I employed a baseball coach called Will Lintern to teach the Ireland Cricket Team to hit stumps on a more regular basis in the lead up to the 2011 World Cup. The aim was to become the best ground fielding team in the world.
Our indicators were number of clean pick ups, run outs and direct hits.
Will coached a number of principles yet the ones that are easiest to remember are the 3 Keys to Accuracy:
We will start with Vision first as its often the one which is not coached at all and actually has a significant influence on the other two keys.
Use your eyes to aid balance and direction
Having good vision of your target is fundamental to having a strong, accurate throw. Without good vision there can be no balance or direction as the body has a tendency to go in the direction that your eyes are looking at. Any skateboarder or snowboarder will realise this as their coaches constantly them that the board follows their eyes. Where you look is where you will go.
The same applies to throwing. Fix your eyes on your target and note the difference you have in your balance, direction and therefore, accuracy.
The merging of two lines - sight-line trajectory and ball trajectory
Technology allows us to track both fielder’s sight lines and ball trajectory in lab conditions.
From this research it has been established that average fielders have a tendency to track the ball as quickly as they can (as the ball is deemed to be more important/interesting than the target). This shift in vision causes an imbalance in the final stages of the throwing technique and affects accuracy hugely.
When a fielder keeps their eyes fixed on the target retains their balance and direction in the last stages of the throwing technique. This leads to the ball trajectory path and the sight-line trajectory path to merge prior to hitting the stumps or keepers gloves. The merging of these two lines is essential in consistent stump hitting.
This simple diagram, below depicts the merging of the two trajectories prior to hitting the stumps or keepers gloves.
Although the science behind the role of vision in accurate stump hitting is relatively complex, the principle remains simple.
- Your body is directed by your line of vision (balance, directional alignment leads to accuracy)
- Fix your eyes on the target to cause the merging of ball and sight trajectories to increase accuracy
So Will Lintern came to work with Ireland, coached the principles above and Ireland topped both the run-out table with 10 run outs from 6 matches and the direct-hit table with 21 direct hits at the 2011 World Cup. Graeme Smith told me that Ireland were the ground fielding benchmark in World Cricket.
Good Job Will!