Forget getting told how to play a drive, here's how to learn it.
At PitchVision, we get asked all the time about batting technique. People like you, hungry for knowledge, search online for the perfect explanation of the perfect technique. You want to know how to do it so you can be consistent in our run scoring.
But are you?
I'm willing to bet you're not.
I know I wasn't when I played, despite hunting for detailed technical answers my whole career. I nicked off drives. I played perfect shots and missed the ball. I bet you have done too.
The evidence of your own experience suggests that getting a tip on the right footwork (or whatever) is not the way you develop your cricket.
And the research agrees.
What has been found - through both formal research and the experiences of high-performing coaches around the world - is this:
You learn how to play straight through trying to play straight
Think about why you are reading this article. You probably want advice or tips on how to play the drive. You want to know where the feet go, what the head does, how to swing the bat straight and avoid the mistakes of bad driving (even if you don't most readers will, trust me).
Knowing all this, and a hundred more points in the perfect shot won't make a jot of difference.
You have to do it.
And to do it, you need to set up some cones and try to hit the ball through them.
Let the drill be the coach
In coaching theory, this is called "constraints-based coaching". It's insanely effective in both the lab and the nets. Constraints are how Don Bradman taught himself to bat. And he was all right.
A constraint is just a way of working on a specific skill by adapting a game of cricket.
So for example, if you want to improve your drive technique, you can set up a game where your mate bowls to you while you try and hit the ball between two cones set up at mid on and mid off with a full swing of the bat.
Yeah. That's it.
Too simple surely?
As you try, you learn what works and what doesn't work. You start to develop a way of driving.
There will be failure. That's OK.
There will be success.
And you have not had a technical tip the whole time. The drill has allowed you to coach yourself.
Video is a massive help with this, as you can see what you did afterwards, rather than trying to adjust your body during the session. Combining PitchVision line and length data is also a huge benefit as you can filter how you deal with different types of delivery.
What about correcting batting technical errors?
This idea breaks the old trick of "error identification and correction": Looking at the player, pointing out flaws compared to a perfect model and trying to stop these flaws with drills.
There is nothing wrong with a technical perfect model to work from. It's just that no one ever achieves perfection, so chasing perfect technique is the wrong place to start to develop. Instead, research has shown technical specifics is the last thing to work on. We develop much better by focusing on the outcome. In the case of playing a drive, this means hitting the ball straight more often than missing it! Again, Bradman never had his technique "corrected" and he scored a couple of runs.
During your exploration, you might try some of the things that you heard work, but there is not much that works for everybody all the time so you may well abandon the idea.
Experimentation is crucial. And you can't experiment if you are doing fixed drills to try and correct a flaw.
So forget technical flaws, forget repetitive drilling, forget relying on an expert coach to give you the answers and keep technical perfection out of your mind.
Instead, think about why you want to play the shot, set up a game to challenge you to learn how to do it consistently then work out the answer for yourself. After all, your coach can't play the shot for you and they can't help you if you need to adapt on the fly. It's all up to you.
Train that way too.