2 Reasons You Are Not Timing the Ball Well | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

2 Reasons You Are Not Timing the Ball Well

This is a guest article from club player AB about 2 common mistakes all batsmen make when trying to time the ball well and score runs.
I’m sure you have said it:

"I just couldn't get my timing right on that slow pitch"

Or you heard a coach say, "you don't need to hit it hard, just time it nicely".

But what does that actually mean?

Good timing is a matter of the bat coming down at exactly the right time so that the ball both strikes the middle of the bat, and then leaves it in exactly the direction the batsman was intending.

Simple when you put it like that; but it’s easy to go wrong too.

There are two different ways in which timing goes wrong - and a cross bat shot and a straight bat shot will typically suffer from poor timing in different ways.

 1. High on the bat vs. low on the bat

 This is mainly an issue with cross bat shots, particularly the pull.

It's perfectly possible to play the exact right shot to a short delivery, but if you're a fraction early or late, instead of flying to the boundary, the ball will squirt off weakly towards midwicket.

Bring the bat around too late, the ball will have travelled that little bit further and will make contact with the splice instead of the middle; bring the bat around too soon, and the ball will hit the toe of the bat.

How do you get around the issue?

It’s important to get a feeling for the pace of a pitch and the bowler before attempting expansive cross bat shots.

You may get a juicy long hop early on, but if you have misjudged the pace of the pitch, you may find that instead of landing in the trees the other side of the square leg boundary, your poorly timed shot floats straight into the hands of a grateful midwicket fielder.

Just watch the pace and bounce for an over or two first, and you will be in position to make a better judgement on those aggressive shots.

 2. Into the ground vs. up in the air

 The second timing problem affects the drive.

We all know the dangers of driving too early on a slow pitch, but the opposite problem brings its own issues: if the bat comes down too early, you will make contact with the ball beyond the vertical and the shot will be "uppish".

It may possibly even go straight up if the pace of the pitch or the bowler is particularly badly judged.

This is immediately fatal, so cautious batsmen overcompensate and hit their drives into the ground.

Although this isn't going to result in a wicket directly, the ball also isn't going to go very far and the batsman will soon get frustrated about his inability to get the ball away through the infield.

Aiming to hit the ball along the ground is not the same as hitting it into the ground.

Practicing your timing

The way to practice improving timing is to be aware of what is happening.

Whether you're practising in the nets or trying to find some touch out in the middle, and the ball just doesn't seem to be coming off the bat right, ask yourself:

 "How is my timing - am I playing too late or too early, and what adjustments can I make?"

Knowing what the problem is will be a step in the right direction. You can then start to make adjustments based on the feel of what is happening.

This is easier in practice sessions than in the middle, but awareness is the first step.

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More information on the author please. What is his/her name and where do they coach or play?

Why are you interested Ben?

I'm looking for a coach for my son.

Oh right ok, where are you based exactly?

The secret of 'timing' the ball is when you hit it and how you hit it. The later you hit the ball for straight shots (under your eyes used to be the phrase) the better the timing seems to be. With cross bat shots you need to hit at FULL ARM length of the bottom hand (right arm for a right hand batter) so your point of contact is perfected.

I feel timing is more about point of contact and less about backswing, pace of pitch etc.

Positioning and point of contact are the keys to timing. You get into a rhythm this way and anyone can train it.

Hi Ian. Thanks for your comment.

I think what you are trying to say is that bat speed is maximised at full arm stretch (basic laws of rotational dynamics dictate this), and hence more momentum is transferred into the ball at contact. That's entirely true, but its not what we mean by timing per se.

Also in relation to straight bat shots, if you look at my article, I discuss how it is possible to mistime a drive by hitting it too late - this results in the ball being hit into the ground and energy being lost. For straight bat shots you need good bat speed, and make contact when the bat is approximately 5-10 degrees back of the vertical. With a good high front elbow and front shoulder lead, that should be just in front of the eyes (as you say).

Ben - David is away on holiday this week, but when he gets back I am sure he will point you in the direction of a good local contact for your son. Ignore "Ant Friel", we sometime get offensive spam posts like this. David will probably delete it when he is back.

Not a problem. Don't let this guy put you off. I have been following David Hinchliffe for some years now, from the Harrowdrive days, and there is some great stuff on here. Have a look around, you are sure to find some great articles that will help you and your son.

I just have to go and tell my wife that I am an offensive spam bot. Not sure how she will take it!

I have deleted posts that include any directly offensive comments. Everyone is entitled to an opinion but we must have respect. Feel free to repost your thoughts with personal remarks removed.

