Why hitting the gaps is about more than a quick drill | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Why hitting the gaps is about more than a quick drill

It’s a heartbreaking moment as a batsman. The bowler serves up a half-volley, the ball pings from the middle of the bat.

Only to go straight to a fielder.

The ‘keeper probably compounds your pain with a quick “you missed out there, I thought that was a gimmie” perhaps you let the frustration get to you and end up playing an injudicious shot (let’s be honest, we all have had an ugly heave under pressure), miss it and get out.

All because you hit the fielder and not the gap.

The limitations of technique

In the old days the solution would be clear; get in the nets and tighten up your technique. When the bad ball comes you will put it away. A coach stands at the back of the net telling you to keep your elbow up and play in the proper way

But modern coaching thinking says something different; that traditional technically correct shots are too limiting. It’s now all about being effective rather than using the copybook. Technique limits you to one way of playing.

A way that may not be the best for you.

So coaches develop coaching drills that push technique aside in the aim to develop players with a different mentality. Outcome is more important than process. In other words, look to hit the gaps in any way that works. Who cares what it looks like?

An example of such a drill is this one.

Sold as a drill for young players to learn how to hit the gaps instead of the fielders it sounds like a cracking idea. A good coach will make the right technical corrections along the way and the player gets more adapt at outcome-based thinking.

The problem with outcomes

Outcome based training is a sensible approach. As the cliché goes; it doesn’t matter how, only how many.

Drills that focus on outcome are an essential tool in any practice toolbox.

But focusing on outcome at the expense of technique is just as bad a mistake.

Take the drill above where you have a cone at square leg.

The get the ball through those cones you have to hit across the line with less than the full face of the bat. There is no way to hit it otherwise.

It’s easy with a tennis ball and a bobble feed. In a match a player with an excellent eye and timing may get away with this, especially if the bowling is poor. A lesser player will get bowled or LBW when he or she misses the ball playing with a face half its normal size.

On the other hand, the textbook recommends that you on drive that ball through mid on with a full face of the bat. If it is wide enough down the leg side you can flick it through midwicket safely. The arc is much wider and the risk much lower.

The drill reinforces bad technique in the blind effort to make outcome the only thing that matters. But good outcomes come from batting with a technique that gets you the most runs at the lowest risk for the type of game you are playing.

Which is best?

The solution is to practice both outcome and process.

Do your technical drills and get as perfect as you can. This will give you a solid base of high percentage shots to work from. 

At the same time, put yourself to the test at hitting gaps by trying to hit balls through cones as the drill above suggests, but do it in a more specific way.

For example, feed the ball (with a tennis ball, cricket ball or bowling machine) outside the off stump and just set up off side cones. Hit the ball to each cone in turn, making sure your bat is pointing as a checked drive towards the cone you have hit the ball. The widest cone should be roughly at cover’s left hand.

Do the same for the on side with the widest cone at midwicket’s right hand.

You can then learn how to hit the ball in these areas with a full face, rather than swinging across it.

For more tips and drills on scoring effectively with low risk, check out Gary Palmer on PitchVision Academy. Gary has over 20 years coaching experience and has helped many young players to success in cricket. 

Broadcast Your Cricket Matches!

Ever wanted your skills to be shown to the world? PV/MATCH is the revolutionary product for cricket clubs and schools to stream matches, upload HD highlights instantly to Twitter and Facebook and make you a hero!

PV/MATCH let's you score the game, record video of each ball, share it and use the outcomes to take to training and improve you further.

Click here for details.


when u say hitting the gaps, i've read in a previous article that the sky is a gap.
wouldnt it be easier to time the ball over the infield with a checked drive?

Yes I agree. The traditional technical shots are too limited. unless you're KP sized giant, those drives will probably be stopped by a fielder in the close circle anyway.

I have been told by the coach to play the traditional way but honestly I hate it as it doesn't nothing good for my team in terms of run and also morale.

I don't understand why cricket coaching seemed to be a sport where creativity is not encouraged?

Khsu - the reason that the correct technique is taught and then drummed into players is that by having that base you can then become creative. The best players in the world will all have great technique, this is what allows them to come up with Dilscoops, slog sweeps and fine angles in their stroke play.

As for going aerial being a gap, in a sense it is. However, you have to weigh up the risk in hitting any ball in the air - where are the fielders, how well are you timing the ball, do you have the power and so on. Keeping the ball on the ground takes the chance of a catch out of the equation, if you play the shot badly at worst the fielding side will stop you scoring - mess up an aerial attack and you could well be out.

absolutely agree with Scotts comment.....too many people see the stars performing fantastically inventive shots and mistake these for slogging or hopeful swishing...you must work on good basic technique firrst....! Practice practice practice the basics .....then you will have the alignment and balance to play more inventively!!

I used to be a slogger but after learning proper technique I have become a far better player. What I believe is, to find gaps you have to play matches and manipulate the field rather than changing the technical aspects. One can use his bottom hand to open or close the face of the bat to find gaps. Lofted drives are also very good options to manipulate the field. Play on the bowlers mind. You can advance down the pitch as well sometimes.