We had a great question come in on the Cricket Show from Basit, who talked about his lack of confidence to get behind the ball when it's aimed short pitched and at the body. He felt that he was taking too many balls on the body. This often comes from a lack of confidence through a player believing that they have not got the skills to attack or cope with the incoming delivery.
It is then the coaches' responsibility to build both confidence and competence through a series of drills.
One of the drills that I use at the start of the process is this,
The player has underarm feeds coming from the ground up - mirroring the appropriate trajectory - with tennis balls to start with.
The aim for the drill for the first three balls is to position the hands in a dynamic place so that the end of the bat handle acts as a "torch shining it's light" on the height and line of the incoming ball.
The batter aims to let the ball hit the end of the bat handle. This is a great position, as from this position the bat can come through and snap into a pull shot. We do this in the fourth ball of the sequence.
This drill is also used in power hitting contexts in both baseball and cricket. There are lots of videos of baseball players doing this drill to facilitate greater bat lag in their swing. Have a look online.
We use this drill to develop the following things in a short ball context:
Create bat lag. Bat Lag increases the range of motion for the bat to go through in the shortest time. Upshot of which is hand speed and bat speed. The quicker the hands, the more confident the player will become at dominating the same ball that they initially perceived as being a threat.
Encourage the player to get behind the line of the ball. Using tennis balls initially takes the fear away whilst facilitating the movement towards the ball. This promotes the opposite movement to the "backing away" motion that we see many players players doing against fast bowling.
Building confidence. The player soon works out that the closer they get to the line of the ball, the more precision and control they have with both their bat handle-end and normal pull contacts. The confidence that derives from hitting a small ball with an even smaller target areas (bat handle end) is massive and then when the fourth ball comes along they simply let the bat swing through and "BOOM!"
If you have a young player who is backing away from the faster bowlers then teach them this drill as a starting point to developing a robust and confident back foot game.
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