Friday, December 14, 2012

Finding the Sweet Spot of Your Cricket Bat

I was listening to the India vs England test match commentary the other night and they were discussing how slow and low the Nagpur wicket was. Nasser Hussain said that when they were last in Lahore playing on a similar track, the boys went out to buy local made bats because they had low middles.

Cricketing "Old Wives Tale"

It amazes me that this notion that on slow wickets you need a low middle bat and on fast, bouncy wickets you need a high middle bat is still taken as fact. It's the cricketing equivalent of an old wives tale and if you actually think about it, it makes no sense at all.

Why is the Sweet Spot so Important?

The sweet spot is a very important area of the bat. When you hit a ball from the sweet spot you get full value - the maximum power and control - so it makes sense that you would want to hit it as often as possible.

Ok, so before I tell you how you can find the best place for the sweet spot on your bat let's lay to rest this slow track, low middle, fast track, high middle notion nonsense.

Slow Track, Low Middle. Fast Track, High Middle - Bull!

First of all let's eliminate the notion as it applies to back foot, or rather horizontal bat shots. You're on a fast, bouncy track, the ball is short and wide outside off stump, you rock back, get up and your toes and cut the ball from chest height past point for a boundary. Good shot! Where abouts on the bat did you hit the ball? Right out of the sweet spot I hope. Ok so now you're on a slow, low deck, the ball is short and wide outside off stump, you rock back, plant your feet and cut the ball from waist height past point for a boundary. Good shot! Where abouts on the bat did you hit it this time? If your answer is "from exactly the same spot" then congratulations, you have the right answer. The only thing that has changed was the height of the ball, for the bouncy track you got up on your toes, for the slow track you planted your feet. You put yourself in a position so you could hit the ball out of the middle of your bat. Now what would have happened if you were using a bat with a very low middle? In that split second when you were getting yourself in the perfect position to play your shot would you have thought to yourself "hang on a second, I'm using a low middle bat because I'm on a slow track. That means the middle is lower down the bat so if I'm going to hit it out of the sweet spot I'm going to have to give myself a bit more room. I'm going to have to alter my technique for playing the cut shot." No, you'd just play your shot and miss the sweet spot. Same applies if you have a high middle bat on a bouncy track. Your not going to try get closer to the ball because the sweet spot is higher.

Ok, so maybe the low middle / high middle only applies to straight bat shots? No, it doesn't work for that either. Let's use the same example. You're on a slow, low wicket. You go forward to drive the ball and the ball skids through. What do you do? Well most batsmen will drop their hands and block the ball. You don't continue through with your drive. On a bouncy wicket if you go forward to drive the ball and the ball jumps up at you most batsmen will either block or get their bat out of the way.

Technique and Timing are Key

The point is you adapt your shot to the conditions in just the same way you change your timing depending on the speed of the bowler you are facing. As batsmen we adapt our shot to the ball. Some batsmen get very low and take a big stride, some batsmen wait and play the ball a little higher. There's no right or wrong way, as long as you are timing the ball and getting results.

Does Your Sweet Spot Stay in the Same Place?

The next important question is do we always aim to hit the ball from the same spot on the bat? And the answer to that is yes. This is your timing and technique. You've spent countless hours practicing and batting out in the middle. It's why batting becomes easier the longer you spend at the crease. You are getting used to the wicket and the bowlers. Your technique tells you what position to get in, to go forward or to go back and your timing determines at what point you impact the ball.

I've analyzed hundreds of batsmen, batting in every conceivable batting condition, facing different types of bowling using our impact marker sheets. If you naturally drive the ball 6" from the toe of the bat on a fast track facing a big, tall quick bowler you will still naturally drive the ball at 6" from the toe on a slow, low track facing a slow, low arm bowler. Your shot selection will change, your timing will change, but when you get in position to play your drive you will always aim to hit it from exactly the same spot on your bat.

The Crack! of Leather on Willow

If you have a bat with the sweet spot in the correct position for your technique you won't always hit it. It would be great if you could! If your sweet spot is in the right place, when you play the correct shot and time it the ball will come right out of the middle, it will feel effortless, there will be no vibration through the handle and you will hear the sweetest sound in cricket, the Crack! of leather on willow. There is no better feeling than that. The thing is, if your sweet spot is out of position for your technique, when you play the perfect drive you are going to miss hitting the sweet spot and you are going to loose both power and control.

Ok, so now we know the sweet spot isn't determined by the bounciness of the wicket or the speed or height of the bowler you are facing. Now that we know it's all down to your individual technique the question you want answered is how can I measure where my sweet spot should be? Luckily this is quite easy to do. Because the bounciness of the wicket and the speed of the ball aren't the determining factors you can use any flat surface. I always suggest going down to the nets because you don't have to keep running after the ball but it doesn't effect the results if you are on astroturf, real turf or concrete.

How to Measure the Optimum Position for Your Sweet Spot.

Here's what you need to do. Find a flat surface, preferably nets, get padded up and have a buddy with you who can give you some easy paced throw downs, preferably with regular cricket balls. I say easy paced because again, the speed doesn't matter but it is easier to time a gentle paced throw down than a ball that is whizzing down at 90 mph.

