A training session will consist of any number of component parts. These could be warm-ups, exercises to improve strength, stamina and agility and, of course, drills. Cricket batting drills come in all manner of forms and varieties but all have the same common goals: to improve existing technique, to remedy faults in the technique, to develop a new technique.
Drills will most likely be designed by the coaching staff at any given club and will be categorised accordingly. Some possible categories batting drills can fall under are:
- Grip and Stance
- Batting Basics
- Back Foot Batting
- Front Foot Batting
- Attacking and Defensive Shots
- Shot Selection
- Running Between the Wickets
but for the purposes of this introductory guide, let’s take a look at a few of the most common themes found in drills.
The equipment you will need to carry out the training includes bat, pads, helmet, nets, balls (incrediballs) and a partner or coach.
You won’t use all the equipment in every drill. For example, the grip remedial drill does not require the use of cones.
The use of an incrediball is very useful. Incrediballs are designed to improve performance during practice and are manufactured to a very high standard with a good seam. They also come in a range of aesthetically attractive colours. Some best ones are available on Amazon.co.uk.
Grip Remedial Drill
Grip and stance practised in pairs with the coach checking for correct positioning and technique. Clearly, the grip is of vital importance and is fundamental for the execution of the shot.
The top hand controls the shot, while the bottom hand is used to manoeuvre the direction on the shot and supply power.
Your coach will drop the ball about a stride length in front of you and with your top hand only on the bat, step to the pitch of the ball and play a drive shot with the top hand only. Concentrate on control of the bat with your elbow kept high. Repeat this maybe 10-20 times. With your coach in close attendance, focus on removing any bad habits or flaws in the technique. Practice until the correct execution becomes habitual.
Next, play the drive shot with only the bottom hand on the bat. This will raise your awareness of where the hand should be positioned on the handle to control the shot eg. keeping it along the ground. Do this also 10-20 times and remedy any glitches, flaws or bad habits.
Finally, play the same shot with both hands on the bat, again 10-20 times, and remedy.
Attacking Front Foot Drill
This drill should be done in groups with six or seven batsmen in each group and a bowling player to deliver the ball at them. In the nets, place two marker cones either side of the pitch about halfway along. The bowling player throws the ball high underarm to the batsman. The batsman attempts to drive the ball along the ground between the markers. Anything hit through the air is out. If the batsman leaves the ball he gets another go. Each batsman has three goes before moving to the back of the queue.
The idea is to go at a fair clip, while the coach stands by and keeps a close eye on the techniques of the batsmen to identify any flaws or bad habits. The batsmen should try to hit every shot between the two markers. Get each group to compete against each other.
Forward Defensive Shot
The drill should be conducted in groups of three to six batsmen with one player feeding. In the nets, place two marker cones as in the previous drill.
The batsman adopts his stance and the ball is fed into him using an incrediball. The bowler delivers good overarm feeds. The batsman has 3-4 attempts to swing the bat down vertically and bring the ball to a stop in front of his wicket or defend the ball through the cones. He can also elect to leave the ball. After 3 or 4 goes the batsman goes to the back of the queue. The coach inspects the technique and advises and makes adjustments accordingly.
If the ball is defended back through the cones the batsman can call “Run!” or “Yes!” and then run. If the ball does not go through the cones the batsman stays at the crease. The object is to score 30 runs per group.
Pull Shot Drill
Again, the drill should be carried out in groups with a bowling player feeding. In the field, place two marker cones at short leg and square of the wicket at the non-striker’s end.
The feeder plays a high bouncing delivery. The batsman attempts to pull the ball through the cones on the on side. He faces six deliveries then leaves the crease and the next batsman comes in. If the batsman leaves one, he can have another go.
The shot should be played correctly every time, meaning: weight on the back foot, with a horizontal or cross bat and with the arms fully outstretched in front of the body. The shot should be timed, played aggressively and with a roll of the wrists to prevent the ball from going up in the air.
Playing with the Spin (Off Spin)
In groups of two or three plus a good bowling player feeding. The feeder will squat on one knee and feed a ‘looped’ delivery, which turns in toward the right-handed batsman after pitching. Two cones should be placed from square leg to mid-wicket. The feeder tries to land the ball on a good length and the batsman attempts to play the ball through the zone marked out by the cones. In this drill, left-handers should attempt to score through the same zone.
To make it harder, make the scoring zone smaller. Also, if the batsman is finding it easy to hit the ball square, move the scoring zone straighter. For variation, adjust the lengths bowled and introduce the sweep shot.
These are just a few examples of the types of drill that can be conceived and practised. See if you can come up with some of your own. If you need to know more, for an in-depth discussion on drills you can consult my upcoming eBook on cricket batting drills, which I will be publishing soon. In the meantime, you can check out this coaching manual on Amazon.co.uk, which will give you some good pointers and advice. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments section below.