If you want to be successful as a cricketer, you really need to put in time to practice. The more you practice, the better you become. Thus, one way to squeeze out more time for practice is to practice cricket batting alone at home!
The easiest way to practice batting alone at home is to buy a cricket ball with a rope attached to it, and hang it in a relatively open space at home. Then, perform the hanging-ball drill. You can also practice cricket batting at home with a short-ball drill or shadow-batting drill.
Practicing batting at home as a cricketer is great as it will always give you an extra edge over your competition.
If you are short on time, then I would recommend you to buy this Hanging Cricket Ball (UK) on Amazon if you are in the UK, and jump directly to Point 2 below. (If you are from India, you can purchase this Handing Cricket Ball (IN) on Amazon)
There are a variety of ways to practice at home and improve or work on various aspects of your batting. While you must be familiar with the hanging ball drill, I am sure you will be amazed to know about the other drills. Let’s begin with Shadow Batting.
1. Shadow Batting – Practice the motion of a particular shot
This is as simple drill but it can be really helpful for a batsman; especially if you are starting with your cricket career. Let’s learn more about this exercise.
Prerequisites for Shadow Batting
You don’t really need anything to follow shadow batting. Optionally, you can use a cricket bat and stumps if you want.
What is Shadow Batting? How Does it Work?
Shadow batting is something you often see when a batsman gets out, as he tries to imitate the shot showing how the shot should have been played by him. Also, when a new batsman enters the field, he likes to free his arms, so he does shadow-batting before beginning his innings.
Shadow batting is basically to imitate a shot, such that you imagine a particular delivery being bowled at you and in response offer a particular shot with the right footwork, the bat swing, and the follow-through.
For instance, if you want to practice a straight drive by doing shadow batting, you can move the front foot forwards, bend the front knee, and swing the bat straight down in the direction of the bowler.
Doing it repeatedly makes you comfortable with the actions involved in the shot, and eventually brings fluency in your shot while actually batting. Also, practicing with a bat and in front of the stumps is slightly more advantageous.
Shadow batting is very convenient as you don’t need any equipment, but it is highly beneficial. Along with practicing or imitating a shot, with shadow batting you also visualize the ball or a game situation and train your brain to react to a specific delivery.
It also improves your shot selections. With shadow batting, you tend to focus more on your game plan, rather than reacting to the opponent’s game plan.
2. Playing with a Hanging Cricket Ball
This is another great drill that can help you improve you batting skills while alone at home.
Prerequisites for the Hanging Cricket Ball Drill
For this drill, you will need a cricket bat, a Hanging Cricket Ball (UK), and a hook to hang the ball and practice at home.
If you don’t want to spend money on buying a hanging cricket ball, you can also put a leather ball in a sock, tie a string on the open end of the sock and hang it from the hook.
How does the Hanging Cricket Ball Drill Work?
Playing with a ball wrapped in a sock and hanged using a string allows you to perfect your vertical bat shots. Alternately, some people drill the leather ball at the center, pass the string through it, tie a knot beneath, and then hang the drilled ball. By adjusting the height of the cord you can practice a variety of shots including the defensive ones.
While practicing with the hanging ball, first you swing the ball away, watch the ball carefully as it returns, and then try to hit it with a vertical bat. You need to trace the ball from above your eye line onto the blade of the bat before making the contact. This way it helps to improve your focus. Believe me, it is not as easy as you think.
3. Practice against the Wall
Another useful and easy to do exercise that can help you improve your batting alone at home is to practice against the wall. Let’s understand how to do this –
To practice against a wall, you need a cricket bat, a flat wall, a relatively flat surface to bat on, and a tennis ball or a wind ball. Optionally, you can practice in front of the cricket stumps along with a partner.
How to Practice Batting against a Wall?
This drill is quite simple, and basically requires no more than a bat and a ball.
All you need to do is throw the ball with your one hand (use your bottom hand as per your grip) onto the wall. As you throw the ball, quickly place your hand at the bat handle, and position yourself to hit the ball as if playing a shot.
