Until yesterday, I had never coached anyone to play a switch hit. That run is over, so I thought I would explain it a little.
Coaching club players means "fancy" shots are a long way down the list compared with building a serviceable drive, cut and pull. The switch hit is the most fancy of them all. Created by KP, who is king of show-off batsmen, the shot is risky and has a low pay off because you hit the ball into a well covered area.
So why did I coach it today?
It was a hunch.
The batsman in question is very right handed, using his right hand for most of his control over shots, and looks like he tracks the ball with his right eye. He ends up squaring up a lot in his drives, but still hits the ball well from an open position, even through the off side.
Purists might criticise his batting for this, but I didn't want to break his natural inclination, so focused on getting him to align his body to the right line and focus on stepping forward so his weight transferred into the ball.
In other words, I left alone his tendency to stay open.
One session in passing I said that if I was coaching him as a kid I would try him batting left handed as his dominant hand and eye would be on the other side and he could hit the ball better. We laughed at the thought and moved on.
Then I realised something.
It might be too late to teach him left handed batting, but why not try some left handed shots?
The easy swipe of the switch hit seemed like the obvious thing to try.
And so, as it was out last session before a break we tried it!
Here's what we did:
- 30 minute of working on right handed footwork with drills and sidearm
- 10 minutes of underarms with him batting left handed and trying the switch hit, sweep left handed and drive left handed.
- 20 minutes of switch hitting against the bowling machine at 47 mph on a good length.
It went well. He nailed the switch hit, the left handed sweep and a left handed cover drive with no issues against underarms. That was a good start considering he's never batted left handed before and is self confessed "not very good" at pulling or sweeping.
On the machine, he was hitting 8 from 10 well almost right away.
We made a slight change to how he changed position (early hand switch first then spin round to bat left handed) and his timing improved too.
Then I found a weak point, aiming the ball slightly fuller at off stump. He struggled more to make a good contact.
It was certainly an experiment where I was learning as much as he was, we got a lot from the session:
1. He is reliably decent left handed.
2. He's is a naturally defensive batsman and this gives him another surprise attacking option.
3. It demonstrates how his right hand controls the shot.
4. It gives him the lead in working out the best way to do it, but I am there to guide with drills and suggestions.
Also we had fun!
Will he ever use it in a game? It's too early to say. It takes a lot of guts and self-confidence as a batsman to reel out a shot like that. If you get it wrong in a game you would look a fool. And he is not most confident player ever anyway.
I think he has the potential to use at least the switch hit and perhaps the left handed sweep in a real game. He just needs a bit more work to feel consistent.
But even if he never uses it, I'm trying to establish in him that he can play attacking cricket and have confidence in his technique to play shots reliably. If he feels he can switch hit he will feel like a genius and that will leak into other parts of his game.
That's my plan, anyway!