When you first walk out to bat you can find yourself “stuck” on the crease: you don’t get to the pitch of the ball and you end up playing a loose shot.
As you walk back to the pavilion you bemoan your lack of footwork.
Except that isn’t the problem.
Most footwork issues are nothing to do with your feet at all, yet many coaches continue with the mantra of telling players to move their feet.
All that does is lead to confusion and frustration.
Why footwork isn’t important
Good footwork is part of good batting. No batsman has succeeded without having the ability to get to the ball by moving forward or back in a positive way.
But batting is a whole body movement and if you start from the feet and work up you are far more likely to get it wrong.
Think about the batsman who lunges at the ball, determined to get his footwork right. He ends up with his balance too far back and playing shots in the air.
The same guy can also find he puts his front foot down the wrong line in his efforts to get his feet moving. LBW is never far away as he plants and plays round his pad.
The secret of good footwork
To find the secret you need to go to the other end of your body.
Good footwork starts with your head.
Moving your head towards the ball on the drive means your feet will automatically follow. If they didn’t you would fall over.
This automatically stops you over-reaching with your leg and you keep your head in front of, and over, your front foot.
The result is balance, alignment and, of course, excellent looking footwork.
You can even use it as a cue when you are batting in the middle. Say to yourself “head to the ball” and you will avoid the errors.
How to practice to improve footwork
Once you know footwork is not so much about the feet you can forget all the clever ladder agility drills and skipping work. Yes, that stuff has a place, but not in this quest.
No, all you need is a bat, some tennis balls and a willing helper or coach to drop them.
Using the “set” position with drop feeds and progressing the drills as you develop your footwork will improve.
This is because you are teaching yourself again from scratch the muscle memory to get your head (then shoulder, then feet) into the right position.
You can discover the drills, and their progressions on Gary Palmer’s online batting video coaching course. Click here to view How to Play the Perfect On, Off and Straight Drive.