First of all, let’s establish what a drill is and why they’re an important part of your practice…

*Note* If you’ve read our batting drills blog you can skip the first two sections

WHAT IS A DRILL?

A drill is is a means of teaching or training through repeated exercise or repetition of an act.

A drill allows you to highlight a particular skill, decision, movement or mindset and perfect it by doing it over and over again in a controlled environment that gives you measurable feedback.

Among the many practice drills there can be productive repetition or unproductive, even harmful repetition.

Your ability to select the best drills to match your practice goals often determines the success or failure of your practice sessions.

THE VALUE OF DRILLS

Muscle memory is a critical part of achieving any sort of athletic success.

Throwing a ball, bowling it, hitting it, catching it and running properly are all skills that require freedom of movement. To perform these skills successfully, you must be able to react without having to carefully tell each muscle group what to do.

Muscle memory is the result of teaching the muscles how to perform a specific movement or skill and repeating that activity, through the use of controlled drills, until it can be done freely without methodical thought and your reactions become automatic.

Now that you’ve got a basic understanding of what drills are, why they’re such a valuable part of your training and how important choosing the right drills is…

Let’s have a look at 3 great drills you can use to improve 3 completely different areas of your batting.

At the ACI, we like to categorise our bowling drills into 5 different categories…

Bowling Prehab Drills
Remedial Drills
Execution Drills
Training Challenges
Swing Drills

In this article we’re going to introduce you to a Prehab Drill, Execution Drill and a Swing Drill.

DRILL 1: Prehab Drill - Med Ball Slams

Purpose

Med Ball slams have now become a staple part of any elite teams training program. They’re great to use in preseason as a progressive exercise that help strengthen your core and stabilising muscles and therefore reduce your risk of injury. They’re also great in season to use before training or a game as part of your warm up routine.

Equipment

You’ll need a medicine ball (weight will depend on your age/strength, see below for quick guide) and it’s also best performed with a partner.

10-12: 1kg
12-14: 2kg
14-17: 3kg
17+: 3-4kg

How To

This particular drill is performed as a routine or series of progressions.

Note for all slams: Whenever I talk about throwing the ball into the ground, it’s important to use your torso and core to generate the power, not just your arms. Try to keep your arms straight and not generate all the power using your arms.

1. Warm Up Med Ball Slam

Stand shoulder width apart holding the med ball above your head with straight arm. Twisting your torso, throw the ball into the ground on your left side, catch the ball on the bounce and repeat on the right side. Move from side to side for 30-60 seconds.

2. Double Leg Med Ball Slam

Stand shoulder width apart with you hands above your head. This time have your partner stand about 1m in front of you with the med ball. Have your partner throw the ball at your hands (which are stretched above your head). The ball should be still on the way up and with a bit of force behind it when it hits your hands. The aim here is for you to have to activate your muscles to stop the ball.

Once you’ve caught the ball, stopped it, balanced and activated your core, throw it into the ground in between you and your partner, trying to bounce the ball to them.

Repeat x 6

3. Single Leg Med Ball Slam - Back Leg

This time you’re going to repeat #2 but with only your back foot on the ground.

It’s important that in the single leg slams you align your foot the same as you land when you’re bowling, so for me it’s about 45% and also keep your other foot off the ground the whole time, even after you’ve thrown the ball. Hop around if you need to when you catch and throw the ball. Always make sure your balanced before throwing. This is all a part of what helps strengthen your stabilising muscles.

4. Single Leg Med Ball Slam - Front Foot

Repeat number 3 but with your front foot only on the ground.

DRILL 2: Execution Drill - The Yorker

Purpose

Execution drills work by taking away other distractions and allowing you to focus on one thing, executing that particular skill.

In this case it’s the yorker and different variations of the yorker.

Equipment

You’ll just need an empty net, stumps, ball and 3 targets (I like to use a shoe)

How To

Set up 3 targets just in front of the popping crease, around where you’d bowl a yorker. 1 cone outside off for a right hander, 1 cone outside off for a left hander and I like to use a shoe for the straight one to simulate a batsman's feet.

Remember: It’s important to practice bowling to left and right handers in all execution drills.

Bowl sets of 6 and see how many you can get to hit the target or get close. Make sure you call which one you’re going for before every ball, otherwise it doesn’t count.

It’s a good drill to do with a partner or group to create a bit of competition.

DRILL 3: Swing Drill - Swing Around The Stump

Purpose

This drill works by giving you a measurable target and result of whether you’re swinging the ball. It helps you understand where you need to start the ball to get the ball in a good area when it’s swinging.