Furthermore, if you see any of these posts, feel free to email me for them to be removed.

I didn't talk about batting styles to be honest, but rather mentioned it was something else that was more important in attempting to work out why a batsman might mistime the ball.

You can time the ball whether you hit it in the air or into the ground so please don't be confused AB, as you appeared to be in your piece. I appreciate your article is attempting to explain timing but there is no definitive here, and there is no description on what drills to time the ball (how to train it). Your article appeared to just be about hitting too soon or too late using hitting up or down as a good or bad thing. You can still time a ball by hitting it late or early AB. You can squeeze a ball for 4 timed to perfection yet hit late. You can smoke a towering 6 by hitting through the ball taken early.

Having spent many years working with International Players and can assure readers that even different world class players time the ball in different ways due to the bat angles, grip and point of contact. Batsmen with wristy styles time the ball differently to those who have 'classic' elbow positions and are more rigid. Some batsmen lean into the shots and effectively 'push' the ball. Others flick it, or hit it hard. Some have locked out wrists (flat swing) more like golf. Others 'punch' the ball like Flintoff used to.

Timing is very personal and is also affected by a players height, reach, power and ability to keep the bat face square through the hitting zone. Even I would find it hard to be definitive why a player would miss time the ball. Simply things like "you are hitting too late" or "hitting too early" are somewhat obvious and don't really give us anything.

There is a danger with coaches making things way too complicated and it is the role of a good coach to simplify things. Most of the leading coaches coach the batters to keep the bat square to the ball 12 inches before the ball and 12 inches after the ball, giving a 24 inch 'hitting zone'. If a batter does that there is a high chance they will be in the best position to time the ball. But HOW they time it depends on so many factors you haven't listed.

The biggest reason why players mistime the ball is they are not hitting it correctly. To be definitive on why that is, is not an easy subject. In the same way why bowlers don't feel they have rhythm when they bowl. Far too many factors at play to be precise in a generic way.

I admire your effort to write about it, but feel it deserves a far deeper rationale then too early too late.

Ian, you keep using the phrase "time the ball", but you haven't explained what that actually means in simple physics. You mean it hits the middle of the bat? You mean the full momentum of the shot is transferred into the ball? Please be explicit what you mean. Refusing to leave supposedly "common knowledge" unexplained is the whole point of this article, after all. I feel like a beginning player could read your comment and be impressed by your knowledge of "hitting zones" and the like, but still not really understand what you are talking about.

You also haven't differentiated between deliberately taking the ball early (full momentum transfer, middle of bat strike), and unintentionally hitting the ball too early (low momentum transfer, ball connects with toe).

1. AB it is your article, not mine. This isn't about what I may or may not know.

2. You ask me what 'timing the ball' means but I feel that most people already know it is a feeling where the ball seems to melt off the bat.

3. I just felt that the premise of 'being aware' of timing as a solution for timing, wasn't really that helpful :shrugs shoulders:

As I explained in my post above most world class coaches talk about hitting zones and keeping the bat square to the ball through that zone. This gives you the best chance of timing the ball.

I know Ian, I thought we were having a discussion as to what timing actually means scientifically, and the direct causes of whether this happens or not. But first we must establish that we are both talking about the same phenomenon.

Saying "most people already know what it means" is clearly not true! Just because you "feel it melt off the bat" it when it happens does NOT mean you understand how and why that happens. Unless you can actually explain a phenomenon in scientific terms then you clearly don't understand it at all.

It's all very well saying you don't think the article makes for a helpful drill, but that's because its not supposed to be. There is far too much to be said about the mechanics of hitting a cricket ball to be included in one article. I'm trying to start off by explaining what timing actually is, which is something that everyone tells me that "everyone already understands", yet no-one seems to actually be able to explain. In my book, if you can't explain something clearly, then you don't understand it after all.

"Hitting zones" are just a spatial version of the temporal concept of timing. In front of the hitting zone is equivalent to being early on the ball, and behind the hitting zone is equivalent to being late on the ball.

"Unless you can actually explain a phenomenon in scientific terms then you clearly don't understand it at all."

I don't agree, but then, I think Ian has explained it really well. Although I am not a great cricketer; just a science fellow!

However, if you believe it AB, does the fact that you have failed to expain it, even in the simplest of terms, means that you do not understand it [at all]?

If this is the case, why did you consider yourself qualified to write an article on it?

Just curious.

