Defensive Pop Up Throwing Technique and Drills | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Defensive Pop Up Throwing Technique and Drills

Following on from last week's attacking pop up drill we move onto the defensive side version. Effectively, this kind of throw is made following the completion of a dive towards your non-throwing side.


Just like the Attacking Pop Up, we start the player with the most basic version of the drill. They start in the prone position simulating the position adopted at the end of a conventional dive.

We perform the same basic movement of pulling the arms into the body and then pressing your hands into the floor in a push up style yet this time, unlike the Attacking Pop Up, we have to shift the body round further in order to align ourselves to the intended target (the stumps).

This requires a significant amount of downforce into the floor, so get working on those press-ups!

Michael’s demo

See 14 year old Michael running through the drill. You can hear how hard Michael is working to generate the downforce with his arms that levitates his torso and knees from the crashmat.

Michael then uses his back knee (his right) as a pivot which then allows his front leg and foot to line up to the left hand side of his intended target. This “tramline” alignment creates a solid base from which Michael is able to throw with both balance and Power.

Players who don’t produce the required level of downforce with their initial push into the ground will often end up having a “tightrope” and narrow base which impacts on their balance as they head up to point of release, their accuracy and their power production.

Michael’s base is so good that it allows his torso to tilt forward as he throws, this aids the production of Power as the range of motion of his arm is increased by the torso tilt. I also really like the way that Michael “reaches” for the target with his throwing hand. This helps the accuracy of the throw final milliseconds of contact prior to Ball release and also dissipates the Throwing forces in a long follow through.

Different point of contact options

Michael is demonstrating the 3-Point contact in his base position. Back foot, back knee and front foot. I used to think that this was the only way of completing a Defensive Pop Up Throw but over time I have also see other ways of doing it. These are individual preferences but also can also be influenced by the speed and angle of the dive which is a result of the speed and angle that the fielder receives the ball.

Double Point of Contact:

Lots of players, particularly when throwing from closer distances prefer to Pop Up into a chest on, double knee position rather than the 3-Point contact demonstrated by Michael.

The release time in this throw can be less than the 3-Point version, yet on the speed gun analysis that we have done to date indicates that the Double Knee approach does not produce such high velocity readings.

If you have a player who prefers a Double Point of Contact then ensure that they pull their front arm into their body to maximise their transfer of momentum into their throwing arm. This will help both velocity but also act as a stabiliser. If the front arm pulls away to the side then it will have a negative impact upon the balance of the torso as you head into the release point.

Again, a good reach towards the target with the throwing arm and hand will help from an accuracy and injury prevention perspective.

The Rolling Defensive Pop Up

Tom shows us how to cope with a ball that is fast moving and has bounced up off the ground as it enters into the hands. This is often coming across the fielder on an acute angle. Rather than being a slave to the previous two methods, Tom instinctively decides to use his momentum rather than fight it, rolling across his back, swivelling on his gluteals (bum in layman’s terms) before getting a visual fix on his target and knocking down the target.

With all Pop Up throws, the visual fix, however brief, gives the thrower a significantly increased chance of success. As the great Duncan Fletcher used to say “there is a slight pause and a look before the throw”. Notice, when the footage is slowed, how Tim does exactly this.

In drill progression terms have a go at these to see if you can have more than one option of Defensive Pop Up tool to fit any diving throwing circumstance:

  1. Prone drill - Push Up - 3-Point Contact Defensive Pop Up
  2. Prone drill - Push Up - 3-Point Contact (Double Knees) Defensive Pop Up
  3. Underarm Feed - Rolling Defensive Pop Up
  4. Underarm Feed - 3-Point Defensive Pop Up
  5. Underarm Feed - 2-Point Defensive Pop Up
  6. Underarm Feed - Choose you most preferred Pop Up “Tool”

As the players competency increases, you can do the following things to increase challenge and stretch their skills:

  1. Increase speed of Feed (throw, off racquet, off bat, fielding machine)
  2. Increase angle of feed across the body
  3. Increase distance of inner ring throw up to 30m max
  4. Decrease the size of the target (start with bin sized, then stumps, then bowling target, heap of comes, then 1 stump, then 1/2 stump)

With a decent amount of practice, a player will then know their personal preference for a defensive side pop up but crucially, will be able to adapt their technique to be effective in any given situation.

All in all, this is a great drill with fantastic progressions which could get you a few cheeky run outs! Why not give it a go.

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