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Thread: Keeping Dhoni Style

  1. #1
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    Keeping Dhoni Style

    As a wicketkeeper, I am in awe of the way Dhoni pulls off his trademark lightning stumpings and have been trying to find a way to emulate his method of catching the ball without the traditional "give" all textbooks advise.

    However, I’ve experimented with "soft hands" vs. "strong hands" and "open" gloves vs. “cupped" gloves but can't find a reliable technique for taking the ball cleanly (mostly the ball bounces out of my gloves when I try this).

    From a technical point of view, do you think it is possible to learn this method and if so how would you go about it?
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  2. #2
    Cricket Web Staff Member / Global Moderator Neil Pickup's Avatar
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    That's a great question and one that's certainly given me a good bit of food for thought as a keeper and coach myself. It is probably the aspect of my (limited club level) keeping that is strongest, but even so it's quite hard to express what it is technically that allows this to work well.

    I am very keen on strong hands with keepers and fielders, linked in from a strong Z position with a flat back, and head over the (wide, open) catching area (well it should be wide and open but I don't think mine ever quite looks like what I tell the U11s it should look like). This ensures that your weight is on the balls of your feet and sufficiently balanced for the body to not want to rock backwards/give backwards when you take the ball.

    It's really difficult to put into words the process that follows in terms of your glovework: I think the easiest way to think about it is to consider the tension on your thumbs, lower palms and wrists when you open the catching area, and just relax that, letting your hands shut almost like a venus fly trap on the ball. At the same time, you're keeping the lower arms pretty strong/tensed, rather than "giving", and shifting your weight almost imperceptibly *towards* the ball and the stumps before it gets to your gloves. This latter weight transfer usually leads to kids closing their gloves too early and the bounce-out: I imagine it's very difficult to separate the relaxation of the carpal tendons (I think) and the sustained tension of the forearms.

    I usually use an app like Coach's Eye to record the time delay between ball in gloves and ball to stumps, and set it up as a challenge with a side-by-side split screen between my demo and the player, highlighting catching area and glove direction at the moment of the impact. Definitely possible to make significant improvements as I've seen it in lots of keepers I've coached.
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    Thanks for the insight Neil!

    Just out of interest, what are your thoughts on using the Z position to keep on wickets with variable bounce? I play a relatively low standard of cricket so it is quite common for one ball to shoot along the deck and the next to zip around your ears, both off a "good" length. Would you adopt a lower, wider Z position your gloves starting on the floor to come up with the bounce? Or would you practise "getting down" to the balls that die on you from a regular Z position where your gloves start off the ground?
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    Cricket Web Staff Member / Global Moderator Neil Pickup's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by djg91 View Post
    Thanks for the insight Neil!

    Just out of interest, what are your thoughts on using the Z position to keep on wickets with variable bounce? I play a relatively low standard of cricket so it is quite common for one ball to shoot along the deck and the next to zip around your ears, both off a "good" length. Would you adopt a lower, wider Z position your gloves starting on the floor to come up with the bounce? Or would you practise "getting down" to the balls that die on you from a regular Z position where your gloves start off the ground?
    I know that problem all too well...

    Assuming we're talking about standing up here, I have usually gone with gloves on the ground and backing myself to get up and cover/wear the one that gets the extra bounce. We were lucky enough to have Paul Nixon come down to Oxford a few weeks back to deliver a specialist WK session to the keepers in the Oxfordshire junior system, and he spoke about trying to gauge the typical bounce of a pitch and setting with your gloves at that expected height rather than starting on the ground - a bit of a sea-change to received wisdom and orthodoxy but, I thought, quite logical when you considered it. That then lets you cover the extra bounce more easily and jam your pads together on the shooters. I suppose it's probably a case of whether you expect more low or high bounce, and whether you're better going up or getting down.
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    I am not too sure if I can explain all the physiology behind how you can do this but I do keep wickets whenever I play cricket and I generally manage to take the balls off spinners without much give. I think what usually helped me was that we played a lot with a hard tennis ball (the red ones here in India and in the US as well, where I stayed for a couple of years) and I often kept without gloves. Most of the other keepers used gloves, at least the big outer ones but I kept with no gloves and it helped me take balls without the give. Then when we did play with a proper cricket ball and I had gloves, it was still a natural thing for me to take the balls without the give, and actually a bit easier as I now had the cushioning of both the inner and outer gloves.
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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend honestbharani's Avatar
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    Let me know if trying to keep with hard tennis balls and bare hands helps you reduce the give, dig91 I am curious if I have stumbled upon some coaching technique for keepers.



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