The time used between balls by many players is not used very effectively by many players.

Cricketers come to the Australian Cricket Institute with a common problem. “ I get bogged down after a few balls and then play a silly shot and get out” or “ I have trouble bowling the ball where I want to consistently”.

For some, and to the naked eye, that’s a technical deficiency, which most likely is a contributing factor.

However the other side of it that hardly any people explore or consider is what is going on between their ears.

Cricket is a game of stop, start, hit a ball, stop and have some down time then only to be going back to getting ready to hit the ball again.

In this down time, most players use their time negatively or not at all. Your ability to be consistent and achieve the desired outcome over and over again is technical yes, but the time you spend in between balls is just as crucial.

Using this time well can help with staying in the moment. Thinking about what you need to do right now.

Too many players think about what has happened or what is going to happen. e.g. “ What if I play and miss again” or “I just bowled a wide, don’t bowl another!”.

If you can overcome your mind and use this time effectively the benefits are there to see.

Your concentration levels last longer, you make better decisions, you are not affected by the situation of the game as much and as a result you can make clearer decisions.

Below I’ve listed out 5 different things you can implement into your between ball routine that can help you from drifting away and putting pressure on yourself.

1. Positive Self Talk

A very simple one to start off with but sometimes quiet hard to master.

The important think with this is to realise that you are always going to have negative thoughts or reactions when you do something wrong or under pressure.

The important part is trying to wipe that as quickly as possible and turn those thoughts into a positive.

This can be practiced and done on any occurrence.

Instead of thinking “this bowlers too fast here, I don’t want to get hurt!” You could go down the path of “his pace is going to make it easier if I use that to my advantage, wait for the full overmatched ball but the rest I can use the pace and run it down to third man”.

2. Quick And Non Bias Self Review/Reflection

A lot of players spend so much time in between balls sweating about what shot they’ve played.

How many times have you seen a player hit it straight to a fielder and drop their head back in annoyance?

Or keep playing the same shot that they wanted to for the whole time between balls and then face back up?

I’m not saying you can’t practice the shot you wanted to play, but a lot of people spend too much time worrying and sweating on that ball and what they did wrong.

What you can do is really simply review and reflect on your shot and move on to something else as quickly as possible.

It could be as simple as a rating out of 10 and then what you’d do differently.

Short. Sharp. And finally,  wiped clean so you don’t spend the next minutes or balls thinking about it.

 

3. Breathing

This is a relatively simple one.

It’s been proven that when you are under pressure or stress, your heart rate will go up.

The easiest way to lower that is by controlled breathing.

If you can actually focus on your breathing you’ll find that not only will it help you get your breath back and decrease your heart rate, but it will also then take your focus away from the game and other thoughts!

Try in for 5 or 6 and out for 7 or 8.

Allocating some time between balls to do this will help you get your levels back to even and you’ll be able to make better decisions.

4. Anchors to Distract You Away From The Pressure

Many elite players use certain actions or sequences of movements to help them switch off or take themselves away from an uncomfortable environment.

These pressures and distractions can look like the 'yappy' annoying slips cordon, concentrating on certain parts of the environment, scoreboard pressure and of course those negative thoughts we spoke about previously.

By having certain actions that take you outside of the situation, this helps you clear your mind and use that down time in a different way not thinking about those above pressure.

Some of these look like:

  • Walking out to square leg
  • Signing a song between balls
  • Staring out of the field of play and switching off from the contest
  • Watching people out on the boundary or those not involved in the game
  • Undoing gloves

As mentioned these “anchors” or whatever you want to call them, help players take them self outside of the contest and the stresses.

I’m sure you may even do some of these already.

5. Visualisation

Finally another tool you can look to use is visualisation.

This is a very underestimated and yet quite an effective way to help players feel confident and problem solve during their time on the pitch.

The power of visualisation is quite influential.

Visualisation during your innings or while your bowling can help you settle yourself into your role or give you the confidence to replicate during your innings.

Using some of your time in between balls to see yourself playing that correct shot or bowling that ball in the right area.

When visualising, go deep into it. How does it feel, what does it look like, what does your body have to do in order to execute that shot or particular ball.

