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Coaching | Development

Attack or defend? What to teach first

When coaching or teaching someone how to bat, many coaches differ on the philosophy of attacking the ball or ensuring your defense is solid. Now both are needed at the end of the day, but which to focus on first…

Traditional England says the forward defense is the very first shot you teach, where as innovative Australia teach their children to hit the ball hard first. Working with some of the best coaches in the country I can tell you that the debate rages on. However, I am an advocate on teaching attack first. when you are playing with your preschooler be sure to encourage hitting the ball hard. and here are some of my reasons:

The game is changing

Cricket has changed from an exclusive 5 day affair to a variety of formats, being ODI’s and T20’s. The game is seemingly showcasing less test cricket and more of the explosive formats. As a result even the test match format is played at a much faster rate than it used to be played. 

The mental framework

An athlete that focuses on hitting the ball hard, will mostly have more fun which builds greater amounts of positive association when playing – which is great. An athlete will also develop quick twitch fibres or condition their body for rapid or quick movements which is helpful for any sport later on, in essence faster gross & fine motor skills development. An athlete will build confidence faster being in a state of looking to score runs. An athlete will develop the ability to problem solve faster as well, the ability to plan and structure their innings around what they can attack and what they should defend will empower their ability long term. Finally as development goes, would you prefer your preschooler to develop into an adult that lives in survival mode or an adult that is looking to exploit opportunities that will bring him more reward in life?

The end result

At the end of the day, the batsman’s mission is to score runs, not to stay in. Understanding the difference is vital for greater team and individual performance later on. The irony is that batsmans looking to stay in, don’t statistically bat longer and they end up scoring less runs at a slower rate, putting their team under greater pressure. where as batsman looking to score are quicker off their feet, more strategic, better equipped and planned and bat for as long… the difference is they put a lot more runs on the board before they go out. and if you are unsure about this, look at the leading runs scorers of all time, the batting legends over the past 100 years, more of them were attacking minded anyway.

Teach your preschooler to attack the ball first, teach them to get into optimal positions to score runs, and if they feel that they can’t, then defend. It is much easier teaching an attacking player to tighten up his or her defense than it is teaching a defense player to attack the ball. Also, remember that when they arrive at primary school and start playing with hard ball, the changes are that fielders will drop more than they catch and especially if hit hard.

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