The Luke Wright tribute: How to get more bat speed in your cricket shots | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

The Luke Wright tribute: How to get more bat speed in your cricket shots

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wright.jpgEngland and Sussex cricketer Luke Wright is well known on the circuit for having 'fast hands' and a lightning blade. With a bit of practice you could build the same reputation in your club side.

If you have played cricket for any length of time you probably have a technique that you are comfortable with, but is it as effective as it could be at producing a fast bat?

Technique is a vital aspect, but if you are unable to produce a lot of force in a short amount of time you will never have the speed you want. Sports trainers call this subsection of power 'speed-strength' and it can be trained.

Generate force in the shortest amount of time

So how do we produce force quickly?

As a cricket coach I would look at technique first.

  • Do you have a high backswing?
  • Are you leaning into the shot?
  • Is your bat accelerating through the downswing?
  • Are you letting the top hand control the shot?
  • Are you rotating at your shoulders?

All these are important for maximum force production. That’s the basics of physics in action. For example, a high backswing allows a longer downswing and more time to produce power.

I would want to work on these things with a player first. While I was doing that I would follow make sure these techniques are built on solid training principles.

Mike Boyle approaches these principles on a joint by joint basis. This fits nicely with training for bat speed so let me adapt his approach:

Lower Body

The lower body is crucial for simple physics reasons again. The more force you can generate against the ground, the more power you can produce. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. However that reaction can be slowed down if you don’t transfer it efficiently through your body.

Efficiency is lost when your have to compensate for immobile ankles and hips. So working on mobility in these joints will speed up your bat. The knee as a ‘dumb joint’ (that is to say it just follows your ankle or hip) needs to simply be stable through normal strength training.

Spine (the core joints)

Traditionally cricketers have trained to rotate these muscles to produce power (think sit ups with twists). What they actually do is stabilise to transfer the power from the legs to the arms. So if you stabilise your lower back and core you are teaching your muscles to be more efficient and swing the bat faster. One of the best ways to do this is through training with a 2-3kg medicine ball and a brick wall. Here you can keep your spine stable while your arms and legs move quickly: A pattern that will cross over to your batting.

Your spine still needs to rotate either horizontally or vertically though. The more you can rotate the more torque you can produce. The rotation needs to happen further up at the t-spine (upper part of your spine). Boyle has some great t-spine mobility exercises that any cricketer can add to their warm up. Although we know little about what difference this makes to your bat speed it certainly can't do any harm to add these little tricks in.

The take home message with the spine is this: When you play any shot or exercise you must think about rotating at the shoulders rather than rotating the core.

Shoulder

While the upper spine is mobile (hence the feeling of turning at your shoulders), the shoulder itself needs to be stable. We are back to efficient transfer of power here the same as the core. Ironically, the best way to get your bat speed up is to work the shoulder in a slow way. Inverted rows work well as does some of the 'prehab' stuff you can see in the Boyle article.

Whole body

Finally it's important to put your newly efficient body through some whole body speed-strength movements. Research has shown that using heavier objects can alter your technique so it's better to focus on exercises that you can do at pace to teach your muscles to move fast. Power press ups, bodyweight lunges and squats are great examples of multi-joint movements you can do at speed.

How would this look in a training plan?

An example of a plan I use is a 2-3 day schedule lasting about 45 minutes per workout. Usually this type of workout is reserved for the off-season but can be done in season depending on your goals.

I would start with a 10 minute warm up focusing on ankle, upper spine and hip mobility. Following this would be 5-10 minutes of core work including shoulder stability exercises. You could also do some grip work here.

The main segment of the workout would contain: A two legged exercise like a squat or speed squat, a single leg exercise like the single leg squat or lunges, an upper body pulling exercise like the inverted row (not chin ups) and a pressing exercise like the rotation push up or power press up.

I finish with some high tempo medicine ball throws against a wall. A chest pass, squat throw and side pass are good options.

Always cool down and stretch. Foam rolling is also an option if time allows.

Nets would be on top of this once or twice a week It's quite possible to do these on exercises on the same day as nets.

No doubt Luke Wright doesn't go this far. He has most of this power transfer naturally, which is why his bat speed is so fast. Genetics play a big part but with practice like above you can certainly close the gap on him.

© Copyright miSport Holdings Ltd 2008

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Comments

This write up shows a poor understanding of batting mechanics. Batting is about coordination of the hands and feet. If the hands dominate the feet by focusing on hand speed, the results will be inconsistent. Footwork is very important. He has a poor first class record and this focus on his hands is a probable cause.

http://content-www.cricinfo.com/england/content/player/23460.html

I agree about coordination and footwork. Power comes from the ground up through a balanced position and efficient movements.

Are you saying I have suggested otherwise? If so I apologise for not being clear.

Also, which part do you feel is incorrect? I'm always looking to improve my understanding of biomechanics, movement, technique, coordination and mobility. You sound a knowledgeable person and I would love to get a deeper insight. Please contact me.

Oh and I chose Luke Wright as an example of a batsman with fast hands, not as a technically perfect player.

