Inside Sport: How to hit sixes – with Chris Lynn
Brisbane Heat captain Chris Lynn is known for his ability to hit sixes. The Australian one-day and T20 player lit up BBL05 with his consistent display of power hitting. His performance reached its peak with a stunning feat of five consecutive sixes off Melbourne Stars bowler Ben Hilfenhaus in January 2016. After overcoming serious shoulder injuries earlier in his career, Lynn can now lay claim to be one of the world’s best strikers of a cricket ball.
In this article for the December 2016 issue of Inside Sport, I talked to the 26-year-old about how he trains for six-hitting, the physical preparation that goes into generating explosive power, and how his approach to playing cricket has changed over the course of his career.
“Cross training is a big one for me. I used to play a lot of rugby league when I was a kid. I believe I have a strong core, which obviously helps trying to swing a big heavy bat. Cross training definitely gave me an advantage in hitting the ball more than the blokes that have only really played cricket.
A lot of the gym guys like to do the basic sort of stuff. I try and make my gym exercises specific for batting. Instead of a slow bench press or push up, I like to throw the bar up, and do things like clap push ups. I want to get that velocity in the gym and train for fast, powerful movements, working on those fast twitch fibres. That’s something I’m very big on, whether it’s a medicine ball, throwing it as hard as you can on the ground. Or a medicine ball push, throwing it as hard as you can and explode through it, because everything you do on a cricket field is explosive.
There’s no point in me doing a slow squat or a slow bench press. I’ve got to try and hit a ball at 140 kilometres per hour – you’re not going to do that with slow movements. So I want to hit the ball as hard as I can and react to the type of delivery as well. It also means I don’t have to hit the ball as hard, just have to time the ball, as I’m still hitting the ball well enough to reach the fence.“
Power hitting practice
“In the nets, I try and hit the ball as hard as I can along the ground to start with…it reduces the risk of a wicket. Then once you get into your innings, you’ve got your mindset of wherever they pitch the ball, whether it’s full or short, you’ve got your game plan and just commit to that totally.
Everything I do on the cricket field, I just commit 100%. That’s one thing I have to do: otherwise I fail. If I pull back on a ball or shot, that’s when I get myself in trouble. And I reckon these are keys: one, backing yourself and two, getting that power through the ball. It’s about utilising your whole body, not just your forearms, but actually using your legs and core strength to hit the ball further and harder.”
Training the right way
“I’m not a big one for long training sessions. I generally just like to get in and get what I need. Because we are playing cricket twelve months a year now, they’re not massive sessions, just top-up, feel-good sessions. My longest ever net would be thirty-five to forty minutes. After that time I believe you’ve faced enough balls, and you train with bad habits after that period of time.
I used to bat three different ways. But last year in Shield cricket I batted with one-day and T20 intent. Because they’ve got aggressive fields, it’s easier to score because the fielders aren’t on the boundary. I’m one for visualising there is a deep mid off, a deep cover, or a deep square leg, and hitting out for a strong single, as you would in a T20 or one-day game… instead of getting one, I get four. So visualisation is something I use.”
Routine is king
(On hitting those five consecutive sixes)… “I felt at that stage I could hit every ball. So why don’t I go through my routines, keep my head still, foot straight down the wicket, do all that and you back myself…and most importantly I was having fun. I never show too much emotion because I know it’s a just game, that’s great but no point carrying on mid-game.
When the bowler is at the top of his mark, I have my routines – I look around the field and generally get a feel where they are going to bowl. I always play every ball on its merits, so if they bowl the same ball twice and you’ve already hit the first ball for six, why can’t you do it again?
That’s when I talk about backing myself and having that confidence and consistency in my routine…that’s what went through my mind. The best sportsmen back themselves, but they’ve also got their routines. I watch Rafael Nadal for example. It might be five-all in the fifth set but he’s doing the same routine as he’s done the first game of the match.”
“It’s great for the game. The bats are big but heavier. A lot of guys use two-pound nine, two-pound-ten bats. Mine’s a two- twelve, two-twelve and a half. Bowlers are allowed to bowl a bouncer, but I’ve also got to swing this heavy bit of willow… I’ve actually cut a half-inch off the bottom of my bat, so automatically its shorter, but you can fit more wood into the blade.”
Advice for six-hitters
“Try and hit every ball back at sightscreen. Use the full face of the bat. If you are thinking straight first, you can adjust 360 degrees. Also, be consistent at training, as well as with your attitude, routines and body language.”
Chris Lynn’s top five workouts to build explosive power
Medicine ball slams
Throw the ball as hard as you can to the front and side. Use your core and whole body. Helps generate strong core and power.
Start in a push-up position. Keep your back straight, lower down and push yourself up, adding a clap at the top. Helps generate explosive power.
Hold your bat with one hand and flick it up and down. Do as many reps as you can with both arms. Helps generate forearm and grip strength.
Using a cable, pull using fast movements, high to low and vice versa. Helps build core strength.
Chin up/pull up
Throw yourself up off the bar and try to catch yourself again. Helps generate explosive power.
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