Hi Ben

I think I have explained it quite well, although admittedly I tried to keep the explanation as simple as possible. "Good timing is a matter of the bat coming down at exactly the right time so that the ball both strikes the middle of the bat, and then leaves it in exactly the direction the batsman was intending." That's an entirely accurate description of correct timing, and in my humble opinion, a more useful and accurate description than "a feeling of the ball melting off the bat", but let me expand upon it for you:

Striking a cricket ball cleanly is really is just a matter of physics. Ball hits middle of bat whilst the bat is travelling at the maximum desired velocity, with bat momentum maintained through contact = well struck shot. If one of these conditions is not met, the ball will not leave with the desired velocity or in the desired direction. The three possible reasons for this are a) poor technique/ lack of strength in shot, b) misjudgment as to path of ball, or c) misjudgement as to timing of shot, or a combination of all three. My article simply discusses the two most common ways in which c) can go wrong and negatively affect the outcome of the shot.

Why do I feel qualified to write an article on physics? Well I have a PhD in the subject to start with, so that helps...

I'm afraid I am with Ben here on this one. Let me reiterate that timing is a feeling for a player. We all know when we have timed the ball. No need for a PhD in Physics for that.

Most people on here are youngsters and the type of technical and scientific jargon used will no doubt turn people off or certainly leave them for dead with boredom. The danger of coaching this way is that it becomes too much about the coach's knowledge and not about the batsman's ability to absorb information.

I said originally that the whole premise of this article was far too simplistic to explain timing of a cricket ball. Now it has descended into a spat of jargon that the average club player has literally no interest in at all. The art of coaching is clearly to resonate with the audience.

So on reflection I feel the article, if not bogus, is certainly not overly useful. We all know hitting the ball early or late equals a miss time if not done deliberately. And we all know getting caught is usually a sign of hitting in the air, or possibly off the toe of the bat or too high up it. But what made the article even less useful for not offering a solution (way to practice). This is effectively just giving a headache and not giving the Asprin. If, as you say, this was your intention, it is indeed an interesting way to coach. If indeed you were even attempting to coach? If not, it's an odd article to post on a cricket academy coaching forum.

Without being crude, you don't need to understand the biological functions of the bladder to take a pee. Most players on here are just looking for help in how to improve and are fairly young.

I made the assumption that some coaches or players that use this site might be interested in understanding the actual science behind the concepts they have been taught and pass on to their players. Personally, I find that actually understanding what timing is is the first step in being able to help a player who is struggling. It's very useful to actually know what you're talking about at a fundamental level, otherwise how do you know whether the information you are passing on is any good?

To borrow your analogy, you may not need to know how the bladder works to take a pee yourself, but it sure helps if you're trying to cure a patient with bladder problems!

I'm sorry if the terms used in my last post were a little technical for you - but there is simply no other way to explain what is going on accurately. First you said it was too simple, so I went into more detail in the discussion, and now you say my analysis too complicated. I can't win!

Take for example the terms you have used yourself, such as "hitting zones" - well where do you think the guy who came up with that got it from? It's just another way of talking about the contact window I've been talking about all along. Without an understanding of the physics as I have outlined above, that concept would never have been invented.

The point of the article was to get people thinking/talking about what timing actually is - and as such I think I've succeeded. Hopefully everyone will have learnt something from the discussion. If you don't like the article and think it's too simple/complicated/doesn't go into enough detail/whatever, why don't you write a better one for us?

"Why do I feel qualified to write an article on physics?"

Ah well, there we go! Now we know where we've been going wrong. There we were thinking this was a cricket academy site and this was an article about batting!

Sorry mate, doesn't qualify you, you're on the wrong site. My doctorate majored quantum and particle but I will still look to a qualifed and experienced 'cricket' coach for information on how to play cricket. At least I understand what Ian has written.

By the way, I thought boasting about one's qualifications was abhorrent to you. I think working with elite cricketers beats your PhD hands down.

ANT... thanks for your backing Smiling but I also wasn't attempting to be better than AB as a coach because that would be unfair comparison in coaching abilities. I was pointing out that the use of overly technical information doesn't help anyone.

When I wrote The Fast Bowler's Bible its aim was to simplify the overcomplicated approach taken by the scientific community with its language when it comes to how to do things. The biomechanists and kinetics 'experts' have been writing scientific papers for many years attempting to explain where power and speed come from yet to the layman, it was a massive turn off. Coaches too were confused and not confident of what to coach or how to coach. Since the book, the 'mysteries' have been explained in an engaging way using language that everyone can understand. The book has subsequently become a best-seller. A triumph for common sense!

With specific regard to this article on timing of a cricket ball, it has gone from being overly simplistic (which was my point) to being overtly science-based in follow-up and is starting to sound like someone has swallowed a physics dictionary.

