Feel the Force – creating power for cricket, with Mark Sheppard and @HECCSport

I attended a fascinating “power” workshop with Mark Sheppard of Active Intelligence Ltd, hosted by Luke Humphrey at HECCSport.

The event was described as “a workshop for coaches who want to understand and teach how to increase power for all levels and age groups”, and I certainly came away with a lot to think about…not to mention aches and pains from muscles that only rarely get called on when I am coaching!

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Feel the Force workshop – Mark Sheppard @HECCSport
Mark has a background in martial arts, and a lot of the ideas behind his very practical demonstrations come from this field – next time you see a batter throwing punches at a coach with boxing mitts, check out the batter’s feet and hips.

If he is really generating force, expect to see feet firmly planted, knees flexed to lower the batter’s centre of gravity, and transfer of weight into the punch.

Otherwise, what you will probably notice is that the mitts are being slapped, not thumped.

I shall certainly be using the demonstrations of the stable base position for power hitting and throwing in one-to-ones and group sessions with older players.

Perhaps not for all – I can’t see the Little Legends (3-4 years old) performing the “squat-shift”, just yet – but we can still make sure they are learning good movements patterns from an early age, so there is less need to un-learn bad habits later in life.

As a graphic example of the potential impact of this approach – my own bat speed (in a front foot drive) increased by 10% simply by adding a squat-shift (bend the knees, then shift centre of gravity behind and through the stroke), coordinated with the swing of bat from the shoulders.  And that was after a morning of theory and practical demonstration, and just 15 minutes’ practice with the bat.

Practical applications – coaching power with young cricketers

How to introduce “power” to the Little Legend?  I’ll be working with them (and some of the older players I coach, up to 6 or 7) on the FUNdamentals – helping them to develop efficient and effective movement patterns from an early age.

With the next age-range (perhaps up to 11) – nudging them towards enhanced “physical competence“, with warm-up drills designed to challenge inefficient movement.

With older players – overtly in any session on power hitting (very much in fashion, right now); covertly in warm-ups.

Lots to think about; lots to try out.

Perhaps ironically, the poster for the event (above) showed a batter, rocked onto his back leg with front foot off the ground as a counter-balance, trying to muscle the ball into the leg side – if he had been on the workshop, he would probably have tried to keep that front foot on the ground, to generate even more power with a dynamic squat-shift.

Published by Andrew Beaven

Cricket coach, fascinated by the possibilities offered by the game. More formally - ECB level 2 cricket coach; ECB National Programmes (All Stars & Dynamos Cricket) Activator Tutor; Chance to Shine & Team Up (cricket) deliverer; ECB ACO umpire.

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