You will need something stuck to the face of your bat that will leave a mark when the ball hits it. I developed the impact marker sheet, which is an adhesive sheet that shows a grey colored mark when the ball hits it. They are ideal for this but anything that will leave an imprint will be able to give you a good idea of where you are hitting the ball. Have your buddy throw the ball down at you, nice and full just outside off stump and what you are going to do is drive the ball firmly, along the ground as if you were hitting a boundary shot.

After 12-18 impacts you will start to see a grouping of marks. If you are a bit off the marks may be spread out, some near the toe, some near the splice. Just continue hitting the throw downs until there is a clear grouping of impact marks. Once you have this measure the distance of the center of the grouping from the toe of the bat and there you go! You now know where your optimum sweet spot position is.

Not Just the Sweet Spot but the Whole Cricket Bat Profile.

Before you run out down to the nets, one more thing. The process I've just told you about will help you find the right position for the sweet spot for your drive but as batsmen we have a range of shots. Naturally we don't always hit every attacking shot from the same spot on the bat.

I've been working with the impact sheets and analyzing different batsmen's results for 3 years now. What all these results have done is given me a very good insight into the similarities and differences between batsmen. Over 50% of the guys I've worked with are using a bat profile that doesn't suit their technique, and by profile I don't just mean where the sweet spot is positioned, I mean the whole shape of the bat and how the thickness of the wood is distributed to give maximum results for all a batsman's attacking shots.

I've developed an analysis process that measures a range of shots and asks some in depth questions to allow me to come up with an individually tailored cricket bat design. I'm also making fully customized Grade 1 English willow and Limited Edition English willow cricket bats for certain discerning customers!

If you are interested in getting the analysis process done and / or you are in the market for a new bat get in touch with me and I'll work with you personally to help you get what you need. Time is limited so I'm only making this offer to the guys on the newsletter group.

Here's my email

..... and here's what a few of the guys who have bought the bats are saying

Brilliant bat, great rebound the confidence you gain from knowing that the middle is right where you want it to be. Richard was very easy to converse with and able to accommodate my preferences, now I will never have to go anywhere else for another Bat. Crictech your one stop shop for the best bat money can buy (and it doesn't cost that much).
Andrew Malone - Australia
"CricTech is a pioneer is engineering bats to a players specification by utilizing cutting edge technology that has never been used before."
Abhimanyu Rajp - USA National Team
"I've played cricket for nearly 15 years and my Crictech bat is without doubt, the best bat I've ever used. Crictech's design process allows me to get more value for my shots. My timing has never been better and this gives me peace of mind when I'm at the crease. Richard's customer service is second-to-none & he made sure I was involved in the design process."
David O'Connor - USA
"Crictech bats - An art of innovation and precision"
Mobin Firoz - United Arab Emirates
My new personalized Crictech bat is amazing. The middle of the bat was customized to my style and I received it in just a few of days. Speedy personalized service! Thanks Crictech for a great job!
Mark Punshon - USA
The bat is amazing I specially Ordered it for T20 and it is perfectly designed to my specific style of play. The bat amazes me, as it builds confidence also from the first ball itself no matter if I am defending or playing an aggressive shot because of the big sweet spot basically all of the bat. The easiest thing is that I did not have to get use to the bat, as the Bat was made for me. I can keep going and going about how you and your team amazed me with the technology that you use to create such and elegant as well as a Monster of a bat for me. I think every cricketer should try CRICTECH BATS.
Kartik Patel - USA
Richard is very hands on with the whole process from determining the correct middle to designing the bat as far as weight, handle and pickup is concerned. Fast delivery and exactly as you wanted it when you receive it and great customer service. I won’t hesitate to get another one or two bats in the future from CricTech!
Theo Mavro - USA South West Region Representative Player
I came across CRICTECH while browsing for bats in US. I looked up there website and followed them on the Facebook to see what people thought about their bats. Most of the people were happy with their bats and quality of wood and balance etc.
So I decided to contact Richard, he was very detail oriented and explained me there bat making process and where the wood is from and where the bats are made and how they analysis the stroke sheets that we send them. I did the stroke sheet and sent him my weight requirement, handle shape etc And I got the bat in the estimated time Richard gave me and it is a great willow (for the price paid), I have had the bat for about 6 months now and have played around 6( 40 over) matches and 5( 20-20)matches and have been using it in practice as well the ping was decent when I got the bat but it’s been getting better! And I am very happy with my bat, its balance, weight and the ping. I will surely buy another CRICTECH bat in future :)
Satwant Singh - Arizona Cricket Club
"The crictech bat seems like an extension of my arm. Based on my swing and the strength of muscles of my forearm there is a fluidity of stroke making that is unique in this bat where the weight is tailored to your game. Hopefully it will translate into some runs for me!"
Vijay Trishal - USA
"I got my bat customize from Crictech. Once I received my bat and hold on to it and instantly felt that the bat belongs to me. Perfect balance and light weight just exactly what I wanted it."
Ankit Parmar - USA

National Media - Cricket Magazine reviews on CricTech.

Please note - these are last year's style stickers on the bats
Wisden’s “The Cricketer” magazine in their August 2012 issue gave our Grade 1 Signature bat 4 1/2 stars out of 5 for both build quality and performance, a 5 star rating being “peerless in its field”.

“ALL OUT CRICKET” magazine in their July 2012 issue ran a two page spread dedicated to the CricTech analysis process.


CricTech makes outstanding, hand crafted cricket bats from the finest quality English willow for competitive cricketers using our unique sweet spot analysis process. Check us out.

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