How important is a trigger movement to your batting success? | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

How important is a trigger movement to your batting success?

To move or to keep still, that is the question.

Almost every first class batsman has a trigger movement of some kind: That shuffle of the feet just before the bowler delivers the ball that gets you into position.  Yet the coaching books are adamant about keeping still.

Who is right?
Should you be using a trigger move?

As with all great cricketing questions the answer is 'it depends'.

Head still, eyes level

Batting, like any ball striking skill, is about being balanced and meeting the ball in perfect coordination with the body's movements. That is what timing is all about.

It all starts as the bowler releases the ball and you have that fraction of a second to decide where the ball is going and what shot you are going to play. This becomes much easier to do if your head is still and your eyes are level.

The ball is already moving, if your head is moving side to side at the same time it takes the brain valuable extra time to predict line and length: Time that can make the difference between sound defence and nicking off first ball.

So it makes perfect sense for coaches to tell you to keep your head still and simply be relaxed and balanced at the crease.

The advantages of trigger movements

To a 10 year old learning to play, keeping still is good advice. It is a fundamental basic of batting that can be confused easily with the complications of triggers.

But there are obvious benefits to a player with the basics down already: Time, rhythm and balance

  • Time. All well executed trigger movement is able to buy you time. You are already halfway to playing a shot before the ball is out of the hand.
  • Rhythm. If you move a little at the right moment your big movement shot becomes easier, almost like you have played a tiny practice shot first to get into the swing of things. Like a metronome ticking back and forth in perfect timing.
  • Balance. A movement pre-delivery can get you onto the balls of your feet with your head over your toes. You are both ready to move but also stable and balanced.

We also know from other sports that a trigger movement helps you focus mentally.

All this is possible without a trigger movement, but is a lot more difficult. The trigger gives you momentum into whatever shot you select.

The problem with trigger movements

Like a lot of newer ideas in cricket, the trigger movement is a misunderstood technique. Yes, it has huge advantages when done correctly but when done wrong you are staring down the barrel of failure.

I think what may happen is that players are influenced by what they see on TV, but attempt to recreate the trigger movements of their heroes without access to high level coaching (or any coaching).

Your setup is crucial and adding or changing a trigger movement out of context can lead to:

  • Loss of rhythm. Moving too early can upset that delicate metronome of rhythm that all good batsmen need.
  • Less time. If you move too late and your head is not still when the ball is delivered it will feel as if the ball is on you much more quickly.
  • Unbalanced. Getting caught off balance when the ball is bowled because you have moved incorrectly will limit your range of shots and timing drastically.

In short, getting a trigger movement right is hard work. When Rob Key adopted one in 2003 he said:

"To get it I had to hit hundreds of balls on freezing mornings at Canterbury three or four times a week on a pretty dodgy surface in an indoor net. I'm a work in progress really, but you have to work hard at something like that because it's not something you can think about when you're batting. It's got to be natural."

Still or moving?
Where does all this leave us?

I think it makes trigger movements a highly personal thing, and not something to be entered into lightly.

First, the basics. No matter what your personal style, to succeed you must have:

  • Head still at the point of delivery
  • Eyes level in your stance and at the point of delivery

If you have not achieved much success with the bat yet my advice is simple: Focus on keeping still for now. It's doubtful the bowling will be of a speed a trigger become more important anyway.

You may have a natural trigger movement. As long as it is not away from the stumps and it gives you confidence then stick with it. If not, focus on keeping still again. Go back to basics.

Most people don't have one naturally and make a conscious decision at some point to adopt one. If you want to do this, remember Rob Key and how much work it took him, a very fine batsman. As long as you are prepared to put in as much work as Rob to do it there are a number of options. Try them out and find a comfortable one, then get to work:

  • Back foot back and across towards off stump, transferring weight back onto the front foot as the ball is bowled.
  • Front foot forward (not across).
  • Widening your stance, back foot back, front foot forward.
  • Taking a pace down the wicket

Generally the back first movements are better for pace and the forward first movements are better for spin. Moving down the wicket is a good strategy to get your feet going but is best avoided every ball, especially when the keeper is standing up.

Bob Woolmer rightly points out the longer you bat in an innings the less you find you need a trigger at all. He also advises that it's impossible to coach as everyone will have something different they find comfortable.

I admit to being sceptical about the need for a trigger at club level at all. Bowlers are not the same standard and the whole thing is prone to going horribly wrong if not taken in context correctly. If you must have one, stick to the basics of being still at the point of delivery. If you are struggling for form look elsewhere to turn it around, a trigger is not the answer.