I think this article shows a good understanding of batting mechanics if you want to score lots of runs. And far more advanced than what the ECB teach coaches. It is also the way forward, in terms of what cricket traditionalists believe betting to be about. That is, blocking the ball the whole time.

I am doing a presentation on the baseball swing and how torque plays a vital role. Alot of unsuccessful hitters only utilize their hands and upper body while ignoring the potential the lower half has on producing bat speed through the kinetic energy chain. The more successful hitters generate lots of torque muscularskeletaly and on contact with the ball.

I am not ignoring the importance of feet movement when batting but when your facing Brett Lee at 90mph, you aint going to have time to move your feet. Watch Verinda Sewag (excuse my poor spelling)when he hits bounderies against top opposition such as South Africa, he hardly move his feet at all to the quicks.

if you are just going to discuss hands and feet then you are ignoring the rest of the body. It also depends on the context. If, for example, we are playing a forward deffensive shot then the role of the whole body on the shot becomes limited and the hands and feet become predominatly more important. If, however, we want to hit a six through long-on or deep mid-wicket then the baseball style hit, utilizing the whole body through angular motion becomes more important.

Luke Wrights so-called poor 1st class effort is probably more to do with shot selection and his mental approach. Kevin Pietersen, for example, can generate bat speed in a similar fashion to Luke Wright and you wouldn't say he has a poor 1st class record. He likes to hit the ball hard but to be successfull he has had to work on when to hit the ball hard. At that level I believe, once you have a proven technique, as Luke Wright obviously has, then its all about what goes on between the ears.

Ben Chambers, point to be noted is that cricket batting is about intercepting the bounce unlike baseball where the ball does not bounce?

I agree with Ben about 'between the ears'. I've been reading the excellent book 'The Winning Mindset', Luke Wright states in there that the techniques taught gave him more confidence at the crease and to 'hit the pitch' when bowling.I've found that deep seated self-belief on a subconscious level will overcome technical flaws. There are technically very correct batsman out of form all around the world. It seems to me getting self belief building tools are the way forward.

does this all really work? i mean i would be surprised if international players do all this or train for it etc....talent is the most important thing..instead of focusing on these aspects wouldn't facing bowlers and improve technique be better...i know the purpose of this article is to help explain and its not really saying that talent/technique is not important..

but i dont understand whether i should focus my time on this? lets take inzamam for example..or hayden..those guys are well built..but i dont think they will be having a flexible body...

Vish - I don't think it is a matter of focussing exclusively on this aspect of preparation, but if you have the time to build it into your training program it will bring benefits.
I know Hayden used yoga as a means of working his mind as well as increasing his flexibility - he also did a lot of weights and cardio work. It's all part of a total training program that a full-time professional player can undertake. He also spent a great deal of time looking at video of himself in an attempt to make his batting technically sound - and therefore efficient (ie. maximum force for effort)
As a young player, you won't have the time to spend on your game that a professinal does, so you will need to prioritise your time so that you are developing mentally, technically, physically and emotionally as a cricketer and as a person.
Hopefully this where we can help with suggestions and advice.
Just a word about the physics of 'The Swing'
To generate extra force you can either increase mass (put more of your body behind the ball) or acceleration (swing faster). I favour trying to put more mass behind the ball via getting the right hip and leg into the front foot shots as I feel it is a safer option than swinging harder - particularly for younger players who lack the strength and flexibility to swing hard and keep control of the shot. This engaging of the right hip and leg can be achieved by simply allowing your right heel to get off the ground as you contact the ball. Your right heel should finish above the toes on your right foot which remain in solid contact with the ground throughout the shot and follow through.
The cross bat shots have to be about bat speed because you can't put extra mass behind the ball in these shots.
I'll try and upload a few photographs at some stage to help illustrate my point.
So you need to work at developing good technique as well as strength, flexibility and sound thought processes if you want your game to continue to develop.
And it's best to realise now that working on each of these things will never change as long as you are playing the game. The only things that may change are the time you have available to devote to training and the emphasis you place on each of these elements of training. It never gets easy - that is the great challenge of the game!

Technique is number 1 yes. However, without a stable and mobile body you can't get the right technique. Inzamam and Hayden were both very stable and mobile. I hope you don't think I was talking about flexibility in that article - I was talking about stability and mobility.

So yes, it does actually work. Try it.

Yeah! People often see that a guy is strong, and think that that is the reason he can hit the ball so hard - and in a way it is. Strength allows the player to remain in control of his movements. A stable frame and a good range of movement allows a swing to be effective.
The harder you swing, the stronger you need to be to control the bat and your body movements. Stability and mobility can exist without strength but you have to swing a lot slower and rely on technique alone. That lack of physical strength can be very limiting.
The good news is that technique can be learnt while strength is being developed and the marriage of strength and technique leads to batting dominance!

Agreed John. If people doubt the importance of strength in cricket there is a simple test: Can men hit the ball further than women?

There's a reason why he's in the English cricket team, and your not. I recommend following the advice of someone who is successful in the game, and is willing to give tips and advice. Your being ignorant to this fact and biting the very hand that feeds you. This isn't meant to disrespect you and your opinions in any way, but to tell you that your ignorant to advice.

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