Coaching has moved past this. In fact, I don't believe it ever was about the understanding of the science behind movement before you can coach. Coaching is about identifying and correcting faults. You simply do not have to understand the science or physics behind it to be able to coach someone. Andy Flower doesn't. Graham Gooch doesn't. Graham Thorpe doesn't. And even if they DID, what would be the point of speaking in a jargon'ised' way? To suggest that because Gooch couldn't understand basic physics he would in some way not be able to coach effectively, would clearly be ludicrous.

The value of understanding physics or human movement in coaching is simply not necessary. Coaching is about fault identifying and correction - problems and solutions.

The 'discussion AB has started', is not really about the timing of the ball for the players. It is about the methodology of coaching in my view. That methodology should be about solutions and drills to correct faults. The original article is not overly useful as I said, which is what I was commenting on.

My third book, The Batsman's Bible, is half way complete and covers everything you need to or want to know about batting. It will be out at the end of 2012. After reading this, I will include a section on timing and how to improve it.

I talk about hitting the ball too early or too late. You talk about "hitting zones". As I have explained, they both mean EXACTLY the same thing, but one is needless jargon, one is not. I'm not sure if you were aware they were exactly the same thing, but after criticising my analysis, you then basically repeated what I said in a more jargon"ised" manner. Of course, this is the exact problem with coaching jargon, as quite often the people who use the terms don't actually understand it, as has just been demonstrated!

Secondly, with respect, I think you are confusing a correctly timed shot with a correctly connected shot. It is possible to get the timing of a shot correct, but if you have misjudged the path of the ball, still not hit it correctly. If I misread the line of a halfvolley by 3 inches, I can time my shot to absolute perfection, meet the ball in the middle of my "hitting zone" but it still won't hit the middle of the bat. You need to make this distinction clear if you do write a book about it, otherwise you will cause a lot of confusion. Timing is NOT when the ball comes right out of the middle of the bat - it requires a more detailed explanation than that.

Really looking forward to the new book Ian. How many times have I heard this called for Eye-wink. More importantly, will there be workshops similar to the ABSAT concept for bowling?

By the way, I think Anthony is a little mischief-making... as well as modest. I only have physics to degree level prior to moving on to medicine, biomechanics and kinesiology [so sorry I turn you off Sticking out tongue ]. However, you cannot have studied physics in the Western World without coming across the Professor, even if only in literature! His other, life long, pleasure has been cricket and I never did know which came first with him. Laughing out loud

Nice to see you're still alive Prof! x

I think in all my years of coaching no one has ever thought I don't understand the processes behind batting and bowling, or I am confused about how and why things work.

Having been noted for bringing a scientific approach to cricket in the very first place, and jargon-busting the language so everyday players can improve, it is indeed a most interesting comment.

Anyway, I am sure AB loves all this stuff. So I wish him well should he decide to attempt to coach anyone. It may be worth getting hold of "Coaching Youth Cricket" though published by Human Kinetics, which will help with the right communication and language for cricketers.

I leave with a word of warning. Trying to prove how much you know to people doesn't endear you to them. Cricketers are simply folk and not overly interested in the science. Try to make it friendly. And above all try to be humble. Having read a few of AB's postings on the site on different subjects I note a lack of humility. This destroys relationships between coach and players faster than anything.

Well thanks for the warnings, but you can hardly blame me because you came on this article to criticise my discussion as incorrect, but it turns out that you just didn't understand it, and then complain about jargon, when you're the one using jargon, not me. Am I meant to say "yes Ian, you're right of course", when its clear you're actually mistaken? What would be the point of that exactly?

I see you have given up attempting to discuss the actual issue in hand, I can only presume that is because you have recognised that you were mistaken all along. An apology would be the appropriate response from you at this point, not more childish personal attacks.

Here's a tip: if you, as a professional coach, come onto a website and incorrectly criticise an article written for free in their spare time by an amateur, make sure you actually know what you're talking about, else you may end up looking both foolish and extremely ungracious.

I'll ask you again Ian: How about YOU donate some of your time and write a series anonymous free articles for this website in your lunch hour like I do? I will look forward to reading them!

As would be apparent to everybody else, I have only just been recommended this site and am still reading the articles. As you would know, if you were a scientist, we always take a considered view.

Although most of the articles are interesting, I really do not think this is a healthy site to belong to and certainly would not introduce my son to it, nor recommend it further.

So far, I have read some interesting comments by Ian, Brian, Liz, Robin and Glee but all have been far outweighed by your unpleasantness.

