Since Twenty20 began, the rate of six hitting has risen by 20%.The trend for power hitting in unmistakable.
How do you get in on this rope clearing action?
Sixes are not just for the pros. Even the smallest youngster can improve power. Here are a few ways.
The first thing to remember is everyone is different. Some players take more time to work out the big shots than others.
It helps if you are naturally bigger and stronger of course, but there are plenty of example of smaller cricketers who use timing and technique to clear the rope.
So, never despair, you will get there with the right amount of work, determination and patience.
Strengthen your base
Whatever your base strength, it helps tremendously to put more power into your swing.
Naturally, technique is crucial because power without efficiency is useless. That said, efficiency without power is much harder to get right. Both combined is a superb recipe.
So what kind of strength training should you do for power hitting?
- Get relatively strong in base exercise movements: squatting, hip hinge, pushing and pulling.
- Transfer this base of strength into power with medicine ball throws.
Naturally, you can get stronger without doing this. There are plenty of ways - the easiest being to have naturally strong and big parents - but this is the most effective method when done consistently.
Find your range
While you are hitting the gym (or doing a few press ups), you can also find out about your hitting power with some range hitting.
So, get out of nets and try and hit some sixes in different areas from gentle throws from the coach or a team mate. Try hitting straight as well as on the leg side.
This takes some guts if you are still learning. You might mess it up totally and look a fool. You might hit it as hard as you can and it is nowhere near a six. You might do this for several sessions. It's frustrating and inconsistent. You will want to give up and call yourself a stylish touch player instead.
But if you are serious about sixes, you can't leave it to chance and luck - especially if you are naturally smaller than big hitting guys - so keep at it.
It's going back to that point about determination. Those that make the difference are those that keep at it until they find a way. Life, and cricket, is not easy. But it's worth it in the long run!
Develop your technique
However well you did when you tried hitting, you can improve with some technical work.
The best way to do this is through trial and error. Power hitting is different from traditional batting. you have to learn a new way that is mainly based on getting speed into the hands by using your body. Try and find something that works for you as different people work in different ways. That said, there are some things that tend to work for most:
- Hit from a balanced position with head still. Ideally, both feet are on the ground.
- Drive your back hip through first, then the hands follow.
- Aim to make contact earlier than you would if you were timing the ball along the ground.
A common mistake is to play traditional cricket shots but try to hit the ball harder. You end up losing balance and body shape. Any power you have gets lost and you end up swinging hard with no real method. Avoid this.
Work on ways to use your body to get maximum power into your hand speed (how fast your hands holding the bat move through the swing).
If you want more details, coaches like Julian Wood can coach you. he does a great job with the pros. But honestly, you can do most of the work yourself with experimentation and a growth mindset.
Look for the rope
If determination, strength and technique come first, the final piece of the jigsaw is intent.
The biggest reason the six percentage has grown in pro cricket is that guys are going for it more often. They don't fear failure because they know where and how to hit the ball. They can clear the ropes by so much it doesn't matter about fielders.
You can take this attitude with a slight variation depending on your game. You can still hit with intent, but you can look to clear the infield. A good tip is to aim for a one bounce four over the head of someone fielding in the ring. If you miss hit that you will probably get away with it. If you get it out of the middle, it's six.
The point is this: whatever trick, method or technique you use is fine if it gets the ball over the rope.
More important is the mentality you bring to it: Never give up, work harder and smarter and be prepared to go for it. It's the only way to develop your long game.