Many batsmen and women would agree that if you want to succeed out in the middle you need to have a technique that allows you to defend and deal with the good balls and you need to be able to attack and score runs when the opportunity arises. You also need to be able to keep the bowlers and fielders under pressure and you need to have the fitness levels and concentration levels in order to be able to sustain these aspects of your game for long periods of time.
Keeping the fielding side under pressure involves a number of key skills. These include running well between the wickets, being able to place shots wide of the field, and hitting the ball hard.
We recently quizzed twenty coaches about the processes they use to teach and train batters to perform at their best out in the middle where it matters most. Most of the twenty mentioned technique development and running between wickets but surprisingly none of the twenty mentioned shot placement, fitness and mental conditioned or hitting the ball hard.
Running between the wickets and placing shots wide of fielders are key skills that should be developed in net sessions and in training drills out in the middle. Some might say that you do not run during net sessions but top-line coaches should insist on it. Particularly at the elite level. Net sessions can be used to teach players how to place shots and how to use soft hand drills to kill the moving ball and run the single that is made available because the field is not set for it and the fielders are not expecting it. If you are not using these drills in your net sessions then why not start? Coaches and players can use the drill to record factors such as speed between wickets, turning times, and turning points (the point where players touch the bat on the crease line). Coaches can use cones or small flat bowler’s discs to set placement markers along the net line and record the number of effective shots placed between the markers.
Hitting the ball hard is probably the most misunderstood skill in the game. What does it mean to hit the ball hard? Does it mean you need to swing the bat faster or time the shot better or get the weight distribution and balance right?
In truth, all of these aspects play a part.
In Perth, Western Australia the people at Force Train Better have developed a testing unit which we use to test all cricket gear. This includes testing equipment for testing cricket bat rebound ratings, cricket bat symmetry, friction ratings for batting gloves, impact ratings for helmets, thigh guards, pads, arm guards, keeper gloves and batting gloves. We also can now test bat swing speeds for each of the shot types used in batting. We believe it to be the only testing facility of its kind in the world.
Using the data gained from various tests we have also been able to generate real-time data on the effects of bat swing speed and its effect on ball speed (from the bat) and even the potential outcomes that are potentially available when a ball is hit faster through the field or in the air over the field toward the boundary.
The information gained is extremely enlightening and it clearly determines that bat swing speed and the speed of ball travel off the bat have a substantial effect on team and individual scores. Anyone wanting to know more about this research and the studies is welcome to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Force Train Better has developed a range of Training Bats that are designed to improve a players bat swing speed outputs as well as greatly improving bat control which in turn helps with technique development because the stronger you are in all the key muscle groups the easier it will be to achieve the correct positioning of your bat and body through shot play. The T2, T4, and T6 weighted bats also develop a player’s game in the area of footwork and balance. This is because the added weight in the bat (+20% +40% and +60% respectively) means that to swing the bat the feet “MUST” be grounded otherwise these bats literally pull you off balance. Improved outputs in these key areas will in turn greatly enhance and improve a player’s ability to time the ball better.
So if you are swinging the bat faster and your feet are moving better and you have better balance and timing you are in the right zone to be getting bigger scores.
As well as the standard match type bats Force Train Better has also developed the TS and the TS2 hand-eye coordination bats. Standard weight hand-eye coordination bats are a lot lighter than a match bat and as such give misleading signals to players learning with them. Unless you are a youngster learning the correct technique why use an underweight product when a full match weight and a +20% option are available?
With the introduction of products such as Bat Sense and Smash Factor (used in the recent test series in Australia) players and coaches have the opportunity to derive data relating to bat swing speeds and as such, they now can look to develop ways to improve bat swing speeds and work on developing cricketers that have maximized their abilities in this aspect of their game.
Force Train Better working in association with one of the world’s leading batting coaches Julian Wood of England are creating new frontiers in the area of player development and developing players capable of being successful in all forms of the game particularly T20 Cricket. Julian’s Power Hitting Programs which incorporates the use of all Force Training Bats are now being used by national and provincial squads all over the world.
So if it is good enough for players that play at the elite level then surely any young aspiring player whether male or female should be looking to bring these methods and products into their training and development programs.