More to the point, how are we to trust a site that openly states that you are 1) a coach and 2) a 'physics' PhD, when you demonstrate zero knowledge of either. I would expect a site to make checks. I am sure all the others would be more than happy to substantiate their claims.

If you consider that alienating a whole community is your way of having 'an enjoyable discussion', you are delusional. It would appear from my discussions with others that this is not the site it once was. A shame really as it does have a great concept.

David Hinchliffe says that we must have respect but we see none from you. You have been rude to the extreme to experts such as Ian and Liz. It amazes me that they put up with you and continue to contribute.

Strange, isn't it, that whenever anybody asks you a simple question, they are being insuting and rude.

As for "You could insult people anonymously on any website on the internet", this is exactly what you are doing. Personally, I have more self respect and have no issues with my colleagues knowing who I am or what I am!

Ben, everyone is welcome to make comment on this site and welcome to contribute articles. Keep in mind this is a forum discussoin; and like all forums people from all walks of life, qualification and background participate. We're not in the business of vetting posters qualifications!

We simply aim to provide a healthy forum for the exchange of ideas and constructuve debate. While this discussion has become a little heated here and there - I hope all of you know that apart from the personal bits the actual cricket dialogue is excellent - especially when there are differences of opinion. Its a rare opportunity to hear coaches debate and where necessary qualify and expand on their views - Im sure many of our community are enjoying those parts of exchanges.

It would be a boring old world if we all agreed, wouldnt it?

Guys, can I request you please keep it to the topic and drop the unceccessary parts... thanks again for making this place the coaching hotseat!!


Absolutely David. If people just try to stick to the cricket discussion and leave the personal stuff and sarcastic remarks out of it, then we will all get along just fine and learn a lot from each other - just like we have done for the past few years. I've never been personally insulted for writing an article before, whether people have agreed with the analysis or not, and I'm optimistic it won't happen again.
Lets stick to cricket please guys!

This is probably a far better explanation than the original article and hopefully helps everyone:

The paradox of timing

We all know that timing is the key but that’s not as simple as it sounds. We use the term often and mean something simple: a shot that appears effortless but flies off the bat. Yet understanding the myriad of factors that go into it is more difficult.

This complexity comes with dealing with the paradox of batting: Timing is about the production of power yet the harder we try and hit the ball, the less timing we have.

How can we make the whole thing simpler?

A simple guide to timing the cricket ball

The first step to understanding the science of timing is to think of it as a result of other factors rather than a factor in itself. The good news is, all of these factors are in your control to some extent or another.


Geoff Boycott is right. Good technique is important when it comes to timing. In fact ‘correct’ technique is based solidly in real life physics.

Take Newton’s third law of motion. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction:

Leaning into the shot makes the ground push back generating force through your body, into the bat and finally the ball.
A high backlift allows a longer downswing which produces more force.
Rotating your shoulders (vertically for straight bat and horizontally for cross bat) with your arms extended creates a longer lever and more force

Ed Smith also talks about snapping the wrists at the point of impact. This will generate more power but takes work to avoid the technical error of trying to pivot the bat around the wrists instead of the shoulders. Just think long levers, with a snap rather than generating the power at the wrist.

However, all the technique in the world is irrelevant if you can’t use it. This is where other factors come in. The stuff Boycs doesn’t talk about very often.

Tension, relaxation and the zone

Call it confidence, concentration or relaxation, your mental state is directly related to your timing. Roy Palmer, an Alexander Technique practitioner and cricket coach has researched and written a book outlining how your tension and effort is a limiting factor.

It makes sense on a practical level. The harder you try the less you time the ball. This could be because your shoulders are too tense or you are lifting your head as you throw yourself into the shot. All movements like this are unnecessary and act as a leak to the amount of power you can impart on the ball.

Learning to relax at the crease is a simple way to improve your timing like this. It can be as simple a trick as checking where you have tensed up as the bowler is running in and to let that tension go. Being able to do this, according to Roy, puts you in ‘the zone’ where you are relaxed and playing each ball on its merits.

Sport psychologist James Hamilton also has a nifty trick to all you to relax and focus while playing.

Tricks are all well and good, but mental preparation takes practice. As long as you buy into the principle I believe it’s worth it. Have you used any techniques to improve your own batting?

Decision Making and Shot Selection

Pakistani great Inzamam was a fine example of a batsman with a lot of time. Better analysts than me have put it down to his rapid ability to detect the line and length of the ball.

This has been backed by recent research. Scientists looked at the differences between elite players and club players. The top batsmen picked up the line and length of the ball at a much earlier point. Interestingly their reaction times and eyesight were not different. However, the earlier detection gave the top players more time to decide what shot to play and time the ball better.

