PitchVision Academy has seen a new study that reveals the importance of bat speed on the success of your performance as a batsman. If true, this could change the way you train.
The study - undertaken by friend of PitchVision, James Hughes - compared the bat speed of players at different levels of ability. For accuracy he used a 3D motion tracker. The results after a lot of testing were clear:
Better batsmen always had faster bat speed.
This suggests that to be a better batsman, you need a faster bat speed. This makes natural sense when you think about big hitting, but this bat speed rule applies across the board. This is certainly different from the way batting is traditionally coached.
Usually we start with front foot shot technique: foot and head position, stance and alignment of the body. However, other research has found no differences when testing between skilled and less skilled batters in these areas.
That's one to think about for a moment. Technique is about the same, but bat speed does vary.
This does make sense. Better players have better timing because of a later downswing of the bat during attacking strokes. This means more bat speed, as the bat travels down faster to get to ball contact at the right moment.
Coaching bat speed
Now we know how important bat speed is to all forms of batting, it makes sense to coach it with a higher priority. Technique remains crucial, but currently it's rare for players to work on bat speed at all, whereas setup, and body position dominate coaching at club and school level.
One innovative way of adding bat speed is by taking a leaf from both baseball and strength and conditioning. Here players can be taught how to throw light objects to generate a lot of speed through the upper body. Throwing light medicine balls is safe for even young players and will help with more bat speed.
Combine this with drills that focus on hitting the ball a long distance (and coaching an effectively high backswing to increase this) and you have a simple bat speed plan that all cricketers at all ages can benefit from. Plus, for kids, trying to hit the leather off a ball is a fun way to train.
Bat weight is also important to consider. For young cricketers, a too heavy bat will slow bat speed and no exellence in technique or hand-eye coordination can overcome the handicap. A light bat combined with the idea that the swing is all important will help even smaller, weaker cricketers who struggle for power and timing.
Remember, this is just one study. It's interesting to see, but it takes experimentation by coaches and players in "real life" outside the lab to see how it works in your situation.
Thanks to James Hughes for passing on his study: "Comparative Study of Experienced v Non Experienced Cricket Batsman".