What are your experiences with trigger movements?

Photo credit: pj_in_oz


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This whole approach looks a bit flawed, this 'trigger movement' is just a natural response of a batsman looking to play the ball. And it is a subconscious response. Coaching it is just making batting more complex. Looking for a trigger movement in a batsman and trying to mimic it or coach it is just missing the point all together.

I agree crazyfrog. Triggers can be natural or they can be adopted but that takes a heck of a lot of effort to make in subconscious. I think many people don't realise how much work it takes or even if it is worth the effort.

Trigger Movement is just the person ownership. the main thing is FEELING if your feeling is good what ever you do is fine for you. I noticed evry batsmen (rather he do trigger movement or not) at one point he become still at the time of release so if you do trigger movement or not dose'nt matter. the matter is thouse batsman get problem thouse who arehave move,ent at the time of release that is the part we need to look after. so for me no movement is batter then trigger movement because at last you become still at the time of release. I thing must look after evry one have the his own FEELING so pls don't toch his FEELING and go forward with his FEELING.
The main thing is batsmen confidance and FEELING.
out of 30 batsmen 27 become still at the time of release. so see the end result not the early. BECAUSE EVRY ONE DIFRENT. AND EVRYONE HAVE HIS OWN FEELING SO PLS DON'T PLAY WITH HIS FEELING AS A COACH because we are there to help them not to Show him HOW MUCH WE. TC

I like the idea that is is about feeling. I suppose another way of describing it is "rhythm". When things just feel right.

i have a similar trigger movement like michael clarke and it is very relaxing but i also can have a trigger movement like neil mckenzie but im used to it now and have ease with playing any bowlers, when a left hand bowler comes on to bowl i just open my body up and start my trigger movement outside of leg stump and makes it more easier to attack a left handed bowler as i am a right handed batsmen.

Hi David,
I've been having trouble with my back foot while batting which a guy from my 2nds team has picked up over the last few weeks. My back foot 9 out of 10 times holds straight, meaning I can drive off the front foot very well and powerfully. On the odd occasion, my back foot tends to drift away, onto my leg stump, meaning I can't drive as well because my bat is taking a slightly different path. I am swinging around my front leg slightly at times. This all applies for my foot front drives, leg glances and foot foot defensive.
The first half of last season I took guard on middle stump while playing mens 3rds cricket. I would always be bowled by the good ball on off stump. I should be defending it straight, but if my foot is to move, I'm not using the full face of the bat, leading to my downfall. This year I have been taking guard on middle and off. I'm scoring better but still have the same problem.
I've been asked if I've ever tried using a trigger movement - and I had a little go at training tonight by batting on middle and moving slightly back and across with my back foot just before the ball is bowled. Do you think this would help me or would it just be like taking a guard where my front foot is on middle and my back foot is on middle and off? I just don't feel to comfortable moving at the crease when I've always stood still in the past. Do you think this trigger movement would be useful to me in the long term if I worked on it?
Thanks for your help

personally i find that by having a trigger move i have a lot more time to play the ball. but i think that the trigger is a very personal thing and that you should only have one if you feel comfortable with it and find a benefit if not then it can actually have adverse affects on your batting. so you just have to find what is right for you.

I think Kevin Pietersen's trigger is good and would soot me because I score runs in similar areas to kp. I would like to know how to use/copy his trigger?

You might want to think twice: "To get it I had to hit hundreds of balls on freezing mornings at Canterbury three or four times a week on a pretty dodgy surface in an indoor net. I'm a work in progress really, but you have to work hard at something like that because it's not something you can think about when you're batting. It's got to be natural." (Rob Key)

I know that and I would still like to know what to do please, like where you start where to step ect

Without wanting to appear glib the place to start is your current setup. Grip, stance and backswing must be perfect before thinking about trigger moves. Do you have any videos or pictures?

No,sorry but my coaches say that I am one of the most technically best players.

You have several coaches? Can you ask them for help?

I have on batting coach but he isn't much help so it would be much better help if you helped me. Than you

I'll be honest with you Adam, it would be a very rare player who would benefit from Pietersen's trigger move. Most people would end up in a mess, even if they worked on it non stop for 6 months. I would never coach it to anyone unless I was convinced it would help their technique. To do that I would need to coach the player directly. So, sorry but I don't think I can help.

What is Michael Clarke's trigger movement?

