HIT IT FOR SIX

Inside Sport - - ANATOMY OF A CHAMP - WITH CHRIS LYNN – Andrew Mar­mont

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. After over­com­ing se­ri­ous shoul­der in­juries ear­lier in his ca­reer, Lynn can now lay claim to be­ing one of the world’s best strik­ers of a cricket ball. We 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.

EX­PLO­SIVE EF­FECT

“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 when try­ing to swing a big, heavy bat. Cross-train­ing def­i­nitely gave me an ad­van­tage in hit­ting the ball over the blokes who 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 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 ex­plod­ing through it. 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 140km/h – 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; I just have to time the ball, as I’m al­ready hit­ting it well enough to reach the fence.”

POWER PRAC­TICE

“In the nets, I try to 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 per­cent. 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 though 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.”

TRAIN RIGHT

“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 12 months a year now, they’re not mas­sive ses­sions, just top-up, feel-good ses­sions. My long­est-ever net would be 35 to 40 min­utes. After that time I be­lieve you’ve faced enough balls; 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; 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 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.”

BIG­GER BATS

“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 the sightscreen. Use the full face of 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.”

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