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Fielding Tips: How to Form Long Barriers

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Outfielding in cricket

An England player ready to form a long barrier

www.flickr.com user billmcintyre

The long barrier is an effective way of blocking the ball with your legs in the field. It's a very useful skill in cricket, especially for new players. There's nothing more embarrassing than letting a ball run through your legs and giving away extra runs as a result.

Knowing how to perform a long barrier is an especially useful skill in the outfield, where any mistake can lead to conceding four runs.

Here's how to avoid those harsh stares from your teammates and your coach.

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Five minutes

Here's How:

  1. Approach the ball as fast as you are comfortable. The sooner you can cut the ball off in the field, the less time the batsmen have to run.

    If you're not confident running in hard, just walk in a few paces as it rolls across the turf towards you. The most important thing is to stop the ball cleanly and throw it back, so focus on getting that part right before worrying too much about your approach.

    Sometimes, of course, the shot will have been struck so well that you don't have any time to move toward the ball. In that case, just prepare to get in position.

  2. Decide which leg will form the bulk of your long barrier. If you're more confident with one leg than the other, stick with it. However, it's good to practice both so you have an extra option on the field.

  3. Get into position. Turn both your feet so that they are side-on to the oncoming ball, then bend one knee until it touches the ground directly behind your anchor (front) foot.

    Your barrier leg should be laid flat along the ground -- and that includes the barrier (back) foot. Press the top of the barrier foot into the turf, with the toes pointing directly backwards in a line from the anchor foot.

  4. Use your whole body. Now that you're in long barrier position, it's important to remember that the ball could jump up off a bump in the turf. To be sure that it doesn't pass you, get as much of your body behind it as possible.

  5. Catch the ball with both hands. This is the best way to quickly get it under control.

  6. Get up and throw. There's no time to waste -- now that you've got the ball safely in your hands, get to your feet as quickly as possible and throw it back to the bowler or wicketkeeper.

Tips:

  1. Don't go down too early. Just as a soccer goalkeeper should not drop to the ground too early, neither should a cricket fielder. Going down into the long barrier position too soon poses the risk of being out of position when the ball finally reaches you, and it's very difficult to make quick adjustments when you're already on the ground.

    Instead, wait until the ball is about ten metres away before getting down into the long barrier.

  2. Keep your eyes on the ball. It's a basic part of any ball sport, but even the best players have to remind themselves of this. Don't let yourself be distracted by anything else.

  3. Be careful not to leave any gaps. Push that back knee firmly up against your anchor foot so there's no space for the ball to escape through.

    Just as importantly, keep your barrier leg and foot pushed down into the grass. After such careful preparation, you really don't want to see the ball slip straight under your body.

  4. Throw to the right end. In most cases, one end of the wicket is a better option for your throw than the other. Advanced fielders will be able to recognise which end offers the best run out opportunity, or whether one end has nobody to receive the ball.

    With time, and plenty of long barrier practice, you'll become an expert at stopping the ball AND at throwing it where it's most useful.

What You Need

  • A cricket or tennis ball

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