Imagine opening the batting for Kings XI Punjab in Mohali. The opposition is Deccan Chargers and standing at the end of his run is no less that Dale Steyn; one of the world’s most destructive pacemen.
It’s fair to say your heart would be racing. That’s a situation experienced by 20 year old Punjab opener Mandeep Singh. Yet despite the pressure, the pace and fear he is flourishing. Many critics have him on the fast-track to becoming India’s next big thing.
How does he stay calm under pressure and play fast bowling so well? There are some simple training techniques you can use:
Groove your technique
There is no point starting your quest to playing pace by facing the bowling machine at 145kph. You need to have faith in your technique and that means:
Bowling machine/throwdown at a slow pace
Here you can work on getting properly aligned and balanced to defend, drive or play a cross bat shot.
Many players skip this part, thinking their technique is good enough that they don’t need to do any simple grooving. But every session that you do that hones your positioning is locking in muscle memory for more advanced drills.
Challenge your reactions
While you work on your basic positioning, you can also challenge your eyes, reactions and technique at pace.
You can do this by having a coach or batting buddy underarm a series of 4-6 balls in quick succession. This forces you to quickly decide to play or leave.
You can step up the pace of this again by facing tennis balls hit with a racquet. For demonstrations of these drills have a look at Gary Palmer’s Build Confidence with Solid Defensive Technique and Tactics online coaching course.
Know what makes you confident
Mandeep Singh’s success is not just down to technique. He feels confident about his ability too. He knows he can play very fast bowling and so plays with excitement rather than fear.
You will have your own methods for building confidence (outside of practice). Learn what your best routine is, and stick with it, get your self-talk right and be sound in your role in the side.
You may not be facing Steyn anytime soon, but when you do come up against a bowler who is fast enough to challenge you, you will be confident that you will succeed because you have put in the work, just like Mandeep Singh.