The researchers have speculated that a great deal of the difference is down to the 10,000 hour effect: the time it takes to become expert at something. Professionals had simply practiced and played more and got past 10,000 hours. The amateurs had not reached that level of expertise.

Based on this, the simple answer is to practice more. The closer you get to 10,000 the better you will get at picking up the clues a bowler gives as they run in to bowl.

Practice needs to be directed in the right way. I categorise useful practice in the following ways, all of which have equal contribution:

Match play - Games where the result matters in some way.
Simulated match play - Practice sessions that have been setup to simulate the pressure of game situations.
Technical work - Working with a coach either one to one or in a group situation with the purpose of improving any technical aspect of your batting.

I say useful because often I see players messing around in the nets having a bit of a bat and a gentle bowl. I don’t think this would be anywhere near as good a way to develop your game.

AB - Im the Boss (ie not David). Came over to see the pretty fireworks Smiling
I hope Ben keeps contributing.

Just to reiterate the boss - we are not a scientific journal; we think, practice, write and discuss in an open way. Ideas come and go; some stick around because they work for people.

We absolutely are an broad church. We don't need our writers to be world-famous players or coaches. We just want honest opinions.

I am far more interested in an article that creates discussion than one which is perfectly correct and everybody agrees. The latter would be somewhat dull.

So, even if you disagree with AB, find him underqualified or overqualified or misqualified, or even rude; so what?

Let's just stick to discussing cricket.


Is that not a previous article from this website, originally written by David if I remember? I have certainly read it before somewhere.


I could have just re-written that, but what's the point in re-writing articles that already exist? Instead I tried to take a different slant. I personally think it is useful to make a distinction between shots that aren't hit well specifically because the timing is wrong, and shots that aren't hit well for another reason, such as playing down the wrong line - because I think that a lot of cricketers have never thought about the difference, and that excellent article doesn't draw that distinction either. That's what I tried to do here. Criticising one article because its not an exact re-write of a previous article is missing the point entirely. That's what the search function is for.

Come on, last warning. No more point scoring please. Keep discussions to cricket, not attack or defence on the validity of articles.

My point is that David's article is truly excellent and given the discussion about timing here, it really deserved an airing for those who had not read it before, in this current context. I don't think David has a PhD in Physics yet does understand this subject well.

i wanted to make the point that in response to AB asking, "If you don't like the article and think it's too simple/complicated/doesn't go into enough detail/whatever, why don't you write a better one for us?".... that there is ALREADY a better article on it. So there was no need.

David writes some very good pieces. I admire others attempting to emulate him. I know David is humble enough not to claim he knows more than anyone else or use his experience in cricket coaching and playing to trump anyone else. I am sure he will just modestly say he is a knowledgeable observer Smiling

This site is a wonderful blend of experts in their field, world class coaches and passionate amateurs.

Excellent discussion. Hit all shots with purpose even in defence then it's not a big change to hit boundaries.

Agree John ... even a 'leave' is a shot really.. and should be played with purpose.
Its all about owning the ball!


Hi all,

As a specialist individualised batting coach, I believe the way 'timing' has been approached in this article doesn't look at it in its simplest form. What I am explaining here is with reference to front-foot driving, as it is most applicable to timing in my opinion.

Put it this way: The later that a batsman begins his stride (without being so late that he limits his footwork), the more power he will get. Why? Because of the 'summation of segmental velocities'.

A batsman who waits in a ready position until the ball is approximately 50% of the way down the wicket BEFORE stepping increases his chance of combining all of his working segments. If the front stride is sufficiently long, the weight can be transferred over the front foot and into the ball. If this happens late enough, the front knee, hips, shoulders, elbow and wrist (of the top hand) will all summate to produce a maximal force. As a coach, I believe it is absolutely critical to have a backlift where the toe of the bat reaches shoulder height as a minimum at any point before the downswing. Otherwise the shoulder rotation will not occur through the stroke.

A batsman who takes a stride as soon as the bowler releases the ball will have to SLOW DOWN his swing because otherwise, he will probably loft the ball. This is due to his segments not working in summation.

The best players are dead still when the bowler releases the ball. Tail-enders, on the other hand, tend to move as soon as possible and hence, do not remain still and can not take advantage of the summation of segmental velocities.

1) teach players to stay still for as long as practicable, with the hands 'ready to go', so that the downswing can occur with full force (i.e. BRIAN LARA, SACHIN TENDULKAR, RICKY PONTING)

2) Hit the ball at the BOTTOM of the downswing.

