This article is part of a series designed to show you how to adapt cricket drills for your needs. In this part we look at ways of increasing the speed of learning new skills. To see the full list of articles in this series click here.
You don’t have to be a kid to learn a skill but frankly, mostly it is kids.
But whether you are 5 or 45, the trick to learning a skill from scratch is to find out how it feels to put the movement together then practice it until that feeling becomes natural.
Clever people like to call it kinaesthetic awareness.
The problem is that cricket movements are complicated. Think about the basic bowling action. It requires movement at every joint. And for the action to generate the most power, it also requires the movements to be very carefully timed together.
That’s why it’s important to have good general ‘physical literacy’ – because it’s easier to learn a new movement if you already know how your body moves.
But the best way to make the learning process easier is to make the movement easier too, and incorporate that into your drills. There are several ways to do this:
- Reduce the pressure. Skills are much harder to learn under pressure so make the environment as easy as possible. For example if you take away the ball and the batsman when teaching the bowling action. Let the player get the right feel before they start worrying about outcomes like bowling a good length or getting wacked.
- Increase the stability. The more stable the position the easier to learn the movement. For example, bowling from a standing position, or playing a front foot drive with your feet already set in the right position (rather than stepping from the stance).
- Slow things down. There is evidence that the slower you do a movement, the faster it enters the muscle memory. There is a tennis coach who teaches his charges to swing very slowly first to ensure the mechanics are perfect before increasing the speed. You can do the same with bowling, any batting shot and basic fielding skills.
Of course, any skill you have broken down needs to be built back up eventually. But the trick is to master the skill at a simpler level before adding complexity.
Don’t create robots
I’ll admit this ‘reverse chaining’ approach is a highly systematic and formalised way of developing a skill. And it’s this type of coaching that often gets the blame for creating robotic cricketers with no individual flair.
So why would you do it?
For most youngsters getting once a week coaching it’s not an issue. They will be playing formal games, having informal knockabouts with a tennis ball in the park and playing other sports. Simplified coaching will be just one way they are learning how to move.
And even if the only way a player learned was formal coaching, I would still be dubious as to how robotic it would make them. You can only have flair if you are world class at the basics.
In the next part we move on to look at how to groove skills that players already have. Click here to get the free newsletter and stay right up to date.