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The importance of good running between the wickets

Hamilton Masakadza run out in T20 World Cup

The farcical run out of Hamilton Masakadza in the World T20 opening match versus Hong Kong has shown all too well the importance of good running between the wickets even at the highest level.

As coaches we often don't place enough emphasis on running between the wickets in our training sessions. Get that right and really strong and all of a sudden your team can become really competitive even if technically they aren't the strongest yet.

I like to work on running between the wickets with players as young as under 9 and try to nip all bad habits, like the one above, in the bud as early as possible.

The key coaching points: -

  1. Strong backing up - being aware of the Mankad!

  2. Good, prompt, clear calling - if both batters are alert and the call is quick it will generally only take a good direct hit to run you out

  3. Run the first one quickly - to give you every chance of maximizing additional runs

  4. Turning the right way - one of the areas which senior players often fall down on! Always face the ball so you can see what's happening

  5. Keeping low on the turn - to maximise "spring" to potentially run back again and reduce the time of the run

  6. Running your bat in - stretching or even being prepared to dive if necessary, making sure the bat doesn't bounce up

  7. Look for overthrows - classic error is running the first one so fast that you follow through way past the stumps and don't look for where the ball has gone. Never rule out additional runs until the ball is dead

Mastering these points alone can easily gain your team 10-20 extra runs in a Twenty20 match potentially boosting your team score by 20% or more!

I like to run a drill with the coach bowling or feeding and batters needing to focus on the seven key points above. Any failure any ball by any batter and they are out! This often means being out without facing a ball (not backing up well or at all is the usual dismissal in this drill) and will probably cause a few tears initially but persevere and once mastered you have a well-drilled brilliant running team.

It is also good to time your batters taking a "three" to see if they can improve technique and shave seconds off of their time. This can be done two or three times a year. Makes for a great warm-up!

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