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Bruce Topping Coaches Wicket-keeping at Laurelvale CC

Wesley Best

Bruce Topping Stumping Chance (© Donaghcloney CC)Having identified a shortage of young wicket-keepers at Laurelvale Cricket Club, as well as a lack of in-house coaching expertise in this area, ex-player Bruce Topping was contacted and asked to help out.

Bruce has a wealth of personal experience in wicket-keeping as one of the leading keeper/batsmen in the premier league with Lisburn in the 1990s and was an uncapped member of the Irish cricket squad. Bruce is also an ex Irish badminton international and has innovative ideas on improving keepers' footwork, agility, balance and flexibility borrowing from and adapting badminton footwork drills and training techniques.

In addition, Bruce has spent much time researching modern wicket-keeping coaching techniques and has therefore been able to plan a series of sessions covering all aspects of wicket-keeping.

Two ninety minute sessions were delivered starting from basic principles and incorporating skills key to catching, standing back, standing up, run-outs and diving.

Drills to improve foot speed, flexibility and agility were also introduced.

Players were encouraged to 'give it a go' and a wide range of ages and abilities was evident in those who took part. As well as providing expert coaching the sessions were useful as a talent spotting exercise and some players who previously had not considered wicket-keeping have now decided to take it up.

All who attended thoroughly enjoyed themselves and improvements in performance was evident over the course of the sessions.

Three qualified coaches from Laurelvale helped out and observed with a view to building on the foundations provided by Bruce.

The use of coaches from other clubs to provide specialist coaching sessions could be a useful approach for clubs without the means to employ a full-time professional. Laurelvale hope to invite other local coaches to deliver specific bowling, batting and fielding sessions at the club in the near future.