The more you can replicate how real it is and the exact movements the more realistic it is and will transfer into your mechanics of what you are doing.

It may be you visualising playing the ball confidently, or getting into a powerful and balanced position when playing your shots. Alternatively from the bowling perspective, it may be you coming and bowling a great length ball hitting the batsmen bat high on the splice as they are coming forward.

You can play out any scenario in your head before you’ve done it and it will fill you with the confidence to execute this in real time.

So there you have it, these are some techniques you can implement into the time you spend in between balls.

My advice is not to just copy and do all of them, find a sequence of events that is comfortable to you, but more importantly works.

The whole point of this is to use your time effectively in between balls and take your thoughts away from the negative things and elevate the pressure that players put on themselves.

How you do this is ultimately up to you, these are just some techniques you can implement.

Lastly, this between ball routine has to be repeatable. You cannot achieve consistent results if you continuously randomly do these actions.

It is a method to doing them and there has to be a distinct reason in your routine as to why.

These processes are for you only and as a result can be done however you like in your own way.

Don’t copy Steve Smith or David Warner just because he is a world class player as these will not necessarily work for you.

 

Author: Joel Hamilton - ACI Co-Founder & Coach

 

There are multiple ways to get out in cricket as a batsman however batsman can particularly struggle with LBW dismissals. I believe LBW is the type of dismissal which is mostly related to technique. In this blog, I am going to suggest reasons why you might be struggling with LBW and some technical adjustments which will help you. I will warn you now, head position is the nucleus of batting technique and I am going to talk about it a lot.

Reason 1 – Head Position in Your Set Up

When you set up in your stance your head needs to be positioned directly over your feet. This ensures your centre of gravity is evenly balanced and you can move directly towards the ball. Your head is the heaviest part of your body therefore it is crucial we have it in the right place in our set up. If your head sits to far outside of your feet, your centre of gravity is too far towards the off side therefore it is hard to take your head straight down the line of the ball when it is coming into your stumps. If the ball is coming straight down the line of the stumps and your head is too far towards the off side you can fall over and play around your pad. Essentially, you’re playing across the line to a straight delivery which is dangerous and could be the reason you’re getting out LBW. Make sure your head is above your feet in your set up and your right eye is lined up at the bowler.

Reason 2 – Your Stance is Too Wide

Another reason you may be getting out LBW is again to do with your stance. If your stance is too wide you are not in an athletic position to move efficiently. When your stance is too wide your head position sits too far back in your stance. As I mentioned earlier, your head is the heaviest part of your body therefore if you have it too far back in your stance you can
get stuck. What also happens is you lead with your front pad and you end up playing around your pad because your head is too far back and your pad is in the way. If the ball moves back into your pad you are in trouble. In your batting stance, your head needs to be sitting above your front ankle. This will help you lead with your head down the line of the ball rather than leading with your pad and getting stuck.

Reason 3 – Not Tracking The Ball Late Enough

Watching the ball right onto your cricket bat is very important when the ball is straight at the stumps. Tracking the ball with your eyes all the way onto your bat helps to keep your head down the line of the ball and still. If you are getting out LBW a lot be sure to practice tracking the ball all the way to contact.

Goodluck, execute well.

James Bazley - ACI Coach & Programs Coordinator

 

Preface:  This article is for right hand medium/fast bowlerS who struggle against left handers.

So many R/H quicks seem to struggle for consistency when they’re bowling to left handers. Even more so if you naturally swing the ball in to a left hander.

A really common thing we hear is “I seem to be able to swing it away from the right hander but when I bowl to a lefty it goes straight.”

In this short article I’m going to talk about three really common reasons why that is the case and why bowlers struggle to bowl to lefties…

 

1. YOU DON’T CHANGE YOUR RUN UP

When you bowl to lefties, you need to change the angle of your run up (more so if you run in straight normally).

I’ll get you to picture it in your mind for a minute…

If you keep your run up the exact same as you have it for a right hander, where is everything lined up to?

Middle and leg stump for the left hander.

Take a couple of steps to your left at the top of your mark and create a straight line between you and the off stump/keeper.

