Can the 'back and across' trigger move make you a better batsman? | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Can the 'back and across' trigger move make you a better batsman?

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This article was sent in to miCricketCoach by Indian reader Bijoyaditya Mukherjee. Bijoy entered the PitchVision Academy competition and was selected as the winner with this article on the back and across movement.

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We all know the adage against pace: “Get in line with the ball, and don't back away!” This is the seldom understood, 'back and across' trigger movement.

Let’s take a closer look at its intricacies; you may come to share the same respect I have for this humble friend of batsmen.

What is 'back and across'?

A trigger movement is an instinctive movement, the feet in particular, as the bowler releases the ball, so as to generate momentum and aid in the 'unweighting' process.

The late Bob Woolmer described it as; “"Moving your back foot back and across towards off stump; then transferring your weight back on to the front foot as the bowler releases the ball; then making the final movement, having judged length and playing the appropriate shot."

Why would you use it?

To better receive the ball of course! What I mean is to be in a balanced position to watch the ball and then instinctively go forward or back as per the length. All this, while maintaining access to the ball by preventing the front foot from going across and closing off the body.  

A lot of it has to do with balance.

As the body prepares to receive the ball, an instinctive hunching of the upper body causes it to lean over to the off side. This means that the body needs to push out a foot towards the offside to regain balance.

This may manifest as the front foot or the back foot going across to the off stump.

The former is the 'forward press' trigger and the latter the back and across movement. The forward press causes the batter to play across the line to straighter deliveries in an attempt to play around that front pad. Whereas going back and across allows direct access to straighter deliveries and allows for a game plan based more around playing straight.

The back and across movement also allows for the player to be prepared for 'chin music' in advance.

The trigger opens the player’s hips up and puts him in a better position to get behind the line and defend their body against short pitched bowling. Add to that bending the back knee and you are able to duck and weave instinctively. This is because bent knees mean a wider base and a lower centre of gravity. This stable base resists toppling when subjected to ducking or weaving.

Taking a step back and across also allows you to break up the act of getting a good extension to the half volleys into two steps. First a step back, then a small but efficient step forward to get the front foot beside the ball. By the time the ball is driven, the feet are wide enough apart so as to allow for a large hitting area. Just try to drive a half volley keeping your feet together, you will see what a small “hitting area” feels like.

When do you use it?
Use the back and across trigger when:
  1. You are really good on the off side but keep getting hit on the pads to balls that are straighter.
  2. You are naturally uncomfortable to short bowling
  3. You tend to get too closed off as you watch the ball and need to open up a little.
  4.  When you feel you need more balance as while watching the ball.
  5. You keep pulling the ball straight up in the air. This of course might just be poor shot selection.
  6. You want to focus on playing straighter.
  7. You feel you are a little slow in facing the quicks.
How to go back and across
Here are some pointers that helped in executing this trigger move:
  1. Lift the bat to a ready position. Do this and your centre of gravity doesn’t shift awkwardly while going back and across. You end up nicely balanced at the end of the trigger.
  2. Move the back foot back and across and transfer weight back onto the front foot .This puts your upper body in the right position to go forward or back.
  3. Transfer weight forward but don’t take a stride with your front foot or else you will again be playing around that front pad.
  4. At the end of this step, try to end up ever so slightly lower than your stance. This ensures bending of the knees.

All said and done, if you are playing well both on the offside and the onside and are dealing with the short ones, then don’t fix what isn’t broken. But if you need a little help to push your game to the next level, this trigger move might be well worth a try.


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Can you also explain the trigger movement taken taken by the likes of Ponting, a small step forward before the ball is bowled, so that you are already on the front foot.

gr8 article... very informative,very proffessional
Have u thought of writing a book?
Smiling gr8 going

Well Radomir, I have tried out the forward press trigger myself, but without much success. However people who find this trigger useful usually do the following:
1. Raise the bat into a ready position.
2. As the bowler is releasing the ball,transfer ther weight to the front foot by taking a small step forward with the balls of the front foot nearly straight down the pitch. Try to point the toes between mid off and extra cover. This opens your hips and prepares you to get behind the line of the delivery.
3. Now, watch the ball, judge the length and if it is full, use the forward momentum you just generated to move to the pitch and play forward. If it is short, push back of that front foot which already has your weight on it and play on the back foot.
Hope this helps.

Thank You very much for the compliment Sandeep! I am glad you liked the article.

Hey David

My coach is always trying to get me to use a trigger movement, kinda like this but a bit different. It's just stepping across, and keeping your weight on the backfoot. He says that keeping your weight on your backfoot means it is easier to go forward. I'm don't know whether to go with it in a game or not. What are the negatives to his trigger movement idea?


Or Bijoy, sorry I didn't see the top bit. Congratulations on winning, BTW.

