Fixing Fast Bowlers: More Back Foot Contact Drills | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Fixing Fast Bowlers: More Back Foot Contact Drills

The first in this series used a piece of string as a guide for foot placement in the approach. This is one of the major causes of the back foot sweeping under the body and causing misalignment at the crease.

However, if the feet are landing nicely in the approach and you still note that BFC (Back Foot Contact) is misaligned then the following drills, placed on top of the string based run up drill, will close the deal.


1. Mirroring

It is vital that the bowler has a comprehension of what she looks like when her BFC is misaligned and the knock on effect taken into her delivery stride. In order to do this, you can use a mirroring approach.

This can either be demonstrated by simulating the bowling action towards a mirror or get the to bowl over the top of a camera on a low tripod placed a 2 metres beyond the crease.

I have started what I call the "stuntman" camera position by filming from a prone position on the floor with my iPad (again, 2 metres in front of the bowling crease). This gives a great angle.

If you don’t feel confident that the bowler will be able to bowl the ball over the top of you then use a tennis ball instead of cricket ball.

This image will give the bowler awareness of their present position and she will be working her own solutions to the problem even before direct intervention.

2. Intervention pole work

Intervention poles are brilliant. They train the bowler towards their back foot and front foot target at the crease by blocking the movement that you don’t want to see (in this case, the sweeping of the back foot under the line of the body).

The great thing about intervention poles is that you can start them in an unobtrusive position to build up bowler confidence of the drill intention and then bring them in gradually to up the challenge at an appropriate time.

Once the drill has been practised for a while then you can take the poles away to see how the new technique stands up in an open environment. If it stands up then crack on, if not then it's perfectly OK to revert back to the drill until the bowler feels confident to test the skill under open conditions once more.

Here is an example of some intervention pole based work from Simon Francis (a brilliant ECB Level IV Coach) who works out of Warwick School in England:

Intervention poles can be used for a number of bowling drills (both spin and pace) are relatively inexpensive and highly portable (Indoor and outdoor use).

If you build athlete awareness by showing the Stuntman video angle and support the bowler's learning through use of the intervention poles- which train the intention to stay aligned from take off to follow through - then a misaligned BFC can soon become a distant memory.

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Better to walk through/jog through for complete overwrite of a sweeping foot and progressively build. The danger of the "ski poles" is they are a visual stimulus and not a proprioception/kinaesthetic one a bowler needs to tap into to permanent change.

Don't rely on cones and poles to do the work of true 'understanding' of how the body actually makes changes. Often, nets are littered with cones and poles in the misguided view (IMO) that they are the cure all. They are not. They are restrictive. And restricting movement in this way is not how you retrain it.

Better to teach how to do it correctly than discourage how not to do it.

Coaches should learn how to make the changes with corrective drills and ditch the gimmicks. Sorry...

That's an interesting discussion to have Ian: The effectiveness of external tools to make an internal kinaesthetic change. I have no idea to the answer, but I do know that in my experience some people respond better to others, so it may be about understanding your player individually.

I agree, people clearly prefer to learn in different ways, and at times employing a method of intervention such as cones or poles can obviously restrict a players movement in a positive way. However you are clearly left with the issue if weening a player away from this restrictive support. Sometimes some short term restriction that cones / poles offer can give a player a better understanding of what they're working towards and what they're striving to achieve once the poles have been removed. Some people will need to feel this restriction to fully appreciate how they should approach the crease.

As always the end goal is similar but in trying to help them get there we must be flexible enough to adapt to the player we're working with.

Nicely PC David Smiling

Sam.. I am talking about having success fastest and permanently by 'ignoring' the issue and building on a new set of parameters, rather than 'punishing' the old one by restricting it.

It's a bit like saying I will stop you from doing something by punching you in the face every time you do it. You will quickly learn not to do it.... so that method works

In my work I have discovered that such methods are NOT necessary. The focus should change from NOT doing something to one of doing something new. Yes you can 'force' a player by punishment (do press ups/run round the field), restriction (cones, poles), visual (string, chalk lines, video)... and I fully understand (more than most coaches) how people learn in different ways. But players progress faster and deeper when they learn the RIGHT process with statics, walk throughs, jog throughs and finally run throughs in a collective sequencing.

In any event it doesn't matter because the ECB doesn't teach coaches to coach this way, but instead go down the poles, cones and 'intervention areas' route, anyway.

It's just one of a whole plethora of coaching methodologies that could be far, far better yet go unchallenged.

All coaches need as many methods in the toolbox as possible.