Everything should be lined up to the off stump - run up, front arm, release and follow through.

2. YOUR WRIST POSITION CHANGES

Now, this one is a bit of a flow on effect from #1.

Because the angles of your run up haven’t changed, your wrist position has to.

To get the ball outside the off stump you have to change your wrist from your natural out-swing position to an in-swing position, pointing to third man for the left hander and you ‘push’ the ball across the batsmen.

If you start the ball where your run up is aligned, you’ll get your natural swing in but it’ll go down leg side.

That creates a cycle of frustration and in consistency.

If you get #1 right and change your angles, that will allow you to keep your natural wrist position, start the ball outside off and hopefully get it bending in to 3rd/4th stump (something most lefties don’t like 😉).

3. YOU DON’T PRACTICE IT

It might seem really simple but if you’re not confident and consistent against left handers, you probably don’t practice it enough.

It surprises me how many bowlers set targets up to R/H only when doing target bowling (no batsmen).

There’s almost as many left handers around now as right handers so you need to practice it as much as you do bowling to a right hander.

When you’re doing target bowling, set up targets for both left and right handers and practice going from one to another like you would in a game.

Obviously when you’re doing bat vs ball net sessions you’ve gotta bowl to the batsmen you’re given, but if you want to work on bowling to lefties ask your coach if you can move nets and follow them around.

Make sure you work on #1 & #2 in the nets as well.

Change your angles and work on your wrist position.

I hope that helps and as always, if you’ve got any tips, drills or tweaks that have helped you improve your ability to bowl to left handers I’m an open book, I’d love to hear them.

Author: Nick Fitzpatrick - Australian Cricket Institute Co-Founder & Coach

 

I don’t think there is enough emphasis put on how important it is to look after the cricket ball when you're in the field.

Who likes fielding in the sun all day?

Not me!

So why wouldn’t you do everything in your power to give yourself and your team the best chance of knocking the batting team over?

Yet it amazes me how many teams put little to no effort into keeping the ball in good condition.

It should be spoken about, there should be a plan around it and coaches should be educating players on how to care for a ball ethically and within the rules.

Think of it from a batsman’s point of view - how hard is it when the ball is nipping and swinging around all day compared to when the ball is knackered after 5 overs.

Here’s 5 tips for keeping the ball in good condition so it swings for longer...

1. Don’t Overload it With Moisture

A common myth we hear all the time is to ‘load it up Sheryl!’ (sweat, saliva, sunscreen...you name it).

You want to keep the ball as dry as possible for as long as possible to keep is swinging conventionally.

Yes you need to put some moisture on the ball to buff out scuffs but use as little as possible and get it off quickly.

PRO TIP - If you have players that sweat a lot in your team, ban them from touching it. If they’re bowling, give it to them as late as possible.

2. Appoint a ‘Ball Shining Skipper’

Everyone on the team should be aware of what’s required to keep the ball in good nick and be on board with doing so.

But…

You need to have a ‘Ball Shining Skipper’

Here’s a few requirements of a good skipper…

  • They don’t bowl, or don’t bowl much
  • They’re not the actual skipper
  • They don’t sweat too much
  • They field somewhere near the bowler
  • They know what they’re doing when it comes to shining the ball

Their job is simple…

  1. Pour their heart and soul into keeping the ball shiny (they should be almost as tired as the bowlers at the end of the day).
  2. Rouse on teammate who are not shining the ball or doing anything to ruin the ball. Become an absolute ball Nazi

Get the ball to the ‘Ball Shining Skipper’ as quickly as you can in the field to give them as much time as possible with it.

3. Get Heat into the Shiny Side

This one is probably debatable, I don’t know if there’s any science behind it.

But I have found that getting the shiny side really hot just before you bowl makes it swing more.

This means the ball skipper needs to rub it as hard and fast as they can on their thing before getting it to the bowler.

Give it a go and let me know if you reckon it swings more when the shiny side is hot.

4. Keep it Off The Ground

This seems pretty obvious but it had to be said.

I see so many players bounce it into the keeper or the ball hit the ground on the way back to the bowler.

