3 Batting Technique Myths You Can Stop Worrying About | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

3 Batting Technique Myths You Can Stop Worrying About

Everyone's a cricket coach.

Or so it seems these days. Advice comes from every angle; coaches, family members, the internet and even passers-by calling out. That would be great if it all matched up, but most of the time it is in direct conflict with another piece of advice.

Then there are the myths and clichés on top. The advice that sounds good, and makes the advisor sound wise and clever. In fact, it's based in no more evidence than it was overheard on TV. So it must be true for everyone, right?

It's enough to make you go back to bed instead of picking up the bat and dealing with the swirl of advice in your head.

So, here is some clarity for you: Three simple bits of advice we have all heard (or perhaps even given) that don't make as much sense as they seem. Once you know that these things are not always true, you can get on with getting back to the simplicity of hitting the ball with a clear mind and a confident outlook.

 You are welcome.

1. "Watch the ball on the bat"

Studies have show that this is not how the eyes work when a ball is moving towards you.

Instead, we look at the bowler as he is releasing the ball and make a prediction and move our eyes to where the ball is going to be. The better the batsman, the faster this happens. You might argue that's all good in theory, but you can't advise a player to do that: It's a naturally occurring reaction we do subconsciously. So you have to advise the player to "watch the ball" and let nature do the rest.

That would be right, except some people don't watch the ball very hard. When they do, they tense up and lose their natural rhythm. For these people, watching the ball intensely is damaging advice. Lucky for you, it's easy to work out your visual preference.

2. "Get to the pitch of the ball"

Again on the surface, this seems solid advice. If you can get your front foot to the ball, it's a half volley and it's a four.

How people read this advice is to take a longer stride forward. After all, that's good footwork. For many people this works well as they naturally play better leading with the foot. For others, who are more inclined to lead with the head, a big stride is a poor position.

So, it's more important to get to the line of the ball than the length when you play forward. This works for botht those who lead with head and those who lead with feet. Then, if you naturally have a big stride you can let it happen. If you naturally have a smaller stride you will hit more "on the up" more often, but will be just as effective.

If you want to know which method is your way, take a look at your chin when you drive.

3. "Lift your bat high"

When I coach beginners, I often see the habit of barely lifting the bat up at all in the backswing. The 8 year old instead tries to get power by "poking" at the ball with the bat. The obvious advice is to tell the player to lift the bat up higher to get a swing going and get more power.

My theory is that this has translated into older and experienced players getting told that lifting the bat high will generate more power like, say, a golf swing. What it is really about is rhythm and timing.

Some people, including Kevin Pietersen, can generate a lot of power from a low backlift (about stump height). Others, notably Brian Lara, got timing from a big backswing. So it's more important to do what comes naturally.

Experiment with what feels better overall. If your backlift is low but you can "muscle" the ball then do it that way. If you prefer to caress the ball you might feel better with more firepower coming from a longer downswing.

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This is a very timely article, David. I worked with a batsman at the weekend who was getting out caught behind, or slicing the ball into cover's hands - diagnosed as a problem getting into a good position to play the ball on the off side.

After hearing TV commentators criticising an international player for moving too much, my batsman was almost frozen on the crease.

My myth-to-be-busted: stand still at the crease until the ball is bowled/the bowler gets into his delivery stride. Especially when this is interpreted as "stand perfectly still".

We started working on footwork, and finding his balanced "ready position"; I suspect that this will ultimately lead into a pre-delivery trigger movement but still keeping head and eyes as still and level as possible. Definitely not standing still, though.

Re myths - i get the one (no 1 myth)where bat predicts where ball will be and moves to play it, but if he predicts it will be just outside off stump and batting on leg he goes on front foot to intercept it and hits it between cover and extra, its unlikely he ever got in line with the ball as he moved from let to off to intercept ball. How do you tally the get in line advise which is a long time coaching manual tip with my mythical cover drive above (no 2 myth - get to pitch of ball) Can see that playing off back foot allows you get in line in most cases. I often use expression get as close to bounce of ball or else as far from bounce of ball as possible.

I see no reason to assume that a cover drive would not be played with the head perfectly in line and over the top of the ball. That's how the pro's play it.

sir i have problem in my bating my bat is coming open.now i want to know how can i improve this and i want to know that where from bat come from 3man or 2slip

Thanks for the article, in particular No 3: "Lift your bat high"

I am a Biokineticist and cricket expert based at the University of Cape Town and currently doing my PhD on cricket batting with my supervisor, Prof Timothy Noakes.

We are evaluating the evolution of batting techniques among cricket players and our hypothesis is that players need to be coached on an individual basis and not merely by the coaching manual where there is much of a generic approach of coaching. In addition, we are exploring the Rotary Style of batting as adopted by Sir Donal Bradman and how it was effective for him in disseminating adequate timing of the ball, playing with power and maneuvering/utilizing the crease effectively.

The sentiments from the research so far is fairly similar to yours in that each player should play naturally with what they are comfortable with (high or low backlift). However, we would argue with the fact that the backlift should not go straight back towards the wicket-keeper or over the stumps, but should rather have: 1. The face of the bat face point or gully, 2. The point of the bat face atleast second slip and towards gully, and 3. The pick up of the bat should be more rotary instead of straight over the stumps. This would ensure power when hitting the ball and the bastman would have more time getting behind the ball, especially on the back foot.

