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All a matter of alignment

Posted in ECB Coaches Association

Everyone at Middlesex is probably getting fed up with my over-use of the word ‘alignment’. Perhaps I need to get out a bit more, but as a coach it’s what I think about, and talk about, most.

For bowlers who get it wrong it is the root of all evils. For bowlers who get it right the world is their oyster.

In short, alignment is about tracing any issues with the action back to the approach (the run-up). Where you start, and the angle you approach the crease before delivering the ball, is crucial to the moment of release.

The other night I ‘entertained’ a crowd of coaches on the subject of ‘alignment’ for a couple of hours. They all booed, and walked out early. OK, it went down all right, which was a relief, because I’ll admit to the wrong audience this might not be the most riveting topic.

Correcting alignment is not a quick-fix solution, but what I have found is coaches tend to look at the action, rather than the run-up. It is all very well looking at what the front arm is doing, and the wrist position, the braced legs etc, but get the run-up right and often you will find the rest of the action takes care of itself and any issues are ironed out immediately.

So what am I looking for in a good approach? For front-on and mid-way bowlers it needs to be straight. Start wide and there is a danger a bowler will shut themselves off and bowl round themselves.

Richard Johnson

Richard in action in his playing days

One of the key Middlesex first team bowlers has been struggling to swing the ball back into a left hander and shape an away swinger. With a simple straightening of his approach he can now swing the ball at will both ways.

Like all the bowlers I’ve tried to get him running straight at the crease, and then straight through towards the target on and after release. I’ve been watching some of the spinners working recently, and exactly the same thing applies to them.

The only exception is classical side-on bowlers, of which there are few. They can start their approach a little wider without causing problems when they get to the crease.

If I could offer one bit of advice to bowling coaches at the moment it would be look at where they start their run. Is it in a straight line through the crease to the target, or is it angled.

Alignment. It’s pretty much all I’m talking about at the moment!

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