To have a comfortable reaction time, ensure you are at least 2 or 3 meters away from the wall. You can use either an overarm or an underarm action, which will eventually decide the height at which you will face the ball.
Practicing with a partner will make the drill far convenient, as you don’t need to bother about switching your arm from a throwing position to a batting stance, and you will be more focused on the shots.
The partner needs to stay behind you, either on your left or right, and throw the ball while you are ready with your batting stance.
By varying the throwing style and position, you can easily practice a variety of shots. Throwing with an underarm action will ensure you receive the ball higher in the rebound, like a bouncer.
You can use overarm throw action to practice good-length deliveries. You can easily spend hours practicing this way, and see the great improvement in your reaction time and hence shots quality.
4. Practice Playing the Short Ball
So, this drill requires a bit of a support from another person. However, it is also quite effective when it comes to improving your batting skills against a short ball.
For practicing short balls, you need a cricket bat, a few balls (either tennis balls or wind balls, or leather cricket balls), and a partner (mandatory).
If you are using a leather cricket ball, you must wear a helmet and a pair of gloves.
A partner is mandatory here, to throw the ball towards you. Practicing in front of the stumps is optionally recommended. Practicing in the nets can be an added advantage here.
How to Practice Playing the Short Balls at Home?
Short balls are always tricky to play. If timed well, the batsman scores a six, though a slight misjudgment of the length can be disastrous.
Short balls, especially the ones rising about chest or shoulder level need to play or dodge with the utmost care, while the batsman needs to decide in splits of a second.
Even some of the greatest batsmen fail to play short balls with complete control. Hence, regular practice against short balls is always recommended by coaches and experts.
A batsman must practice attack and defense both, so he must be dodging a short ball, or going after it with a pull or a hook shot.
To perform this drill, you can ask your partner to throw balls from a distance of five meters from your batting position. He may kneel-down and throw the ball underarm, towards your upper body.
Ask him to start at a relatively slower pace, and then he can gradually increase the pace as per your comfort level. With this, you can duck the ball, or sway out of the way of the ball, or even play an attacking shot.
Repetitive throw-ball practice will eventually make you comfortable against short balls, and you can play them better even if the bounce is sharp and sudden.
5. Drill to Improve your Hand-Eye Coordination
This drill is a simple but significant exercise to improve your hand-eye coordination. You can easily perform this drill at home without much help from others.
For this drill, you need a single cricket stump, a ball (tennis ball, wind ball, or a golf ball). A partner is not mandatory here, but it could be helpful to have one. Optionally you can use a wall that can bounce the ball off, and a set of stumps.
How does the Drill Work?
From Sir Don Bradman to modern era cricketers like AB de Villiers follow this drill before the match.
In this drill, you need to throw and bounce the ball off the wall, try to strike it with a stump, and as it returns.
Generally with a regular size bat and, you can almost always hit the ball, but smaller size ball (a wind or a golf ball), and narrower hitting equipment like a stump make it a bit challenging but quite useful in improving your hand-eye coordination.
The video above showcases how Sir Don Bradman used this drill to improve his batting and the hand-eye coordination.
6. Practicing the Drive Shots
This is a perfect drill to improve your drive shots such as straight drive.
You would need a cricket bat, a set of small Batting Tee Cones as shown in the image below, a set of balls for this drill.
How to Perform this Drill?
With the ball on the top of tee cones, place three cones in the front, the first one straight in the line of middle stump, the second one at its left, and the third cone at the right.
The distance and the angle between you and the cones should be such that you should be able to play the straight drive, on drive, and cover drive shots.
Now take the batting stance and try to step forward and play the drive shots with the right technique and desired footwork. Pick one cone and hence one drive shot at a time.
Get your front foot closer to the ball with the knee bent, remain comfortably balanced. Ensure your front leg leaves enough room for your bat movement while striking the ball placed at the top of the cone.
Your head should lean over your front knee while the heel of your back foot should be slightly raised. Repeat this exercise as much time as possible to perfect your footwork.
