I attended a fascinating Power Hitting Masterclass with Julian Wood at the MCC Cricket Academy, yesterday. Sunday evening saw a dozen coaches having a lot of fun hitting balls.
Lots of ideas on how to help others hit harder and smarter – and it was a little drill to develop wrist speed and flexibility when hitting, with hurling stick and balls (the camán and sliotars of the title), that I think might try out (if I can just get hold of the equipment).
Julian is becoming the go-to coach for power hitting (a distinction Julian made himself – this was about hitting, not batting), and he introduced us to a lot of technical pointers that could be coached to help players hit harder. But we spent most of the evening trying out many of Julian’s drills and practices that have appeared on the internet – heavy ball, heavy bat; balance board hitting – and a chance to measure hand (or bat) speed and ball exit velocity.
Some of the drills are perhaps best left to more experienced players – Julian did emphasise that batsmen probably needed to know how to bat before learning to hit – but the dexterity and speed needed to hit successfully with the hurling stick could perhaps be introduced to players at an earlier stage.
The development of this drill (to a rolled feed, flick up and hit to a nominated direction) starts to introduce the player to the skills of 360° hitting – fast feet and strong wrists.
Interestingly, in looking into the availability of hurling equipment in England (limited, seemingly, but there a plenty of companies in Ireland offering to ship to England at very reasonable prices), I came across a site that described how to select and use the camán.
After advising young hurlers to use only ever use a stick of the correct size (or even slightly shorter), L’Ash Go Leor advises:
You should hold the hurley with your strong hand (i.e. your writing hand) on top [my emphasis] and your weaker hand underneath. This allows you to develop a more natural swing for left and right side of the body which is essential for any young hurler wishing to improve his or her skills.
Another example of playing a sport “the wrong way around” i.e. with the strong hand at the top of the bat. See Hand and Eye Dominance in Sport: Are Cricket Batters Taught to Bat Back-to-Front? by David L. Mann, Oliver R. Runswick and Peter M. Allen for more on this.
Maybe we really have been getting this wrong in cricket, and for a long time!