Equipment

You’ll just need an empty net, stumps, single stump, new ball (or ball that swings).

How To

Set up the single stump about 5-6m in front of the stumps.

Note: Below set up instructions are for right hand bowler.

For Out Swinger: Set up the single stump on about 5th-6th stump line.
For In Swinger: Set up the single stump on about 4th-off stump line.

Your goal is to swing the ball around the stump.

If you’re bowling out swing you’ll be trying to pass the right side of the stump and hit or just miss off stump.

If you’re bowling in swing you’ll be trying to pass the left side of the stump and hit off stump.

For more on swing bowling visit our Swing Bowling Tips Article

If you would like our free fast bowling technique checklist, click the image below to download.

Author: Nick Fitzpatrick - Australian Cricket Institute Coach

Right before every big test series, the hottest topic at post training chats and dinner table discussion seems to be debate about who will and won't (or who should and shouldn't) play in the opening test.

Especially when embarking on a series such as India where different conditions can be cause for changes, even if the side was successful in it's last series as Australia was....

So a day out from the series opener against India, we thought it would be a good idea to spark some debate (orrrr is it..? ) and put down our Test 11 and why we'd select them!

Here goes nothing...we'd love to hear your opinion!

AUSTRALIAN CRICKET INSTITUTE'S INDIAN TEST 11

David Warner - No brainer really.. Warner will be vital to our batting line up which boasts some relatively new faces to the subcontinent. Need a big series for him for us to compete.

Matthew Renshaw - Big tall leftie has been topic of discussion for the lead up in the series.. Will he play? Won't he? We back the selector's to keep him in the side after almost becoming the second youngest player in history to score a double century. Be interesting to see if the sweep shot that he and Hayden have spoken about will come out to play. Big test.

Shaun Marsh- Great lead up form in the trial game and knows the conditions really well. Has great experience playing in India and has had good success over here at test and IPL level. After scoring runs in Australias last sub continent series, he looks set to play.

Steve Smith - No Brainer again, the leader of the pack. Good trial form also and will look to assert his dominance on the spinning wickets. A key player for Australia.

Peter Handscomb - Probably one of our best players of spin. Becoming a lock in the middle order after his great start to his test career. Will look to add grit and fight in the middle order when the ball is older and spinning/reversing. Has a simple game plan but his ability to stick to it and his mental toughness I think will keep him in the contest.

Mitch Marsh- Good performances in the trial with bat and ball. Will give relief to the quicks and hopefully chip in with some handy reverse swing. Needs to fire with the bat though.

Matthew Wade - Good batting performance in the trial, only keeper in the touring party apart from part timer Handscomb. Will look for some big batting performances to help out the top order. Crucial role with the gloves up and back to the stumps.

Mitchell Starc -LOCK. The spearhead, will be dangerous with pace and reverse swing with old ball. Hopefully his performances in Sri Lanka can continue on in India.

Josh Hazlewood - LOCK. Our other mainstay in the attack. Well rested and ready to go.

Nathan Lyon- The greatest spinner of all time for Australia...will come into his element here with turning wickets. Will be interesting to see how the big guns in India handle him, we think they'll be going really hard at him from the word go. Our success I think will be determined by Lyon and Starc's performances with the ball and how the others support them.

Mitchell Swepson - The third Mitch in the side! Might be a little left field, but I think the wrist spin offers something different to the finger spin of Lyon and also other's in waiting (O'Keefe and Agar). Right behind the young fella and hopefully if given the opportunity will relish it.

So there it is.. It will be interesting to see who get's the nod in the end. We'll be barracking for all who get selected none the less.

Will be interesting to see how we hold up against some of the best batsmen and spinners in the world in their own backyard.

Cheers!

Author: Joel Hamilton - ACI Coach

Knowing all the skills of the game is important, though it's understanding when and how to use them that is crucial to peak or maximum performance.

A lot of time in junior development is spent on implementing and refining the technical and skill aspects of the game, which are obviously core components in playing cricket.  But, if you were to do up a chart, pie graph, map or otherwise it becomes apparent that there are significant other elements that are important in becoming the best player they can.  These complimentary elements or skills are often hugely neglected in favour of skill and technical development.

Think of it this way…

Most domestic clubs train twice a week for up to 1.5 hours, with the majority of that time spent on batting and bowling in the nets with a little bit of fielding. Of that time spent in the nets, how often do we mimic real-life, game situations?