Mate watch him in the 5th test

i was thinking of taking up one of these triggers

taking a pace down the wicket-distrupt the bowlers length and exploit my skill on the fornt foot and get ontop of shorter ones

front foot forward and opening and back foot back and across a few inches- gets my head in line with off stump and prepares me for any shot i want, especialy cuts and pulls.

after todays net session, i think triggers are not neccessary in club cricket


i am extremely weak on the back foot, so if i was to ake up a trigger, id take up the back and across trigger right?

wat if i just stayed still with my weight over my back foot, so it is easy to transfer onto the back foot (good against quicks)

keep my weight forward so i can get onto the front foot quickly against spinners.

does that sound alright dave?

It's hard to say without seeing you in action Louis. Most people don't have a problem that is fixed by trigger moves. It's normally something more simple.

why we are so counfuse about trigger movement?
its the position you are ready to play the ball.
its up to you, you before the ball you move your feet (back and cross or just front foot press) raeady position. what evre you do at the time you must be in still position to see the ball properly.
so its up to your body & mind feeling what he like.
from me if you not make any trigger movement and feel comfortable you are fine. or you are make any movement and finshed before the ball release you are fine.
but if you are on the move at the time of release you be un easy to find the line and lenght of the ball.

dave, iv aparently got this trgger and im not sure whether its good or bad...

iv got a wide open stance to both left arm and right arm and right arm over.

aparently i take my front foot back a few inches and narrow my stance slighlty b4 the ball is bowled.
would this hinder my technique in the future?
aparently i play my best shots when i do that trigger


The key is this: are you balanced, still and ready to move forward or back when the ball is delivered? If you are, carry on.

would u recommend the trigger of shane watson for someone who is not quick enough to see and judge the ball?

I think its players game
if you feel good when you doing trigger movement do it.
its depand on the player how he feel.
we are as coaches some time forget this its players game. you see if player doing his best let him do what ever he do. some players very good when they do trigger movement and some straggel doing this so pls see the player how he feel if good that is good for him . if some one not doing any movement and he doing good thats good for him.
in the end we all want player must be still at the time of release.

it will come in the coming days.

As a lot of people point out, the key thing is to keep the head still and the point of the delivery and eyes level. I find that when my form is good, my trigger (back and across) helps me get in position early and keep my head still. When my concentration is not good, or head scrambled, i trigger too early or too late - so I am still moving or not level at the point of delivery and not picking the ball up at all. What i would find useful is a discussion about when the trigger happens - when the bowler's bowling arm begins to rise, is at the top of his arm swing, or at the point of release? Cheers

Trigger movements are excellent ways for the batsmen to force himself to play more positively if he feels his footwork is getting sluggish. No trigger movement can help set up every shot, but they can be used to make sure that a particular type of ball is punished.

As an example, I have two trigger movements that I use against fast and medium pace bowling, depending on the circumstances.

If I feel the bowler is trying to pitch the ball up, I will put myself in the mindset of aggressively driving anything even remotely overpitched, and take a step down the crease as a trigger movement to put myself in a good position to do so. I back my reactions to be able to stand tall to anything short and ride it for a single. This is a great way of putting a bowler off his line and length.

Alternately, if I feel he is dropping just back of a length (possibly in response to my previous tactic), I step back and across and focus on cutting and pulling anything short, and abandoning the drive unless it is a full half-volley.

It's certainly a useful weapon for a batsman to have in his arsenal.

I have yet to see how they help you play certain shots in my experience that is. I play a good standard of club cricket which usually involves facing pro's who are genuine pro's! As in play state cricket in Oz etc. So I dont buy into people saying that they don't think it is necessary in club cricket, it depends on the individual, for me I am currently working on a trigger which helps me get my feet moving comfortable and also makes sure my chin is glued to my left shoulder (i have a problem with balance occasionally). I have messed around with a few over the years. I think I started with the old fashioned back foot back and across, but now that doesn't feel right, and i feel off balance. So I am going to be working on something similar to the method Jaques Kallis/De Villiers use. I dont see the point for my own use to make big movements, so its more or less for me a routine, gets the feet moving and reminds me to keep my head balanced.
So to sum up, I spent a few years wondering why I had a trigger movement!! There was so much confusion around it, and I changed it a lot. I was to worried about what pros used what when I was younger, which is the worst thing you can do. If you don't feel you need one then don't get one! But I am feeling quite positive about using this one even though I have used it before, the difference is, now I KNOW why I am using it! and I know what it is helping me achieve.

now day by day this game is coming close to the base ball the player just see the ball and hit it. this going on in T20 matches.
picthes be comining good for batsmen no movement. because of this batsmen just making the base first and hit the ball as he like.
so if you are still you can see the ball well and hit the ball well.

