Can you teach power-hitting? This pioneering coach says ‘yes’

If the pandemic hadn’t struck final 12 months, and his negotiations with Rajasthan Royals hadn’t derailed, cricket followers might need seen a beefy determine roaming across the IPL franchise’s dugout. They would have seen Julian Wood, a pioneering power-hitting coach, carry his odd-shaped Irish hurling sticks (like an extended skinny paddle), bungee-ropes on a batsman’s hips with the opposite finish tied to a pole, claw hammers, weighted bats and different mind-boggling gear.

“Players tend to work with me for intense workshops before they go off to BBL, CPL, IPL, and (other) T20 tournaments. I saw where the game was going before anybody else. I am confident in saying that after speaking to a lot of players over the years,” Wood tells this newspaper how he began to discover power-hitting round 12 years in the past after an surprising stumble into the world of baseball whereas on a vacation within the United States.

Some of the names who’ve labored with him are Carlos Brathwaite, Sam Billings, Ben Stokes, Prithvi Shaw, and even contact gamers who need to enhance their power-games like Sam Curran and Joe Root. “I work with the England counties, stints in BBL.”

The approach behind energy

Wood sums up his philosophy: “White-ball batting is hand-eye coordination with energy and talent. When you bat, you lead together with your head. When you hit, you lead together with your hip extra. It’s about producing energy ground-up, from the hip to the arms. Cricket has been historically too hand-reliant. That has to alter. Power comes from the torso and hips. A kinetic chain of power occurs while you hit the ball explosively: it comes up out of your again leg to your hip, to your again, goes to shoulder, elbow, and at last to wrists. What I attempt to do is to hitch the dots up. You have to separate your arms out of your physique. You want to try this separation to enhance explosiveness. You see that in baseball, the again leg goes again, arms are separated from the physique so to say, after which explosion kicks in.

“You have lots of energy stored up in your wrists. And it’s only now that people are accessing that: snapping wrists to hit the ball. Some do it naturally, like Virat Kohli. Some big hitters like the Caribbean ones do it. It’s now catching up elsewhere. For players who don’t do it naturally, I try to create it by their natural movements. Using wrists is the last part of the kinetic chain of events. How to get that final snap.”

Methodology all his personal

Here is the place his odd gear is available in. Like a bungee-pull on again hips, “a rope that’s tied to a pole that forces the batsmen to get his torso and hips into the shot”. Like the claw hammer. “To get that final wrist snap. I get them to use a claw hammer; to snap it in a side-ways arc, like how you use the bat, and it helps in cocking the wrist better.” Like the hurling stick, picked up from the Irish sport. “The Hurly players hit the ball across the length of a soccer ground. There is no balance but the way their wrists snap is amazing. I started to experiment with it and put drills in place.”

Then there are the weighted bats and weighted balls, even. “These special balls sit on the bat for a long time. You have to get your hands through, otherwise, they don’t go anywhere. I put weights on your forearms to help with that snap. If you use a hurling stick with weights on your forearms, your wrist-snap improves. In baseball, they don’t look at the outcome. In cricket, it’s all so outcome-based. Why didn’t the ball go there, it should have gone there, etc. In baseball, it’s all about technique. You trust the technique, and the outcome takes care of itself. That’s what I have taken from it. But you can’t cookie-cut this. Every batsman swings differently. Carlos Brathwaite has slow hands and smaller batsmen swing differently. The way I coached Carlos is different from the way I coach Curran.”

Thinking out of the field

Wood performed for Hampshire and felt he was constrained by conventional conservative teaching. Then he obtained into teaching himself, however it actually began to alter on a vacation in Texas. “My boys were hitting at baseball cages and I saw a big trick with Texas Rangers all over. I got talking with a hitting coach Ted Vidrine who put me on Scott Coolbaugh, who is Rangers’ hitting coach. My mind started to expand, and I started to think how I can bring it to cricket.”

Once he firmed up his strategies, Wood drove in a van together with his gear to Graham Thorpe at England and Wales Cricket Board. “I showed him the stuff at the back of my van and explained. He went, ‘whoa, this is good’. Then Gloucestershire’s coach John Bracewell and then Andy Flower got me into England Lions. Peter Moores had me working with the England team. It feels good that I have contributed something to the fact that the England team is the main big-hitting team in the world with tall scores.”

The newest feel-good motion got here in the summertime when England was enjoying Pakistan. “Joe Root hit a few sixes, mind you after he reached his hundred (laughs), (and) the television commentators mentioned my name. That felt satisfying. There are a lot of copycats now, but I know what I have done to the game as a pioneer. I measure the power-hitting, the hand- speed, the bat-exit speed, the launch angles – and all this now is part of cricketing terminology too. It feels good. Now, bring on the IPL next year!” he laughs.

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