This article is part of the 'Ask the Coaches' series. To get the full list of questions and answers click here.
Imagine you are coaching a typical club side of young cricketers. Aged between 11-13 they are of varied ability.
You have noticed the 12 year old opening bowler having trouble with his accuracy in both games and nets. He bowls down the leg side regularly.
You have tried to get him in a better position in his delivery stride by telling him to look over his front shoulder but he still sprays it past leg stump?
What do you do?
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1. Special stretches
Good technique in any cricket skill starts long before a ball or bat is picked up. If you think that is strange, let me explain.
A physio contact of mine who is also a coach told me that the body is very good at trying to find ways around problems so on the surface everything looks fine. In reality our player may be struggling to get into the right position because of these 'compensations'.
No amount of technical coaching can make a difference because his nervous system is blocking him off.
The good news is that we can relay the foundations and reduce the blocking off effect with some simple stretches as part of a proper warm up.
You don't need to be a physio to give these stretches to a bowler who is going down the leg side. They will do no harm to anyone so the worst case is you will have a slightly fitter bowler with the same problem, however you may catch the muscle imbalance or weakness and make a difference without having to do any coaching at all.
Encourage the player to do these stretches every day at home and not just before matches/training sessions. 2-3 weeks should start to see a difference in a player.
These are general stretches so it may be helpful to see someone who can provide something more specific to the player if you are worried that a player is not a strong or mobile as he could be. If you are in the Essex, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire or Suffolk are please consider Liz Ward who suggest the idea to me in the first place. Liz can be contacted via email on firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Set guide lines
Seam bowling is all about straight lines and if the bowler concerned can get used to doing everything in their action between those lines on a regular basis that should go some way to a cure.
If you are working one to one with a player you can develop this feel for getting in the right position with cones or poles as guide lines as you can see in this still taken from an ECB 'Wings to Fly' video:
If you don't have access to cones or poles you can, as Darren Talbot suggested, use securely pegged down string.
3. Bowl around the wicket
You may not be able to go to such lengths with a bowler if you are in a larger group setting. Here you can adopt an even simpler solution, first suggested to me by long-time coach at Morriston CC, John Sayce: Tell your problem bowler to go around the wicket.
This makes it much harder to fall to the leg side, especially for right arm side-on bowlers and teaches them the right feel for when they return to over the wicket. The additional benefit is that is shows a bowler how to go around the wicket for tactical reasons, something many club bowlers are not confident doing.
4. Suggest something else
Do you have an even better suggestion than those above? Did you try something that didn't work?
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