I agree that at at higher levels of club cricket there may be a case in certain circumstances. As a general rule I advise against a trigger because it is used by poor batsmen with bad techniques to try and fix problems they don't have.

I've seen teenage batsmen who pick the bat up over leg stump and fall over to the off side think a "forward press" is the answer to their spin bowling woes - it's not.

The rule is simple: If your alignment, balance and shot completion are out of wack then a trigger move is a waste of time.

90% of people developing trigger moves just need better techniques, not to copy their favourite international batsman.

Young kids (10-13yrs age gp) usually start learning art of batting with leg OR middle stump guard with both toes of both leg perpendicular to leg or middle stump guard line. May be front foot 1-2 inches behind the guard line with slightly open posture facing cover/ Extra cover direction to get better access/ view/ negotiate the ball coming leg stump line. But due to poor built of thigh muscles(extensor& flexors gp) the reaction time to the balls often slow & due to initial natural forward movement towards Off side, they invariably unable to negotiate leg stump balls optimally, leading to do lot more flick shots or evasive action as they can not play these balls comfortably. Hence I feel trigger movement in any form may be helpful EVEN for young age Gp if they feel they r comfortable.

David suggested in his option as..."Back foot back and across towards off stump, transferring weight back onto the front foot as the ball is bowled." I feel If these Kids start triggering from one stump further down to Leg stump guard line (trigger end position) OR from leg stump line to middle stump guard line( trigger end position) with slight open chest position with front toe(Leading Toe) facing cover position with 60:40 weight ratio on front:back foot, then their playing capability for leg side balls will definitely improve..(CAUTION: they should not shuffle to much, otherwise they will start flicking the ball instead of On drive).

Another important concept to consider here is ... is it possible to keep head still once you r moving towards off stump? I feel NO because Once u r moving horizontally towards any direction(even though U stop at the time of releasing of ball) Intertia sets in due to initiation of Kinetic movement from static position & still exists. Hence to be stand still u have to finish your triggering well before the release point so that intertia nutralises. But it means bowler can well understand the end position of the batsman (as he finished triggering well before release). Therefore it is matter of balance which is more important even u r in movement along with GOOD Eye Position to meet the ball comfortably. BASICALLY during triggering the group of muscle initiate contraction activity to negotiate the ball which is coming almost parpendicularly towards the trigger movement, with better reaction time.

Many people questioned this particuler Trigger movement (as discussed in 2nd Para) bcoz in general weight will be more on front foot hence it is difficult to commit again for front foot drive smoothly. Therefore weight balance in both feet is crucial at this point.


Stand still in react to the ball , most great players over the years stood still at the crease, however a trigger movement if you use one is a very personal thing at the end of the day it's all about comfort

i am lacking in my footwark, which triggers will help me.

Footwork issues are not solved exclusively by trigger moves. It depends on the actual issue you have and your pre-delivery movement preference. So your question is very hard to answer.

I am the fan of trigger moves, so if i want to apply any of the triggers. How will i choose?
I want to add trigger moves in my batting. I like triggers too much.

Having read the article, what are your conclusions?

if an 12 yrs old child wants to apply triggers to his batting. which trigger he will chose and would that will affect or improve his batting if he is late on the ball

well the question is when the ball is deliverd my frnt foot goes acros.i am able to play the delivery well which is pitched up but i really strugle on short delivery of the same bowler! any suggestions????

What if I use ah devilliers trigger will it work???

I take my backfoot back and across but i get confused what to do with my frontfoot
Plz can anyone tell me what to do with my frontfoot?

How should a player bat if he learns to bat at 23 age...before this he has only played tennis ball cricket..should he go for a trigger movement??please reply sir

Hi Guys
Presently I'm really struggling with keeping still on the realise of the ball. No matter how much I tell myself to keep my head still on realase of the ball I continue to fall over. I'm "over anticipating" before the ball is being bowled (my foot moves across my stumps and head topples over.This causes me to misjudge line and length and also lunge at the ball.)what would be the best advice for me so I can stand still and keep my head and eyes still on realise of the ball. I've never had a trigger movement or tried to implement one however my legs just keep moving as the ball is about to be delivered. How can I make myself not move as the ball is about to be delivered.

No at first you should be still but after you learn the basics you can have a trigger movement

Just the front foot forward