As a coach most of the time (junior and beginner age groups excepted) you have no control over what the player does on the field.

Can you stand next to little Johnny when the team is batting and needs 8 an over and tell him where to hit each ball?

Stand next to Sally when she is about to bowl her over and tell her where to bowl each ball in a tight finish to a game? No.

We need to make sure that kids are getting these learning outcomes from the get go.

Our role is to make sure that the environment we create allows the children learn from their successes and mistakes while giving vital input and asking questions so they are able to take in this information and digest it, but also self experiment and discover what works for them.

Here at the ACI we have come up with a checklist of the 5 most important area’s/changes that you can make to your game to ensure that you or your athletes can take the next step to unlocking a greater knowledge of their game, and how to be successful in any situation the game throws at them.

 

  1. Understand the Stage of the game you are in

At any Stage in cricket there's three stages each team can be in. Attack, Contain or Defend.Alternatively, call it Red light, Yellow Light, Green Light or Stage 1, 2, or 3..

 

(stages of play guide)

 

It is important to make sure you and your team mates/ children can identify where they're at in their game. Are you 3/12 batting and looking to score at 8 an over...? (probably not) or are you bowling and the team is 0/40 off 3?

Having an understanding of what stage the game is in will help you dictate the tempo of the game and will get you out of tough positions, or alternatively know when the best time is to take the game on and finish it off.

 

  1. Developing Clear Plans

Understanding your strengths and weaknesses as a player will help you develop game plans for all types of bowlers/batters and/or scenarios.
This ensures that when you are in a high pressure situation during a game, you already understand what you are trying to do/achieve and this makes you much more confident in your abilities and your ability to execute a clear plan.

In all ACI programs, we spend a lot of time on this aspect of the Tactical Awareness concept.

 

  1. Learning from your mistakes

An extremely important aspect. Every time you don’t succeed, make a mistake or don’t win a game/situation it is a great learning opportunity.

 

Consider what you did well, what you may have struggled with and identify areas in the game/performance that made the outcome what it was and find ways to rectify this so that the same mistakes and result do not happen again.

 

A great way to do this is self-reflection. Next time the situation or game doesn’t go so well ask yourself this..

“What did I do well?

What area did I struggle with and why?

What could I do differently next time?

How can I train to rectify this?”

 

Having this continual self-reflection gives you the ability to dissect things that you did and didn’t do well. Identify areas or situations/decisions that give you success, but also identify areas of weakness.
Continual self-reflection gives you the ability to then plan your training focuses going forward.  Rectifying any problem area’s in your game, but also identifying areas of strength and working both to continue your progression and ensure your consistency and performance continues to excel.

 

  1. Training with a purpose to make games easier

Ever heard the expression “Train Hard – Play Easy”?

 

The best way to continually improve your game awareness and develop your own strengths is to put yourself into situations through your training over a range of match style simulations and scenarios.

 

Too many players coast through a net or training session… Have no real purpose or goal they want to get out of their session. For example, batting in the easy net all the time, or bowling with a new ball every session for the whole season.

 

Ways to improve your skillset is to vary it throughout your training and create different challenges or competitions to simulate certain game scenarios.
Struggling to bowl at the death? Set your field, bowl with an old ball and do a 3-minute cardio exercise going in with some fatigue to see how you react and execute under some pressure and tired legs…

 

Or perhaps you may struggle to accumulate and score in the middle overs of the game? Set yourself a target for 3 overs to go at 7 an over. Have the bowlers set their fields, and play out this challenge. You are never going to really emulate the pressure of a game situation with everything on the line, but the closer you can relate your training to match-like scenarios the better.

 

The only way you will learn the craft is by doing it, self-reflecting (win or loss) and continuing to adjust accordingly.

 

 

  1. Follow in the path of those who have done it before.

Having mentors who have gone through it all before gives a great insight into their preparation and handling of certain situations or scenarios. Picking their brain, asking questions, hitting balls with them or even just playing on the same field all have something unique to offer.

 

Our junior academy programs give all members access to highly skilled coaches, mentors and industry experts who have all been involved in the game for many years and are accustomed to best practices and have the experience to take their game to the next level.

 

Surrounding yourself with people of knowledge and power entrust you with the necessary skills to create a smarter, more consistent, higher performing cricketer. Remember, skill only gets you so far, it’s knowing how to use these skills in the right time and correct stage of the game that will make you more successful.

 

All the best!

Author: Joel Hamilton - ACI Co Founder and Coach