"Action stations" – whatever happened to standing still and waiting for the ball?

As a young batsman, the absolute importance of standing still until the bowler released the ball was drummed into me. And more recently, as I have worked through various levels of the coach education process, the same mantra is still repeated – pick up the bat, yes, think about leading with the dipped front shoulder, but don’t move the feet too early.

It’s not easy. And when young players see the professionals twitching, shuffling their feet, and generally not standing still, it can be even harder to convince them to stick to the text-book and wait until the ball is released.So I was fascinated to read an article in the Summer issue of the ECB Coaches Association “Coaches Matter”, with Graham Thorpe, now England’s Lead Batting Coach.

The article describes how England’s top batsmen are now being coached to adopt the “action position” as they wait for the ball, replacing what can be uncoordinated trigger movements with a coordinated pre-delivery sequence to initiate rhythm and activate muscles. Continue reading "Action stations" – whatever happened to standing still and waiting for the ball?

Twenty20 – “good cricket”? Oh, yes!

There is an interesting discussion on the PitchVision Academy on the merits of twenty20 as a coaching model for young cricketers. Sometimes the performances of the top players can look almost superhuman, and it can be difficult to find ideal models for younger players to follow.

Trying to hit the ball as far as Chris Gayle, or playing the Dil-scoop, or bowling 150kph yorkers like Lasith Malinga – surely, that’s only for the professionals?

Is there something in twenty20 for younger players (and amateurs at all levels) to aspire to?

If you saw the IPL2011 game between Deccan Chargers and Delhi Daredevils, then the answer has to be yes. Continue reading Twenty20 – “good cricket”? Oh, yes!

trials and examinations…

Several of our young colts have been at district and County trials recently. It’s great to see them getting the recognition they deserve, but it does raise the question of whether we should be coaching for trials, not just for playing the game.

I have heard this a couple of times at Colts’ practice – “we don’t want a game, we won’t learn anything”; and “I’ve got a trial later this week, I must have a net”.

I guess I was never good enough to worry about trials – I played District cricket, because my school was much the strongest at cricket in the borough, and a couple of County schools games in the sixth form when a lot of the better players had left after O levels. But back in my day you were invited to play by (hopefully) knowledgeable coaches, taking advice from school masters.

The system is much fairer now, certainly, and works through the Clubs. But from the comments of some of our Colts, it does sound as if the trial has become part of the prevailing examination culture.

Which brings me back to the question – what do you have to do to “pass” a representative trial? And should we be coaching that knowledge, or trying to instill it through match play?