Why coaches are teaching the wrong shot... or why the on drive comes first | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Why coaches are teaching the wrong shot... or why the on drive comes first

Gary Palmer has been coaching batting for over 20 years and he knows how to do it right. In this article he discusses why the on drive is the easier shot to learn first.

What was the first drive you learned, or taught to someone else?

There is a fair chance it was the front foot off drive. The great looking signature shot of many great Test players.

But starting with the off drive is dangerous because it gets you into bad habits. It encourages your head towards the off side.

And yes, that’s a bad thing.

While we need to lean towards the off side and step slightly across the crease to play the perfect off drive but when it comes to teaching beginners how to play the various drives, it’s about as sensible as picking a 17 man squad for a Test match.

It’s not the way if you want to do it properly.

Learn the on drive first

Playing the on drive well is the secret of developing good balance, good alignment and an effective technique that allows you to play straight and develop an all-round technique.

This is because driving the ball well through mid on and straight, generally means you are well balanced and aligned as a batter.

So start with the on drive and then progress to the straight drive.

 That way you are playing two shots while your head remains in the same balanced position wicket to wicket. 

Because of this, playing straight will be very easy and will feel natural. This means good technique develops very quickly.

But the off drive isn’t lost.

Once the on and straight drive shots have been constructed, you can groove and develop the off drive which requires the player to make subtle adjustments of the head leading shoulder and backswing.

Learning the on drive

There is an old cliché that the on drive is the hardest shot to learn and play well.

But given the correct biomechanically sound technical advice, the on drive is an easy shot to play.

Plus it makes you a better player because makes it easier to play the swinging and turning delivery, especially the ball that comes back in to you. Playing the on drive well minimises the chance of a batter getting blocked off and playing around the front pad.

The key points are:
  • On the backlift, your bat aligns over off stump.
  • Your head aligns to the ball (not your shoulder)
  • As you step towards the ball your head position is exaggerated forward of the body.
  • As you step forward and lean in the back foot turns to point up the wicket to align the hips and give balance.
  • Take a shorter stride to help you get your head further forward than other drives. This will also help the back foot turn in slightly this aligning the hips. This short stride will help you let the ball come.
  • Your stride is short with your front foot down line of leg stump, no wider.
  • The front foot points up the wicket.
  • Strike the ball forward of your front pad with the heel of your back foot off the ground
  • Let the ball come under your eyes
  • Hit the shot with a dominant top hand
  • Finish with a check drive with high hands and high leading elbow.
  • Toe of bat should finish pointing at target area (mid on).

You can always spot a good player by the way they play the on drive.

Talented players are generally the ones that play the on drive well.

Good coaches coach this shot well.

Learning the off drive

Of course, we all want a good off drive too.

So once you are comfortable with your balance and alignment playing straight and through the on side, look to learn the small changes you need to make to off drive.

The key points are:
  • Your head moves towards the off side and aligns to the target area (off side). Note that the head now has moved from the neutral position of being wicket to wicket.
  • Your initial backswing, from over off stump, begins to re-align once you have decided to play an off drive. The backswing will now align from leg stump so that it swings in a straight line towards mid off.
  • Your front foot lands in a more sideways position. This ensures your head is supported over the ball of the front foot giving you good balance.
  • Your shoulder turns slightly more to play the off drive but it’s the head that aligns with the ball not the shoulder. The shoulder stays slightly leg side of the ball and target area to allow the bat to swing in a straight line to from backswing to mid off.

Remember though; if you learn the on drive first and master it, it will be easier to learn the off drive.

If you want a better on drive and more runs, get Gary Palmer’s online cricket coaching course. It’s available for instant access. Just click here

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I'm 12, Have Made All Of The Rep Sides In My Area.

Hunter Valley
Emerging Blues
Central North

But I Still Cannot Play On Drives Well At All & I Think If I Learn How To Play All Of My Shots Well Than I Can Really Go Far In Cricket. These Instructions Really Helped Me Out, & Last Saturday, I Brought Up My First Hundred With A Well-Timed On Drive Smiling Thanks Guys.

Cheers, Thomo.

Oops, I Meant 13* Not 12.

What a great story Thomo.

Personally, I always feel the off drive is the first shot to teach, as it is played 10-20 times more often than an on-drive. The preference for many modern players is to turn the ball into the midwicket area from leg stump, as this avoids the mid on fielder. As long as the ball is played with a straight bat and not hit across, then it's probably 4 every time.

With regard to the head falling to the off side, as long as you don't 'fall away', your head shouldn't go to the offside. It should go at the ball. This is done by making sure the balance and stride is correct so the top and bottom half all move in the same line.

When a batter is learning to drive we want to make sure the top hand and front arm is doing most of the work, which is why the shoulder dips and turns into the shot to align the bat swing correctly. If you attempt to play an off drive with an on drive set up, you will hit 'in to out' and your back hip and shoulder can push through too early. This is far too common a complaint i see with many young players.

As long as you avoid 'planting' your foot by not committing too early, then any drive can be mastered. The On drive is the lesser played shot but is beautiful when played correctly. Equally, a whip through midwicket can often bring more rewarding results.