When we coach in the nets or a practice match, it is easy for some details to pass us by.
As a result, feedback can often turn into a series of isolated comments, as we move from mistake to mistake.
However, there are methods to pick up some key patterns later on….recording some simple data points! This can help your next session to be more targeted, around each player’s needs!
This is one of my favorite tools for batting coaching: the Impact Point Diagram.
How it works
Every ball faced by the batter is recorded, in terms of where it reached them (high/low; off-side/leg-side) and the kind of shot that was played.
I enter this manually, using a worksheet I created. using this, a coach is able to record:
- Impact points – which balls were played and in which way
- Pitch maps – where each ball pitched (circled balls = wickets or chances)
- Wagon wheels – where each ball was hit (over by over)
I mark the different shot types with symbols. Attacking shots with a solid dot, defensive shots with a circle, deflections with a plus sign, and misses/edges with an exclamation mark.
A completed batting sheet looks something like this!
To turn this data into an easy-to-read image, I replacing the symbols with colors.
BALLS MARKED IN GREEN = attacking shots
BALLS MARKED IN ORANGE = deflected shots
BALLS MARKED IN YELLOW = defended
BALLS MARKED IN RED = misses, edges or wickets
At the end of it all, here is an example of what you get!
What we can learn
By this time we have a complete picture of every ball faced.
Our first priority is to look for patterns in the data.
Trends in the data can be a good thing. For example, if you can see clear areas where the batter attacks, defends or uses the pace of the ball, it is a sign they have “organized” their game.
A pattern can also be a sign that the batter is aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Which balls they choose to block may vary, depending on their style of play.
Take the image above, for example. Judging by the distribution of attacking shots (green dots), this player prefers balls that are a) low, and b) off-side.
The biggest cluster of defended balls are stump high, and OUTSIDE LEG-STUMP. This is interesting, as the batter has chosen to defend many balls that are sliding comfortably down the leg-side.
Why might this be? To me, the most likely reasons are:
a) The batter is BACKING AWAY – and leg-side balls are “following” them
b) The batter is stuck on the crease – neither moving back for more time, or meeting the ball, to clip it away
c) Poor judgement – the batter believes these balls are hitting leg-stump
All of these may result in our batter being cramped for room. This means they are only able to fend these balls away, instead of looking to score around the field.
There can also be negative trends, for instance –
- Clusters of red dots – this highlights a definite weakness
The batter in this image shows signs of reading the ball well. There is clear distinction between which balls are defended and attacked. However, the picture does highlight a clear “weak zone” – full balls outside the off-stump!
Looking at this data, I would guess the batter is not moving fully into position for front foot shots. Balls that bounce at a comfortable height are punished, but balls slightly higher or lower aren’t always.
This is a very common junior batting flaw, and one to look out for. Young players are often unsure why they miss the ball, despite having “moved their feet”.
By practicing PRECISE movement the batter may be able to expand their “strong zone”. Or at least be in a better position to control the late-moving ball.
- placement of front foot
- bending front knee
- moving weight fully towards ball
No correlation is also a potentially negative sign. If there are a mixture of all colors in a particular area, this points towards an uncertain approach.
Young batters are often not sure whether to play, defend or leave. The key to this lies with the very basics – of WATCHING THE BALL.
Plenty of batters aren’t sure exactly where the stumps are at all. This fault can creep in at a surprisingly high level of the game.
This reflects in their shot selection. it can appear random.
OTHER COMMON PATTERNS: the “6 or bust” approach.
Another frequent flaw among young players, is that they are often going hard at the ball, or defending….with nothing in between.
They could convert a lot more balls into run-scoring shots, by using the pace. This is a crucial step between looking good in the nets, and scoring big runs in matches.
In this image (apart from in one area), there is a complete absence of deflected balls.
A mixture of reds and green dots is a sign that the batter is throwing their hands at the ball. Commonly happens when the ball is wide outside off-stump. Young players often prioritize a firm whack, over actually placing the ball.
In nets, it is worth pointing this out to your batters….balls that fly hard into the net may not be effective on the field, and flaws may be masked until its too late to change!