ll be picking up!
Remember, you should also consider wearing sunglasses if you’re playing cricket under floodlights!
Develop A Way To Concentrate Your Mind Before Each Delivery
Lapses in concentration in the field are one of the biggest causes of dropped catches. If you let your mind wander for a second and start thinking about what you want for lunch, and the ball comes quickly in your direction, you will be much less likely to take the catch!
The best fielders develop ways to enhance their concentration during long days in the field. Some like to talk to themselves and remind themselves to watch the ball, whereas some like to walk away and clear their mind after the delivery has been bowled before getting back into their fielding stance and resuming their concentration!
Everyone is different, so find something that works for you, and do it. It’s so important to treat every ball as if it is going to come to you! I try to see every ball as an opportunity for me to make an impact on the game while I am fielding! Getting yourself into a state of concentration as the batsman is about to receive the ball will make it much easier for you to react quicker.
Also, make sure you have enough sleep the night before a cricket match! Being very sleep deprived can severely harm your reaction time and your decision-making abilities, and this can cost you when batting and fielding! Aim to get at least 8 hours sleep per night.
Work On Boundary Catches With Your Teammates
Any of you that watch cricket regularly will have seen that in the last 5 years there has been a big increase in multiple-player catches on the boundary.
In order to complete a catch and get the batsman out, you must not step on or over the boundary rope. Sometimes, fielders will take a catch near the boundary but their momentum will take them over the rope! If this happens, it will be recorded as a 6 for the batsman. To stop this happening, professional teams teach their boundary fielders to work in pairs! This means that when one player takes the catch and cannot stop themselves from stepping over the boundary rope, they can quickly toss the ball to their teammate who should have positioned themselves close by! This fielder will then complete the catch for them.
This method of catching requires a great deal of team work, and it’s definitely something that will need to be worked on a bit in practice! If you think it’s worth it, mention it to your coach and they should easily be able to set up a quick fielding drill to practice this.
Ask the coach to hit or throw the ball up in the air, with two fielders stood around 20 yards away from each other on the boundary. As one player runs to take the catch, ask the other fielder to position themselves around 5-10 yards away when the catch is taken. As the first fielder catches the ball, they should look for their partner and quickly throw the ball to them. Simulating this kind of thing in your practice sessions mean that your players will be much more prepared if the same situations arise during a game!