The more it hits the ground the quicker it’s going to deteriorate.

Once you appoint a ball skip they’ll be all over this though, so it shouldn’t be an issue.

5. Look After The Seam

This one tends to take care of itself if you do all of the above well.

You can’t pick the seam but you can look after it - fix it up with your finger if it starts to peel apart.

Keep moisture off it so it doesn’t soften.

Keep the ball off the ground so it stays hard.

The seam acts as a rudder for swing so keep it in good condition and standing tall.

Hopefully that gives you a little blueprint to take back to your team and keep the ball moving around all day!

Let me know if you have any other tips I haven’t mentioned - nick@australiancricketinstitute.com

Author: Nick Fitzpatrick - Co-Founder & Coach at Australian Cricket Institute 

A really common question we get asked is…”What can I do at home to improve my batting.”

With the Christmas break just around the corner (or already underway for some players) we thought it’d be a great time to put together our top 8 things you can do at home to improve your batting.

Bat Tapping

Bat tapping drills are a great way to improve your hand eye coordination and also your control of the bat.

Make sure you have both hands on the handle, we often see players have one hand on the handle and one on the blade.

You can start really simple and scale it up to your ability.

A really common question we get asked is…”What can I do at home to improve my batting.”

Simple - As many taps in a row on the face of the bat.

Hard - Around the world.

Here’s a list of bat tapping drills you can do >> Download Bat Tapping Drills

Visualisation

Find a quiet place, close your eyes and picture yourself in different situations.

Scoring a hundred, getting through a tough patch of bowling, getting the best batsman out…

Try to make it feel as real as possible, what does it look, feel, sound like? What are you feeling?

Science has proven that the brain doesn’t know the difference between a real memory and a made up one so by visualising yourself doing well in certain scenarios - next time you’re actually in the situation you’ll feel like you’ve ‘been there, done that’.

If you want to learn more about visualisation, download: The Power Of Visualisation 

Back Yard Cricket

Get stuck in to some unstructured back yard cricket!

Tape up a tennis ball, put some rough on the pitch, play on grass so it turns.

Back yard cricket is a great way to develop certain skills while having fun.

Not enough back yard cricket happening around Aus!

Hand Eye Coordination Drills

Grab a couple of balls (tennis, bouncy, golf) and do some hand eye/focus drills.

There are a heap of little drills you can do so I’m not going to go through them all but here’s a couple…

  • Bouncing each ball on the ground alternately with one hand while walking.
  • Bounce the balls on a wall and catch alternately
  • Bounce the balls on a single focus point on the ground 

I’m sure you can use your imagination and come up with some challenging hand eye drills. 

They’re also a great warm up for batsmen.

Watch Cricket

How easy!

But when you watch cricket this summer, actively watch it.

Think “what would I do in that situation?”

“Why did they do that?”

Learn from the best players in the world, watch their technique, watch how they warm up, watch their game plans.

You can learn so much from them! That is why we developed the ACI Online Academy, so young players can learn from professional coaches and players.

You can check it out and grab a free 30 day trial here

Shadow Batting

Go through your range of shots with some shadow batting.

Either do it in front of a mirror or get someone to film you and check out your technique.

Great way to get visual feedback and also develop muscle memory.

Develop Batting Plans

You should have a clear batting plan for every type off bowler you might face.

Spend some time developing your plans and putting them down on paper.

One of the sessions we do with our academy players is getting them to draw a field and draw in their Go Zones (strengths, low risk shots) and No Go Zones (weaknesses, high risk shots) for every type of bowler.

Think about which way the ball is swinging/spinning, is it bouncing, what shots do the bowlers want you to play?

Strengthen Your Forearms

Strengthening any part of your body is going to help but there are some more important areas for batsmen and your forearms his one of them!

A simple exercise you can do to strengthen them is…

  • Lay a towel flat on the ground
  • Put your palms down on the end of the towel 
  • Keeping your palms on the ground, scrunch the towel towards you using only your fingers
  • Scrunch the whole towel then repeat!

Get stuck in and improve your batting over the break!

Authors: Nick Fitzpatrick & Joel Hamilton