It is imperative that coaching youth cricketers is individualised and specific to the natural way or 'trademark' that the young cricketer each employ. If you notice kids playing calypso cricket or street cricket, you would notice that most of them (if not all): 1. Display the above three attributes. and 2. Hit the ball with power with a semi-to-full rotary batting style.

We have come a long way in cricket coaching, from CB Fry's book in 1912 - 1920, MCC Coaching Manual in 1954 and the revised edition in 1994 and now with the latest myths and updates. I think above all, it is important for all coaches to allow players to play the way they feel comfortable and natural and correct their technique only if they are doing more harm than good.

For any further interesting or enlightening discussions on cricket batting, feel free to drop me a mail on: habib.noorbhai@yahoo.com / follow me on twitter: @HN434 / see my website: www.habibnoorbhai.com

Best wishes

Habib - good to see that someone is taking a serious look at Don Bradman's technique.

Previously, David has spoken against the unscientific n=1 ("just because it worked for Sir Donald, that's no reason to think it would work for anyone else"), but I would be fascinated to see your findings on the success (or otherwise) of players using the "rotary" method.

Are you also taking a look at Greg Chappell's "unweighting for batting" principles?

One point in your post that I must challenge, however.

You wrote: "If you notice kids playing calypso cricket or street cricket...most of them (if not all)...[h]it the ball with power with a semi-to-full rotary batting style."

Most of them try, perhaps. What proportion actually succeed in hitting consistently with power? Not all of them, nor even most.

There is very little point saying that technique X is good without explaining how and why it is good.
Most batting technique there is a perfectly logical explanation as to why certain things worth better than others, but saying

"The pick up of the bat should be more rotary instead of straight over the stumps. This would ensure power when hitting the ball "

tells me absolutely nothing useful whatsoever. HOW does it ensure power? You might as well tell me to kiss my lucky rabbit foot.

Dear Andrew,

Thank you very much for the comment.

I am warmed to hear that these have been employed by the ECB and certainly agree with your work. Well done!

I think a player such as Sir Donald Bradman deserves the credit to be explored scientifically and see how it has benefited him (and not necessarily to ne thrown upon others).

Firstly, I have read and looked at a century of sources regarding cricket batting (46 cricket batting books (including Greg Chappell as you mention, Bob Woolmer, Geoffrey Boycott, Anthony Shillinglaw and many others), 38 articles and 16 DVDs). There are often similarities and differences in what each of these prescribe. I think we are in an era where we are yet to emphasise the importance of individualism, flare and effectiveness.

So in my research currently, we have observed 60 of the greatest batsmen of all time in the last 120 years (1895 - 2014) and had selected these ‘successful test batsmen’ based on a defining criteria entailing averages, more than 5000 runs scored in a career and bowlers faced during their era. Forty different batsmen were also selected for ODI (1975 - 2015) and strike rate was included in the criteria. We are yet to include T20 batsmen.

What we found with both groups is that more than 75% of the batsmen employed the lateral batting technique (3 attributes mentioned earlier and/or rotary batting style) during their careers. Less than 30% of these batsmen employed the modern batting technique (as deployed by CB Fry and the MCC of the straight bat backlift over the stumps). These were analysed utilizing biomechanics software and it took heaps of time and effort to source the videos of these players, especially those prior to 1954 Smiling

The second analysis we did was on current adolescent cricketers (n = 50) and more than 80% of these batsmen had employed the modern batting technique, simply because their coach taught them to. 45% of these batsmen were comfortable to play the ‘lateral’ way initially but mentioned that they were corrected by their coaches in the latter stages of their development.

With regards to Calypso cricket / street cricket, you would find that there is a probability of them scoring more runs consistently than those boys playing the traditional coaching way. Having had discussions with professional coaches and whilst working with County and State teams, it is adamant that the Carribbean and some sub-continent teams coach their players to play with flare and comfort in the early stages up to U/17 level and later nurture this talent in modifying it to be effective depending on the formats of the game. On the other hand, commonwealth nations such as Australia, New Zealand and England, in addition to South Africa, at times put more emphasis on being technically sound.

A question we are about to ask in the research: how many balls did a batsman leave in a test match before 1980 as opposed to now? We hypothesize that batsman leaving the ball more often had put more emphasis on safety / passiveness in an attempt to prevent knicking off the ball. And therefore, the lateral batting technique would avoid this margin for error of being knicked off to the wicket-keeper or in the slip-quadrant.

We are yet to evaluate and correlate the elements of power, timing and effectiveness with the rotary style and lateral batting technique and unfortunately have no answer for you on this yet. What I can tell you is that if you look closely at the kinematics and biomechanics of baseball, golf and the forehand stroke in tennis, all of these would show a lateral/rotary technique of hitting the ball. I can go into hours of discussing this philosophy and physics behind these batting styles in these sports and would welcome a skype call or meeting. I will also be glad to share our updated findings as we go along.

I hope these provide some clarity in certain aspects.

Remember, we are potential enemies in debate, but compatriots in the love of the beautiful game Smiling
Debate is healthy, dissemination without science is dangerous.

Best wishes,

Hi just like to leave my comments as a coach
I don,t worry where the bat is lifted to, but should meet the ball with the full face and not angled, also I coach the back lift should happen when the make their first step, this puts the body into to good position to have the bat swinging down once stable base established. It's easier to coach the kids this, this would be different with adults and you have to individually coach