It’s really cold outside so we are confined to the cricket bubble for the winter. We have reached the stage of the batting programme where we are developing our back foot options vs pace.
I’m a big fan of developing finer elements of technique by using a variety of implicit coaching methods like "constraints based" practice
I'm getting better (through practice) at using these approaches to coaching rather than relying on bleating technical intervention points down the net from behind a bowling machine or after letting go of a throw down.
Over the next couple of weeks I will be showing you how to adopt these methods into your coaching or playing programme. They work for all batting disciplines and not just around back foot play.
The ultimate aim in this back foot phase of the batting programme is to facilitate the development of more robust and more adaptable back foot players against pace.
Constraints based practice
Max and I have only worked together for a couple of months. He is a top lad and has a strong front foot game which is capable of dominating at County age group level. His back foot game was limited to hitting long hops through mid wicket so we started to explore his off side back foot game on the bowling machine linked to the PV/ONE system.
After a few successful back foot drives to lower bouncing balls, Max attempted to play the same shot to higher bouncing back foot balls delivered just outside off stump.
3 balls, 3 nicks to slip or the keeper!
I then said “Max, let’s play a constraints game. The constraints are that you can only cut the ball, defend the ball or leave the ball. That’s the game, are you happy with that?”
Max agreed and all of a sudden started to make clinical decisions based on line around the constraints.
Then, after 15 balls, Max began to cut balls from relatively close to his body in exactly the same way as we see England Test Captain, Joe Root do on the world stage.
His balance was impeccable, his contacts on the cut shot were crisp and consistent. When the ball needed to be defended he took the right option and he only left balls if they swung late from middle and off to 4th stump.
After each cut shot Max would look at the PV/ONE monitor and watch the replay. His face would light up as he he developed this new skill (the cut shot). It was lovely to see him having so much fun whilst learning. Max ended up playing the cut shot competently from a variety of different widths.
To end the session we had 6 open deliveries. No constraints at all.
I could mix my lengths and lines. Max could play any shot he desired.
The next result of the 6 open deliveries:
- 1 x Successful defensive shots
- 2 x Well executed leaves
- 1 x Back foot drive to a lower bouncing ball
- 2 x Cut. One from close to the body (Joe Root) and the other to a genuinely wide ball.
We are going to continue the process of applying constraints to build different batting skills and then finish with “open” practice within Max’s next few batting sessions.
Can you use constraints based games in your practice to fast track your batting skills?