- Where do you place the ball when playing golf, using a 5-iron on the fairway? (Please excuse me if I'm wrong, as my golf prowess isn't top-notch).
>>> Generally, you place it half-way between both feet. WHY?
>>>>> because at the bottom of the downswing, the club is moving its fastest
>>>>>>> in cricket, the bat is moving its fastest at the BOTTOM OF THE DOWNSWING...... and hence, the steps I have outlined above shall help with this.

I hope this is of help and I am happy to discuss any of the points I have offered.

Interesting stuff, I love the biomechnical notes. What you seem to be saying is that timing is all in the completion of several movements in perfect order. Get one part wrong and it's all over.

But tell me, how do you coach that to a player in simple terms?

Is the cue "react early, move late"? How can you teach that skill or do players just have to learn it through deliberate practice?

Is maximum power really the most important thing in cricket? If it is, then the whole of batting biomechanics needs to be retaught, and made into baseball hitting style rotational kinematics.

But I don't think it is. If you can clear the boundary with a well timed, well connected shot hit at 50% maximum power, then why hit it any harder? You don't get bonus points for even bigger 6s. The key to batting is to always be in 100% control of where the ball is going.

David.Hinchcliffe & AB

David: Yes, the basic concept is that if you use all of your available segments in the correct order, you will achieve a good result with minimal effort. In terms of teaching it to even beginner cricketers, I find it to be quite simple.

All I find you have to do is place two cones (or any markers of the like) approximately 3-4m in front of the batsman, one on either side of the pitch. The point of having two cones at that length where the batsman can see them is to tell them "hey, do not move your front foot until the ball reaches the cones. And then when it does, take a FULL but comfortable stride". The key to it, however, is having the backlift high enough so that once the ball reaches the cones and acts as a trigger, the hands simply have to come down to meet the ball. If the backlift hasn't occurred in this time, the hands have to go up and then back down again in a very short space of time and hence, they will be late and the sequence of using each segment will be thrown out. Another 'symptom' of having a low or late (too late) backswing is that the front foot will not tend to go very far down the wicket and hence, weight transfer through the front foot tends to be limited. You will tend to then see a swing using purely hands and not whole body (this seems to be OK if you're as good as Virender Sehwag!).

AB: I agree with your point entirely. I'd be utterly lying if my cricket career (as an opener/number 3) was based upon power and I have always had trouble hitting the ball through the infield in front of square..... until I pieced this together after completing a Human Movement degree.
I find that the method I explained in the above paragraph ultimately leads to a move efficient stroke and hence, you do not need to swing as hard through the ball.

Another fantastic benefit of using the cones method as a reference point (until the stage where it becomes natural) is that you remain still for longer, and hence, you get a more accurate gauge on where the ball is travelling, how fast, if it swings etc. In my earlier days, I would tend to move my foot and head as soon as the bowler released the ball, and would have to alter the shot 99/100 times. I also had big issues against fast short-pitched bowling. Teaching a higher backlift also worked wonders with this.

I find youtube'ing players with great balance (Tendulkar) etc to be a handy reference. Although they tend to have a 'trigger movement' such as moving their front foot slightly at release, from that point, they tend to be still until a point where the cones would exist. David Warner's innings at the WACA vs India (13/14th Jan 2012) was a fantastic example.

There are a few other concepts relating to balance which I enjoy referring to so if you would like more info, I'd be happy to share.

Does all of this answer your questions? Hope you didn't mind reading the essay-long response!

David, not sure if you would have received a notification, so here's one anyway! have replied to your question above.

Great drill, I'll have to give that one a try.

AB, I would say there is no one most important thing in cricket. That's what makes it so great! The ideal is to have a good reaction time, perfect timing combined with huge strength, great speed and an unflappable temperament. However, you don't need the ideal to be a very good batsman indeed.

Hi Incey

Certainly in baseball we talk about the sequential firing of muscles groups, each working over their full range of motion, in order to produce maximum ball/bat speed.
This sequence always starts at the feet and ends at the hand(s).

I believe this is also relevant to pace bowling as well, as one of the fundamental aims is to generate maximum power. One method of identifying the health of a pace bowler's action is to play the bowling action back in full speed and get the computer to make a noise when a certain muscle group is fired. A little drum beat will be produced - simply by listening to the rhythm, you can then compare this to a recording of the action when it was in full health and use it to identify any otherwise imperceptible timing problems.

Batting is slightly different... although it is possible to identify an ideal sequential rhythm for power generation, more often than not batsman and batting coaches deliberately use a slightly different technical focus.

