Coaching Corner 3 - On drive
In Coaching Corner No 2, we looked at the forward defensive shot and the off-drive. This week, we’ll look at another drive off the front foot.
This is one of the most difficult shots in the game to play, the hallmark of a really good batsman and will need lots of practice.
It is played to a half-volley pitching on or just outside leg stump.
As with the off-drive, you must lead with the front shoulder and head. Beware! It is easy for the head to fall over towards the off-side. This will result in loss of balance and the bat being taken off the line of the stroke.
To prevent this, drop the front shoulder slightly leading into the stroke and don’t take a long stride. Make sure that you are not hitting the ball across the line in front of the front pad. The ball should be played in the direction of mid-on, not mid-wicket or square-leg.
Stand tall, keeping a stable base and keep your head over the point of contact. Don’t try to hit the ball too hard.
Practising the drives.
This shot, as with the off-drive, can be practised by hitting a still ball off a tee. (Tees are available at the club). Alternatively, practise with a “drop feed” or “bobble feed” with a partner. A tennis ball is ideal for this.
For the drop feed, the feeder drops the ball at arm’s length on the off-side from below eye level. The ball is struck as it bounces for the second time.
See photos for the feeds. The “bobble feed” should be from a distance of about 12 yards, with the ball bouncing about three times before arriving at the batsman on the half volley. Don’t use a hard ball! The feeder must always keep his or her eye on the ball – don’t turn away after releasing the ball.
The lofted drive.
So far, we have emphasised that it is important to keep the ball down to avoid being caught.
Lofted drives, whether they are off-drives, straight-drives or on-drives, should only be intended to hit the ball into gaps beyond the in-fielders. If you try to hit the ball over a boundary fielder, you are as good as giving your wicket away.
But if you do play the lofted drive to a full length ball, make sure that you follow the guidelines for the drives. The body weight remains slightly behind the point of contact and aim to hit the ball just short of the half volley, and make sure that your hands finish high. If you don’t go through with the shot, you will spoon it to a fielder. Keep your eyes and head steady and make sure that the bat comes down straight.
Because you are deliberately hitting the ball in the air, the shot is more risky than a shot along the ground, so it is best to play it when you have settled in to your innings rather than straightaway.