It's ECB Level Four final assessment week at Loughborough.
This is one of my favourite weeks of the year as I get to listen to a lot of fantastic coaches tell me about the great practice they are doing in their counties to support the development of young cricketers.
I normally take at least 10 ideas back to Somerset to use with the players at Millfield. 2016 is no exception to that rule!
One of the ideas that I am going to steal is one candidates model of "The Five Weapons of Spin!"
So what are they?
- Break off the playing surface
Simple stuff yes, but have you ever rated yourself out of 10 against each of the five weapon criteria?
This basic profiling process will provide insight into your strengths and also potentially identify which one of these components could do with some work.
So once you have the numbers in place, a bowler can establish why that number has been achieved. Again, this process is building self awareness and linking things that we can control to the outcome of our stock delivery.
Example using an off spin bowler
So let's assume that one of my off spinners has rated himself as a two for break off the surface, but a nine for dip.
Why is this happening?
There is every chance that the ball is travelling through the air with a good number of revolutions but the seam angle is too upright. Effectively, the ball is being delivered with pure overspin rather than a combination of overspin and side spin.
As a result the ball dips late in its ball flight and causes batters problems in judging length and controlling the ball, especially when driving off of the front foot. This is a strength, but the numbers are telling us that there could be a way of getting a better outcome which combines both break and dip.
The devil is in the detail
Now the bowler can look at their action and see what they are doing that causes this to happen.
A common cause is that the bowler is leaning over to left at point of release and the ball is being delivered from beyond perpendicular. The fingers and wrist are then applying the flick to the ball that sends it on an upright axis.
In this case, we dig down again to find out why the body is leaning over at point of release.
A common cause of the body leaning over at point of release is a too acute approach angle. There are other potential causes, but to demonstrate this technical assessment process, let's assume this is the case.
As a result of this too acute approach angle, the bowler self adjusts at the crease in order to propel the ball into the intended target area.
They are forced to lean extravagantly at point of release. This could be the cause of the ball being released beyond perpendicular.
Player to coach discussions
The five Weapons of Spin concept provides some subjective numbers which provide great stimulus for player and coach discussion.
During these conversations, the bowler reports that he feels that he isn't physically robust enough in the core/trunk region to keep themselves upright at point of release.
As a result of this disclosure, we now start to incorporate some alignment work in the approach alongside some planking and side planking exercises to develop core strength.
So the five weapons of spin approach starts of with a few numbers but can quickly end up with the player or coach identifying focussed technical areas which are attacked through concerted drilling.
Some good "5 weapons of Spin" questions?
- Which of the "5 weapons of Spin" is your strength?
- Do you know what causes that to be the case?
- Is there an "5 weapons of Spin" that comes out as low scorer?
- is this an area of your bowling that you could look to address?
- what do you need to do in order to develop this characteristic?
- What would this additional characteristic give you as a bowler?
- there are 100s of other questions that could be asked, naturally.
So, if you coach spinners, then why not try this profiling process out this week?