If you think of a spectrum of control vs power, where at one end you have the deliberate forward defence and at the other you have the maximum power straight drive with the bat coming through at maximum velocity right at the last minute, most shots are played somewhere in between the two. The batsman will typically get the bat down and into line slightly earlier than in the ideal power generation sequence, and bring it through slightly slower - simply to counteract the possibility for having misjudged the pace of the ball and being late on it.

Agreed, but as a coach, should we not strive to push the player to get timing as perfect as possible? Is is that pushing too hard for the unachievable?

I'm comparing it to the cue "watch the ball onto the bat". We know as coaches that it's not possible to really do this, but it's a good cue to make the batter try as they focus harder on watching the ball.

I think its kind of a risk analysis kind of thing. The harder you try to hit the ball, the more likely you are to miss it altogether. Do you go for the maximum bat speed and risk missing the ball entirely if you're slightly early or late, or do you play more of a push drive, keep the bat in the hitting zone for slightly longer, and give yourself a little bit of room for error?

Depends on the player, depends on the situation. Probably worthwhile teaching players to use both techniques.

love the discussion on here fellas, ive struggles with timing in the last couple of seasons, previously my stringest scoring area was off lovely straight drives aling the ground back past the bowler but have now been reduced to simply biding my time then 'clubbing' the ball high and long. im trying everything i can to get back to the effortless shots of a couple of years ago so will definatley be trying that cone idea this week at nets. thanks lads!

Very true with the points raised above!

My two cents worth is that if you can adopt a tactic to maximise your efficiency in timing, you should be close to getting the maximal amount of power relative to how hard you swing at each delivery.

By that, I mean if you only go for a 'punch' through mid-off/cover, hitting at 70% power.... if your process in maximising your timing is good, you should in fact get roughly 70% of your max power. If you aim to hit at 70% but your timing is wrong, you may get 50% or less. I've found that it's about increasing your efficiency in what you're doing when you recruit your muscles so that you get close to what you intend in terms of power.

In terms of trying to hit the cover off it, you're right, AB, I agree that it depends on the 1) situation of the game 2) personal ability/tactics 3) shot selection to the correct delivery.

Shot selection is another area which I've always been interested in, and I believe that the length of the ball is the fundamental variable. In coaching kids, I find that starting with underarms is a great way to go about it. Because the pace has been taken off the ball, you first teach them that the fullest balls will be the easiest to drive because they can push their weight through the ball easiest using all of their available segments (front knee, hips, arms, elbow, front shoulder, wrist). From there, you can teach them that the slightly shorter but still front-foot balls will probably go in the air if they hit through them. Hence, shot selection is being learnt. Once their technique and proprioception/spatial awareness increases, they can learn how to keep the ball down when hitting 'on the up'.

AB, I hope this gives another angle on your thoughts on a 'push drive' vs a full swing. Not sure if you're working with kids or not, but I reckon the full-blooded drive vs the 'push drive' is quite simply determined by the length of the delivery. All bastman must realise that a good length ball is just that: and it should be respected. A half-volley, however, is easily hit through with maximal power, as long as correct balance is kept. Without balance and staying still (like i mentioned in earlier posts), the batsman can easily fall at the way side and lose their sight of the ball AND their ability to effectively combine their body segments.


Yes, good insight Incey.

I think as ever we need to be careful not to confuse how hard you swing the bat (bat momentum), how accurately you judge where the ball is going to be (tracking) and whether you swing the bat at the right time (timing). All three are interrelated but subtly different, and in order to successfully understand the mechanics of batting, we need to be able to isolate them. Sometimes the word "timing" is rather sloppily used simply to describe any ball that connects with the middle of the bat, rather than specifically with issues of the bat reaching the hitting zone neither too early nor too late. This unfortunate usage tends to add to confusion.

A well struck shot requires a) an accurate judgement of the balls path through the hititng zone, b) an accurate judgement of the exact moment the ball will be in the hitting zone, and c) sufficient bat momentum to achieve our aim (eg different for a 6 than for a forward defence).

denkichukondi be

how to hit shots 100+ meter?

I play for my club u-17 level and I am top order batsman.I am repeatedly getting out bowled in recent times.Do u think it is because of my back and across movement?I need the rely early because we have a tough summer coming up.

This article was very helpful for me. Thanks, AB!

how can I hit sixes..!! im good at orthodox shots..but cant time the ball qhen I want to hit six..I always mistime it...Sad :( Sad ī

how can I hit sixes..!! im good at orthodox shots..but cant time the ball qhen I want to hit six..I always mistime it...Sad :( Sad ī