Jonesy, i think the idea is that to play a shot off the front foot you actually push off from your back foot. Realistically its really up to you, if you feel comfortable with that movement, give it a bash. Just make sure your B&A movement is complete before the ball is bowled. Hope that helps - and hope im not stepping on your toes there David!

I had a B&A movement and when it went right i felt i had so much more time to play all my shots. When i got it wrong (more often than not - has taken me a while to realise i was moving as the ball was bowled!) i could barely play a shot. Its something that needs to 'feel' right when your batting, it cant be forced. So you need to practice it over and over again to get it right

Thanks Jonesy, It was a pleasure writing the article.As for keeping the weight on the back foot, I agree with Brent when he says it is up to you really. From my experience, keeping my weight on the backfoot made me slower when playing the shorter deliveries as it meant I had to transfer my weight on to the front foot and then push back. Mind you, being short, I have to play a lot of balls off my back foot. That being said, Michael Vaughan had the same trigger move your coach is talking about, so it has been tested and proved at the highest level where there is no dearth of chin music.
In the end it all boils down to what allows you to play comfortably on both sides of the wicket while securely dealing with the shorter deliveries.

Brents point on timing is critical with trigger movements. If you move your feet as the ball is bowled / released you will have no time to move again and will either feel stuck in the crease or rushed/late in your shot. Your trigger move needs to be fully completed by point of release, that way your head and eyes are still, you are balanced in your 'ready position' to receive the ball, you can properly see the ball out of the bowlers hand.

It's very easy to time the start of your trigger with ball release as it goes with the natural instinctive reaction to flinch, or harden when something is thrown towards you. However if you do this you will be moving at point of release. There is an interesting case study with freeze frames of Ramps, Vaughny, Prior and Flower's trigger movements, they all fire a fraction before back-foot impact, with trigger complete at point of release.

What trigger movement dose Michael Clarke use?

hi david,
i wanted to ask u that i also do the back and across trigger movement but with my backfoot movement i also do the frontfoot trigger movement.the problem occures that my frontfoot ahich should face the mid off region faces the cover region and as a result i'm not able to maintain my balance while playing my shots and my body tends to fall.i also wanted to ask that while doin these movements i not able to see the trajection of ball properly as i do by not doin these movements,please help..

Well my initial answer may sound glib but stop doing them. Why use a trigger if it is making you a worse batsman? Just stand still. Unless you are facing 80-90mph bowling there is not much point anyway.

but it comes naturally,i try not to do it but somehow it doesn't stop.i have also tried to get my frontfoot face midoff but can't able to do so,it still facces the cover region

does this trigger help you play the cover drive to


Hi David
I have been trying to add the back and across trigger movement to my batting as i am having trouble facing deliveries that are targeted at the ribs region. However, I am not sure at what point to actually move back and across. Should I do this while the bowler is running in or just before he releases the ball, or just after. Any help would be much appreciated.

The key to any trigger move is to be still at the point of delivery. It makes it a lot harder to hit a moving ball if your head is still moving when the bowler let's go of the ball. So my advice would be to trigger just as the bowler is entering his delivery stride. It takes a lot of practice to get right though, so don't be idle in getting it right, and don't practice against a bowling machine.

Hi David,

How do you play front foot shots with Ricky Ponting's trigger movement. Back foot shots are really effective becase i push off my front foot but do i take another step on top of my little step to play front foot. Or should i have my weight forward with my feet in the air and if it is front foot shot I take a big step forward and if it is a back foot shot i take a small step forward then backwards.


Sorry and also is it ok to switch between trigger moves? Eg. use back and across for pace and forward press for spin?

Bijoy you are 100% right.i am very very very much passionate for cricket but when I played earlier I used trigger movements like forward press but It did not worked.then what I did that when a medium pacer bowled I used to get on frontfoot immeadiately it actually worked for sometime but once when I faced a fast pacer he bowled usually short pitched deliveries and I didnt got too much time to react because I was initially on the front foot.i lost all my hope becoming a good batsman.but then recently I observed west indian dwayne smith using this trigger movement and then I played my next match I said to myself that let us first play an over like I used to play recently but I failed playing good and then in the second over I used trigger movement and then suddenly I played really very nice.all the people who are reading this comment please once use this beautiful triggr movent back and across and
You know what the best part is your timing will improve naturally and you will get enough time to face a fast bowler
The top players of cricket world like hashim amla, jack kallis, ab deverlliers, farhan behadri, ricky ponting to nam a few use trigger movements and different trigger movements work for different players If I use a forward press trigger movement against fast bowling against fast bowling I assure you guys that I will not be able to play but jack kallis, ricky ponting and many others play very good with the use of forward press.
I also have a question to bijoy that should we use back and across trigerr momnt agisnt spin bowling.i have analysed that back and across trigger movement is not useful against spin bowling