One of the most common pieces of advice from top bowling coaches is to learn to "brace the front leg". But that's a technical term, and it's not obvious to everyone what it means, or how to do it. So, here are more details about how and why you brace the front leg to bowl fast.
Alan Murdoch was our Strength and Conditioning Coach at Millfield school (he recently picked up a new job with Bath Rugby). He speaks my language, and I used some of his fitness advice to improve batting technique.
When one of the players came into The Bubble and really struggled with balanced at ball strike, the solution to the problem was simple.
Here is your one-stop for cricket fielding drills.
These drills are the fastest way to improve your essential cricket fielding skills. There is nowhere with a more comprehensive set of free fielding drills than here on PitchVision Academy.
Picture the scene. It's time for training. You, as a batsman, have your regular opportunity for a constructive practice session with your coach or fellow team mates. Before you put your pads on, consider what does constructive actually mean? What does it look like for you?
Too many times at club, academy and university level, "constructive" takes the form of the batsman playing a glorious array of inappropriate shots without a game context in mind, inevitably squandering their wicket on a host of occasions.
I would be lying if I said I’ve never had one of these before myself as a player!
That is not constructive. So what is? Following on from David's article on having clear goals at open nets, here is one example of what "constructive" looks like.
When you strive for the edge you hear a lot of new ideas. "Sensory development" is one of these ideas. On the PitchVision Academy Cricket Show we often ask questions like, "Does eye training really work, or is it a myth?" and "Can we improve our communication methods by removing our auditory systems?"
All very good questions, but when I tested them, in a series of training sessions recently, I wasn't interested in answering any of these questions.
What was I doing?
This is a guest posted drill from Laurie Ward of Complete Cricketer Academy.
This is the most terrifying batting drill you will ever experience. We call it "The Nazgul" because in Lord of the Rings, nothing is as scary as a Nazgul!
For the coach, it brings out the inner sadist. For the players, it's a way to work on hitting the ball into the right areas, even when you are exhausted and just want it to stop. It won't because there is no respite.
And also for that reason, we are careful about who we put through the pain. We do this with older junior and senior players with a of fitness and cricket, and some signs of mental strength. To help with motivation - which you will need - we have a league table and benchmark the levels.
So what is this awful experience?
Have you noticed that some batters set up differently?
Bent knees and a slightly wider base are notable in Kevin Pietersen, Graeme Smith and Gary Ballance. They move completely differently. Their movements don't relate to those coaching words and terms that I have often been exposed to in during my 22 year coaching career.
How do you coach players like this when they struggle with technical issues?
I watched a bowling session last week with Kevin Shine, the Lead Fast Bowling Coach for the ECB. The topic was one that was discussed recently by Steffan Jones: bowling yorkers.
Andrew Strauss reminded today of a brilliant bowling machine drill which we were introduced to by Shiv Chanderpaul.
Why do some people pick up cricket skills better and faster than others?
Knowing yourself? Absolutely.
Don't panic, I'm not suggesting you disappear for 7 years on a journey of discovery to confront your guilt and become a Ninjitsu master like Batman. Learning how you learn is simply a matter of trying things until you find the methods that click with you most quickly. Everyone is different, so keep trying; you'll find several that work.