Shiv Chanderpaul averages in the high 40's in Test cricket yet if I saw a kid I was coaching with a front on stance like that I would be jumping to correct such a glaring error.
The short answer is that everyone is different. That doesn't explain it enough for me though. Surely simple physics dictates a biomechanically perfect setup and backswing that everyone should be doing. So why is there variation?
I'm pretty sure you are going to have your own opinions on this (and feel free to leave them in the comments section). My view depends on what hat I'm wearing.
In a group coaching environment I would encourage people learning the game to take the well researched stance. As a coach of older players individually I would take more time to observe the stance and backswing to see if it works for that player or not.
Bradman, for example, missed the perfect setup and backswing model by some margin and he wasn't bad.
The perfect batting stance for beginners
According to research by the ECB the perfect stance and backswing looks like this:
(images from the ECB)
This works well as it is simple to teach to groups of children who are just starting out. It encourages the head to be still and to play with a straight bat. Something we like as coaches!
The key points about this method are:
- Stand sideways on
- Feet comfortably apart
- Weight on the balls of the feet
- Head still, eyes level, facing the bowler
- Bat is swung straight back over the stumps in line with the shoulders
- Top hand in control with the bottom hand acting as a fulcrum
The perfect batting stance for intermediate and advanced players
Perfect starts to become a bit more difficult when you get to more experienced players.
Once a player is capable of playing a range of shots with good shape and a still head they can be free to experiment a little more with their stance and backswing.
By 'shape' I mean the batsman has stable base with the feet playing forward or back, a strong core, a still head and a smooth flow of the arms through their shots.
You find players who have not had much coaching tend to be further away from the perfect model. The more experienced a player gets the more they develop their own methods. This is built on base of sound technique and experience.
Open stance and trigger movements
Chanderpaul's front on stance (see the picture at the top) is an extreme example of an adapted technique and open stance. Many top batsmen open their chest out like this (though rarely that far). Most also correct this by moving sideways on before the bowler delivers the ball.
This is known as a trigger movement. It's not a good idea to coach trigger movements, especially with kids, as you risk preventing the head being still at the point of delivery.
More experienced players can find such movements useful. They can get you moving on the balls of your feet and focus your attention. Rob Key used a trigger to correct an error where he moved onto the front foot too early.
As a coach I would be looking at the players head at the point of delivery. As long as it is still a player can use any trigger that makes them feel more comfortable.
Backswing and backlift
In modern coaching terms the backlift has been replaced by the backswing although it is essentially the same thing.
Again, advanced players can experiment with what works for them. Some players like to keep the bat raised early like Graham Gooch, some prefer a lower backswing to give more control, especially on the leg side.
What remains essential is the ability to play a range of strokes from the backswing that is selected. If in doubt, go back to the 'perfect' method.
More on all these methods here.
What is your method and if you coach, how do you coach the stance and backswing?© Copyright miSport Holdings Ltd 2008