Here is a drill that provides huge gains in distance, power, placement and tactical awareness for all of your batters.
The inspiration comes from the golf driving range. It got me thinking about how we could apply a similar concept to the practice of batting skills.
Here is the range driving drill.
Basic drill set up
You will need:
- Bowling machine (preferably with a protective stand for the feeder)
- Lots of bowling machine balls
- 30 plastic cones to make up target zones
The 3 coned off areas are the safe zones on a cricket field for good trajectory cricket shots (over the bowlers head/over straight mid-wicket/over extra cover).
These areas are generally unguarded, therefore, if a player becomes effective at hitting these areas then he/she can hit them with a significant margin for error in their favour. As long as you clear the inner ring then even the worst hit shots into these areas are worth 2 runs.
How many times do you see well hit shots to deep mid-off and deep mid-on result in dismissals? Precise practice in missing these fielders result in maximal performance.
Full toss hitting
To start, deliver 45-50mph (Under 16's) or 60mph (16+) full tosses into half way up middle stump and ask the striker to hit as many balls into the coned circles as they can. Give no technical instruction at is point as often the player will work it out for themselves after a few goes.
Count the number of balls in the bucket and asking the batter to keep a tally of the number of balls that end up going into or over the target areas.
Divide the number of successes by the number of balls in the bucket, multiply that by 100 and you have the Success%. Make a note of the score and track the progress of the player as he/she works through the buckets of balls and through the drill progressions.
Once the player is used to this drill and has increased their Success%, then you can move on.
First, increase the pace of the full toss within reasonable and safe parameters. Then you can lower the height of the full toss; this makes the player work harder to access the coned target areas
Half volley hitting
The next progression is to set the bowling Machine to hit a half volley length and ask the player to hit the same 3 areas.
Inform the player that they do not necessarily have to stand on the crease in a conventional manner, they have license to roam. For example, deeper in the crease to use the upward bounce of the ball to get under it and launch balls.
Again, keep a Success%. The fact that the ball bounces in this drill often means that the Success% progress is slower than the previous drill, stick with it: Rome wasn't built in a day!
When this is mastered you can then build up to throwdowns or Sidearm as the natural variation in lengths (with a human throwing) simulates exactly what you are going to get in the game.
Keep a track on the Success%.
Again, the increased task difficulty often means that numerous sessions are needed to mirror the successes on the bowling machine. This is normal, so stick with it.
We worked through a couple of these progressions when I was coaching in Finland and the rate of progress was outstanding: A real confidence boost going into a tournament.