Here’s the ultimate guide on how to play drive shots, and all the other shots in the book of cricket.
7. Practice all your Shots against Throw-balls
For this activity, you need a cricket bat, a set of balls (tennis balls or wind balls, or leather cricket balls), a partner, and a flat and open space. If you are using leather balls, then you would need protective equipment as well. A set of stumps and net could be optionally used.
How Does this Drill Work?
This is similar to the short balls drill we saw earlier in this article, the difference here is that you need to practice all sorts of shots as the partner throws the balls at you from a distance.
The throwing distance could be the same as the length of a cricket pitch or slightly less than that. The advantage of this drill is that you don’t need a skilled bowler.
All you need is a ball thrown at you with varied pace and bounce. The partner can throw with an underarm action to start with, and once you are comfortable he can increase the speed or switch to the overarm.
You can start practicing the full-length balls first, and then ask the partner to gradually shorten the length. Practicing in the nets and in front of the stumps could be more helpful and efficient.
8. Power-hitting Drills
For the power-hitting drill, you would need a cricket bat, a set of balls (tennis balls are recommended), and a flat surface to practice on. Practicing in nets could be more convenient. Optionally you can practice with a partner.
How Does the Drill Work?
In limited over games, especially Twenty-20, it is always expected to score quickly, and for that professional players often focus on practicing power-hitting. This is how it works:
Step 1: Find a flat and open area, and get ready for the practice with your equipment as mentioned in the prerequisites section.
Step 2: Hold the cricket bat with your non-dominant hand (top hand as per the batting grip i.e. left hand for a right-hander and vice versa), and keep a ball in the other hand.
Step 3: Toss the ball up in the air, such that it bounces a few feet away. The throw should not be too high.
Step 4: Swiftly place your top hand on the bat and get ready with your cricket stance, as you watch the ball to bounce.
Step 5: Step forward towards the pitch of the ball as the ball dips and bounces.
Step 6: Hit the ball powerfully (after the bounce). You can go for lofted shots, grounded powerful shots, or slog sweeps.
It will be very efficient to practice in the nets, as retrieving the balls becomes that much easy. Alternately, you can practice with a partner who could either throw the ball at you or act as a fielder to help you out in the process.
9. Drill for Stepping Down the Wicket
This drill will help you improve your footwork especially when you plan to play the spin bowlers.
For the power-hitting drill, you would need a cricket bat, a set of balls (tennis balls are recommended), a flat surface to practice on, and a partner to help you with this drill.
How Does the Drill Work?
This drill will help you to get used to the swift movements required in advancing down the crease to play attacking shots.
First and foremost, you need to have a lighter stance and remain mentally prepared for the forward movements. Ask your partner to stay at a distance of 3-4 meters from your batting spot, with a ball in his outstretched arm.
The partner just needs to drop the ball and move away. You need to start a forward movement towards the ball before it bounces, and play a shot after the bounce. Even though you are stepping down, your head and eyes should be at the same level, and try to look at the ball till the last moment.
This is a very helpful drill, especially for amateur players. Once you are comfortable with stepping down and hitting the ball, you can ask your partner to throw the ball at you or go for the overarm bowling at full pace.
10. A Few Other Helpful Videos for Self-learning
Learning never stops in cricket, and a learner never stops at anything. Why not look at a few videos to see how to practice batting alone or with minimal equipment to improve the game? Let’s begin with the first video from none other than Sir Don Bradman.
What separates a great batsman from the rest is the dedication, hard work, and the amount and methods of practice. Instead of waiting for the official practice sessions before the tournament, great batsmen usually work on the batting technique and the game plan well in advance, even when they are at home.
That said, a newbie in cricket can also improve his batting by putting additional practice hours right at home. You can practice with a single stump and a ball, or even without a single piece of equipment as we have seen in the case of shadow batting.
Batting practice in cricket is not bound by place or equipment. If you are ready to put in hard work by performing all the batting drills mentioned here, nothing can stop you.