Is Tradition Holding Your Wicketkeepers Back? | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Is Tradition Holding Your Wicketkeepers Back?

When I first started to take wicketkeeping seriously, I started to study and copy all the greats of the game. The likes of Alan Knott, Bob Taylor, Jeff Dujon, Rod Marsh and more contemporary at the time, Jack Russell.


I used to get into a classic full crouch position ahead of ball release, often spending what seemed like ages in this position.

I never questioned if it was the best thing for me or not.

I just did it because everyone else who was any good seemed to adopt a full crouch position as their stance. (You know the one, it's where you bend your knees so much your thighs touch your calves)

Coaches told me that I needed to be "low and come up with the bounce of the ball". This deep squat would help me to do this.

I got brave

Towards the end of my career I started to experiment with different starting postures, both back from the stumps and standing up.

I found that by walking in a little I would then get into a position where I briefly touched my fingers on the floor.

This felt as if I was in perpetual motion rather than being held in a set stance awaiting the bounce of the ball. I felt as if I could move in any direction and dive (even when up to the stumps) to cover every line of ball.

It was great fun.

Occasionally, I got my timings wrong and ended up not quite ready when the ball reached the 'nick zone' but the more I did it, the less this happened. Life was good.

So, I ended up doing the opposite of how I started.

I had asked some logical questions - mostly 'why do we do it like that' - and then I was brave enough to do my own thing.


I now know why.

Different stances

I have a plyometric (bouncy) body organisation, the feeling of being stuck in one spot waiting for the ball causes me discomfort is away from my preference for motion.

We also have biomechanical research that suggests the deep squat is a position that many adopt through tradition and history rather than being a performance enhancing technique for wicket keepers.

The paper suggests that if a keeper is to use a deep squat then it should be as a position of rest rather than a powerful posture position.

If it is to be used then it should be before adopting the less energy-sapping and joint-stressing more dynamic 'semi-crouch' posture. In this position you keep your heels down, bend the knees less and keep your hands off the ground. A variation is to touch your fingers to the floor (touch and go).

Try different positions

My rest position was an upright stance rather than deep squat. Matt Prior of England adopted the full crouch rest position.

Both can work for different individuals. So make sure your keepers give both a go and find out which is a better fit.

One key point is the full squat should only be used for a maximum of two seconds before fatigue and negative joint stress in the knee is exhibited.

If your keeper goes with a semi-crouch, get them to have a go at both hands off the ground and 'touch and move'. See which one gives the greater sense of preference.

Make sure you are feeding straight on and wider balls to also weigh up the outcome perspective before making a decision.

Video the players to get another angle.

Keeping conclusions

Convention is good if there is irrefutable research which tells you there is only one way. The more I coach, the more I realise that there is often more than one way to do most things in cricket.

Give the different rest positions and postures a trial. Find out which one is for you and kick start your keepers

Let me know how you go.

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