What is the kinetic chain, and what has it got to do with cricket?
In the coaching world, we often talk about the kinetic chain. It's a good shorthand term for a something that can get complex, especially when we discuss how to improve your bowling action. So, this article will give you a quick idea.
The kinetic chain is a sequence of movements, performed to do a skill.
In cricket terms, you can point to the 4 tent pegs as a perfect example of a kinetic chain. Each tent peg moves from one to the next in a smooth flowing motion, the first one setting off a chain of event that end up with you sending the ball down at maxium pace.
But kinetic chains are not just for fast bowlers. The spin bowling action is a kinetic chain, so is throwing, so is playing a drive. All cricket skills that involve a sequence of movements are chained. That's why you sometimes hear the phrase "chaining" when it comes to coaches breaking down a skill into individual parts to teach it.
Why the kinetic chain is important?
If you want to improve your technique, it's critical to know about the kinetic chain. That's because every step in the chain has an influence on each subsequent step.
So, a technical flaw that looks like one thing, can go back to something totally different further back in the sequence.
A classic example is "falling away" or "lateral flexion" when fast bowling. This is where your head leans to the off side (right handed bowler and batsman), you lose accuracy and often pace. It's also an injury risk. Although the fault appears as you bowl, the cause can be as far back as the run up. Many bowlers run up straight then at the last moment before jumping, step across towards the stumps, sending their weight down the leg side. This leads the head to go the other way to compensate.
If you stamp out the kink in the run up, the flaw vanishes and the bowler's head returns to a better position later in the action.
Coaches will often refer to these flaws as energy leaks. This is also simpler than it sounds. For example, bowling fast requires you to put as much energy into the ball as possible. This is generated by your body. If the energy from your legs and hips is prevented from getting into the ball, you can't bowl as fast. There is a leak of energy that isn't getting to where you want it. You will hear phrases like "blocked off" to describe these energy leaks.
You can also optimise your kinetic chain skills, rather than just correct errors.
Mark Garaway in his online course, First Class Fielding, has a section on technical changes you can make with throwing to improve your power and accuracy. These are different movements from traditional throwing skills. They improve the efficiency of your kinetic chain and make your throwing better.
So, knowing about the kinetic chain is useful. Understanding that cricket skills are a chain of movements will help you improve your technique. You don't need to become a biomechanist to benefit from the term.