Have you noticed that some batters set up differently?
Bent knees and a slightly wider base are notable in Kevin Pietersen, Graeme Smith and Gary Ballance. They move completely differently. Their movements don't relate to those coaching words and terms that I have often been exposed to in during my 22 year coaching career.
How do you coach players like this when they struggle with technical issues?
Like last week, you coach the intention and not the action. These pare perfect for bent knee/wider based players who are not moving very well to length or fuller deliveries, or struggling to transfer their weight back into the ball.
The front foot tunnel
The simple intention is this:
- You are batting in a tunnel. Your feet are on the road in the tunnel and your stance is taken at the entrance of the tunnel. The bowler is at the opposite end of the tunnel at ball release.
- Your batting helmet in your stance is 3 centimetres below the height of the tunnel.
- The aim is to move from your stance to ball contact without your batting helmet hitting the roof of the tunnel.
The aim for these types of players is to move from a low position at stance to a low position at ball contact.
The imaginary tunnel gives them an intention and the result should see them push down and drive off of their back foot to initiate their movement forward.
This is how these guys move.
Play bounce ball
A second intention is playing "bounce ball": The aim is to make the ball hit the ground ahead of hitting the side of the net or before the ball reaches the bowler.
This asks the batter to find their contact point which guarantees that the ball is hit with control and falls into part one of Graham Gooch's famous mantra:
"Hit the ball along the ground; or out of the ground."
Most people will need to strike this ball under the line of the eyes or even later to meet the intention; yet some will be able to strike the ball slightly in front and still succeed.
I had one infamous day (11/12/2008) where I had the opportunity to play bounce ball with both Sachin Tendulkar and Kevin Pietersen. They both nailed the drill, yet Sachin hit the ball really late to get the ball into the ground and KP took the ball earlier to achieve the same result.
Fit the player
It's our job as coaches to work with the players preferences and strengths rather than moulding them into our own belief system. Intention based coaching provides a simple way of doing this.
And, from experience, it works.
Watch your batters and see how they stand. If they present like the guys that I mentioned at the top of the page and if they are struggling to move into length and full balls then try these two intentions.
Introduce the first one and then, when appropriate, the second.
Let me know how you go.