I had a great pleasure of working alongside England Lead batting coach, Graham Thorpe last week. Graham presented a batting masterclass which covered his approaches to developing quality players of pace and spin.
Thorpey's philosophy to coaching any batter, irrespective of age, was to 'coach back from the challenges of International game'. The first International game challenge that he identified was the fast, short pitched delivery.
Thorpe then showed a number of drills that could be layered on top of each other to build the batters skills and, ultimately, confidence to deal with the short ball.
One of the most fun drills was using a Katchet ramp.
The ramp helped to bring the ball up into the higher regions of the body.
A coach can feed the ball into the Ramp either by throwing, hitting a tennis ball onto the ramp or as in our case, using a fielding machine.
This really is a drill for all as we have a number of variables that can be adjusted to make the drill appropriate to any level of player.
We can use tennis balls, incrediballs, 4oz softer bowling machine balls, normal bowling machine balls or cricket balls to load the practice appropriately.
We can vary the height that the delivery is released from to apply the appropriate level of challenge.
We can change the distance between the ramp and the batter to increase or decrease time decision making and reaction time.
We can angle the board to bring in different angles of delivery and to get balls into a hook/pull, cut, defend or evade space.
We can change the speed of the delivery.
This is one drill that can be useful to both batting novice and Test Legend.
There are not many drills that do that.
I would always encourage the batter to have the appropriate protective equipment and helmet. The ball is going to be coming into the height of the face every now and again so it's good to practice specifically and safely. This can be seen in the accompanying video.
The video shows us using a fielding machine onto a Katchet ramp using the 4oz (114g) bowling machine ball.
The second batter in the video is a County Academy/Regional level batter who is looking to practice his weight transfer back onto his back foot.
This player has traditionally hit his pull off the front foot and there will be times where that will still be appropriate. However, he is also wanting to develop the option of transferring back so he has a positive 'batting tool' to put a 85+ mph bowler under pressure as well.
This is one drill that we can use to develop the appropriate movement patterns, decision making processes and to reduce reaction time required against faster bowlers.
The next aim for this batter is to be able to make appropriate decisions that allow him to dominate both sides of the wicket. This is one of his development areas over the coming weeks.
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