“I just try to stand still”
The young batsman had told me he was having trouble working out his pre-delivery movement, or trigger.
He is a thoughtful player and during the season had tied himself up in mental knots trying different triggers with no change to his batting performance. He knew it was time to get to the bottom of it.
The trouble with triggers
Back in the day, there was no such thing as a trigger move. You stood still and watched the ball. This method still has plenty of supporters today, but there is a problem.
Standing still doesn’t work for everyone.
Some people need a trigger. So, if you are one of those, “just standing still” is holding you back. But that’s a fact unknown to the guys who like to stand still.
Nonetheless, you see pre-delivery movements all the time in professional cricket for a reason. Triggers are effective at priming your body and mind for action. They help with rhythm and timing.
When they work.
And that’s the other trouble. Triggers are extra complexity and easy to get wrong. You might think you trigger like a pro but when you look on the video you end up almost tripping over your own feet.
Which brings us back to the lad at the start of this article.
Where are you now?
I threw a few balls for the player, asking him to just bat with no focus on triggers or anything else. After a dozen or so deliveries we reviewed on the PV/ONE video replay.
Despite his intention of standing still and watching the ball, we could see he was making an unconscious step towards the ball regardless of length: His trigger was a plant.
(A plant is when you respond to every ball by stepping forward the same way, regardless of length)
It was clear his body wanted to move, but it was also clear a plant was cutting off a lot of shots, especially off the back foot.
Listen to your body
We knew we needed to stop the plant, so I proposed we try and integrate a forward movement into a deliberate trigger move. I was hoping this would feel natural to the player and would click with him quickly rather than trying to force a difficult change on him.
The key point here is that you need to listen to what your body is telling you.
Standing still might work for you, or it might lead to an issue. Back and across could be the answer, or a forward press, but you can’t be sure until you try it and see how you respond. Usually, if it feels right, it works too.
After some underarm and overarm drills, some experimenting and some dead ends, we settled on a two step trigger move that echoed the plant. The difference was he got the front front movement done before the ball was bowled.
This allowed him to be ready to move forward or back again, while not locking him in to playing forward.
Once he got the timing of the movement right, I could see a marked improvement in his back foot play against bowling.
More importantly, it felt natural to do this. It was a simple timing adjustment, not a change of footwork. He started doing it right away.
And this is the ultimate goal of a trigger.
Do whatever you need to do to be ready to move in response to the ball.
For the player I was coaching, this was a small movement and slight pause as the ball was released. For you it might be to stand still or something else.
Experiment with it in nets and see what you can discover.
You’ll know quickly what feels right. Then work with it.