Power Hitting in Cricket - How to Hit Big Sixes

Do you ever feel intrigued by watching players like Chris Gayle and MS Dhoni effortlessly flick the ball and send it soaring for a huge six? 

Even bowlers fear their strength, knowing that if they can just flick the ball for six, they are capable of muscling it even farther. The ball disappears from sight, with no chance of it remaining on the ground, always traveling to the stands. As Akash Chopra often says, "Darshak bane fielder aur fielder bane Darshak”. What's even more exciting is that these players can hit sixes at will, accelerating the scoring rate whenever they feel it's necessary. Fans are always eager to see these batsmen hit big sixes, knowing it's only a matter of time before they change the course of the match.

Chris Gayle and MS Dhoni hitting big sixes

Credit: Cricket Australia

Power hitting in cricket is an art, and with the rise of the t20 format, it has become more and more important for batsmen to become a maestro. But, there is one thing to consider, power hitting is not always about muscling the red leather with brute strength, it is about being efficient and using a combination of timing and strength, both for big sixes or to drive it along the ground like a tracer bullet. 

But before understanding about power hitting in cricket, let’s first dive and study the Cricket Batting Tips & Techniques For Beginners by ZAP, which is considered the best guide for beginners. 

To, excel at power hitting, you’ll first need to understand the physics of a cricket bat:

The Weight: Heavy vs. Light

When playing cricket, everyone wants to strike the ball with great force and velocity. This is where the question arises, should they use a bat that is light or heavy in weight? 

  • A bat that is light in weight can be swung with greater swiftness than one that is heavy, but only by a modest margin of 10%. 
  • Conversely, the heavier ones harbour more potential energy and momentum, thus conferring more power. 
  • If two bats of equal weight are swung with equal speed and strike the same ball, the heavier one will exert more force on the ball. 
  • However, a lightweight one would be the best option if you want to swing it hard and with ease. 
  • It is recommended to select one that feels comfortable to maneuver.

The Sweet Spot:

Player playing shots off the Middle of The Bat

Ever wondered why the shots you play from the middle of the bat travel further than when you play from anywhere else?

There are multiple reasons for this:

  • The sweet spot shows an interesting phenomenon of physics. It is the point where the ball's impact and the bat's natural frequency converge perfectly, resulting in resonance. The vibrations and shock from a shot that is played off the sweet spot or the middle are minimal.  
  • Additionally, when a shot is struck from the centre, the power of the shot is increased because the sweet spot on the face is backed by the thickest part of the bat. 
  • This thickest part is heavy, and a much more effective transfer of energy and momentum happens when you strike the leather ball, sending it to the stars. 
  • The energy transfer is less effective when it is hit off-center because some of the energy is absorbed by the willow rather than being transmitted to the ball. It travels less quickly and farther as a result of this.
  • Along with this, you need to have a well knocked bat to maximize it's potential. 

Ball speed after the impact:

Playing hitting the cricket ball

This might be a very nerdy part of this article, but understanding this is very important in better understanding power hitting in cricket. 

So, what causes a ball that is bowled at the batsman at a certain speed to change direction and travel at an even greater speed and now what does this impact speed depend upon?

It’s the bat striking the ball and the speed depends on where you play the shot from (could be the edges, the sweet spot or the bottom), your timing and the swing speed. 

  • If the shot is played off the sweetspot, and is perfectly timed, the ball will be returned at a much much greater speed. It will be like the red leather sphere is traveling toward the boundaries at lightning speed. 
  • But if the shot is mistimed, or edges, the shot won't have much power and the speed of the ball after the impact won’t be much higher than what it already was when it was bowled.
  • In a scientific way, the ratio of the speed of the ball to the speed off the bat is called E, and it varies depending on where it hits the bat, being smaller near the tip and edges and larger halfway up the willow.

So now, if you have understood the physics and how playing different shots impacts the speed the leather sphere blasts off from the face of the crafted willow, you’re only a few steps away from learning and being a master at power hitting in cricket. Let’s look at the steps you should remember  when hitting big sixes in cricket:

Always pick the right length to hit big: 

Rohit Sharma perfectly judging the line and length of the ball and hitting a six

Credit: DNA India

  • As said in the earlier parts of this guide, power hitting in cricket is not just about swinging the bat hard, it is about being effective and using both, your strength, the strength of the willow and the bowler’s pace and timing it sweetly with enough power that it travels towards the boundary. 
  • So, it is necessary for you to judge where the delivery is bowled and accordingly play your slog shots. 
  • So, if the bowler goes short length, play a pull shot and hit him over mid wicket or long leg for a six. If he goes full, go straight down the ground, similarly, if he bowls short outside off, play the square cut shot over covers and point, just like Sachin Tendulkar did against Shoaib Akhtar in the 2003 ODI  World Cup. 
  • Practice drills, improve your shot making decisions and your reflexes to even hit bowlers who bowl at 150 kmph for massive sixes.

Innovation is the key to success:

Suryakumar Yadav and AB de Villiers, both on their knees and trying to play an unorthodox cricket shot

Credit: ESPN Cricinfo

  • Imagine a player picking up a wide yorker outside off stump and hits it over long on. How crazy does that sound? 
  • That’s what we see players like Suryakumar Yadav, AB de Villiers do, they play shots that are just imaginable. They position themselves in such a way that they can hit any ball in any part of the ground. 
  • The T20 era is the era of innovation and it’s about getting the best results while doing the least. 
  • So, using the bowler’s pace against themselves is the best thing that you can do as a batsman  to achieve unbelievable results in the T20 format
  • Playing innovative shots, like the scoop shot, the reverse sweep, the Paddle shot, the ramp shot all make use of the bowler’s pace to score at a high strike rate and all of these are important parts about Power hitting in cricket. 

Work For Fitness and Strength:

Keiron Pollard smacks the ball hard and hits it out of the park

Credit: News18/IPL

  • A hot take, but if we only talk about power hitting and hitting long, 100+ metres sixes, brute strength is any day better than having a good batting technique. 
  • Sure, you’re right when you say that technique liberates you, it allows you to do everything on the pitch, defend the perfectly bowled ball, cover drive the half volleys, slog the fuller length deliveries and we’ve seen KL Rahul with his exceptional cricket technique, excel at it for years. 
  • But you cannot take away what Chris Gayle and Keiron Pollard did on the field. They could hit sixes even off the edges of the bat. That’s why strength is so important when trying to hit big sixes. 
  • So, you need to work on being fit and have the strength of a rock when you’re on the field. 
Virat Kohli Working Out

Credit: NDTV/Virat Kohli on Instagram

  • One player who has achieved a balance in both is King Kohli. His fitness is an inspiration for every young and budding cricketer. At the same time, his strength, which he has earned over the years by working out and putting in that hard work but still having a lean body is simply commendable. 
  • Having a strong bottom hand will always help you play big shots with ease, so workout those forearms in the gym. Hammer Curls, biceps curls, wrist curls, grip presses are some exercises that you can do to get bigger forearms and the power to hit bigger shots. 
  • So to become a big six hitting machine, train hard for strength and fitness, go to the gym and build a body that helps you become a beast on the pitch. 

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