It's when two teammates join forces: The better batsman coaching the weaker one with the aim of improving the tail-enders skill with the blade.
It seems to be working for Monty Panesar and James Anderson: The unlikely English batting heroes of the first Ashes Test of 2009. Monty and Jimmy teamed up with the more recognised Paul Collingwood and Alistair Cook to work on their game and ended up batting out for a draw.
The question is; if it worked for those four, can it work at club level?
If the partnership is right, it could be a real boon to the team. If your side has a coach (and many don't, relying on the captain to act as head coach) he will rarely have time to work on the batting skills of lower order batsmen. That problem is neatly solved by pairing up: The better batsman providing coaching advice and mentoring to the weaker one.
It's not all one way traffic either. The batsman in the partnership can improve his or her ability to spot and correct technical flaws, the former skill being very useful when working out the opposition batsman's weaknesses in the field. Plus, you get a deeper insight into a team mate. Ideally, although not always, for the better of the team.
It seems a good idea to me. At club level coaching resources are severely limited, so why not exploit what you have?
How to work with a batting buddy
Let's imagine you have been buddied up and left to get on with it by the coach. What happens next?
It would be a bit short term to get straight into the coaching. A good pair will ideally work together over a long period, learning how each other tick to get the most out of the situation. If you don't know this already, it may be worth sitting down initially to talk about what you want to work on, and how you like to train.
Once you have a few basic rules you can get to work. The buddies can work together in several ways:
- Technical batting drills with the aim of developing or improving shots. The batting buddy dropping balls, giving throwdowns or feeding the machine while using coaching methods like shaping and chaining.
- Net coaching; the batting buddy watches the weaker player in the nets noting technical errors (and also things they do right). Although it's not ideal to coach directly during these sessions, the batting buddy can get a better idea of what to work on.
- Tactical discussions where the players talk each other through different game situations and learn how to play.
- Mental training in which the better player passes on the tricks he or she uses to be confident, stay calm and concentrate through an innings.
A really good batting buddy might also set 'homework' for his partner. This could simple stuff like thinking about ways to improve themselves all the way through to goal setting techniques and drills to perform away from training (for example stretches to help a player improve posture so he can play shots with less restriction of movement).
Just to spice things up, I'm going to set you a mission.
Whether you are a batter or a bowler, find someone in your team to buddy up with at your next training session. Once you have done it leave a comment and let us know:
- How the session went.
- Wether you think it's worthwhile doing as a long term partnership.
I have never seen batting buddies in the teams I have played in or coached, so I want to know how well the system works at club, school and youth level. Leave a comment and let us all know if it works for you.
If you want the world's best batting buddy, check out Gary Palmer's interactive coaching courses. Gary's drills, tips and advice are online 24-7 for you to seek out and use to improve your game.