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We all know that cricket bats need oiling. Kookaburra Cricket have a great article on their website about how to oil bats and why. 

The moisture content of bat willow is a key element to a bat being a good bat or a not so good bat. Bats are ordered by retailers on a seasonal basis. Bats for southern hemisphere regions are ordered in January and February and for northern hemisphere regions in November and December. This is because bat manufacturers need to have sufficient time to manufacture them and to ship them  to the various regions in time for the preseason sales period. So in effect your brand new bat might be 6 months old before you buy it or even older. Therefore the cleft used to make your bat has most likely been air dried and even kiln dried seven months prior. Willow is a natural product. In the natural state it has a moisture content level of around 50%. Post drying and prior to shaping and pressing a cleft would have a moisture content of around 12%.  

So it would be fair to say that a bat with a moisture content of between 11% to 12% is fairly new with a suitable moisture content thus rendering it suitable for good performance outputs. 

Bats in general need to be oiled for a number of reasons. Moisture retention is one reason but other factors such as surface sealing and cellular pliability benefit from a bat being oiled. 

Conventional methods of oiling include applying a thin coat of oil to the face of a bat as well as the back and the edges. For new bats this process needs to be repeating around 5 times to coincide with knock in and hitting softer balls. 

Here at Force Train Better we have been reviewing the effects of oil on bats. As part of the review  we looked at a number of bats, most of them under six months old, that had split. Interestingly in all cases the split appeared from visual inspection to emanate along the edge of the bat or from the face of the bat extending into the middle regions. It was also notable that all splits occurred when the volume of timber was greatest. By this we mean the cracks lined up with the "middle" of the bats. Subsequent moisture reading tests indicated a large variance in the moisture content between the timber from the mid section as against the outer surface areas. In some cases the variance was in the region of 10% to 15%. Sections of cuts were taken from higher up the bat where the volume of timber was less. The moisture content in these regions were very close; almost the same; between the surface and the core. Among other things the research suggests that crackers occur and indeed are most likely to occur in sections of bats where there is a denser concentration of timber by volume. This is arguably because of the variance in moister content.   

In order to combat this we looked at ways or methods that would ensure oil is used to limit moisture loss from the bulkier sections of bats. A method of inserting "oil ports" in the back of the bat that have a 4 mm to 6 mm shaft extending to within 20 mm of the bat face was the most logical that we reviewed. The ports allow for the oil to ingress to the inner regions of the bat and for the oil to move laterally and down into the sections immediately above the face of the bats. Ideally this would be done when the bat is new and maybe updated every two months. The oil does not sit in the port holes for long. In fact it is generally taken up by the bats within a few hours. 

As a consequence Force Train Better will soon be modifying all of our bats to include two to four port holes on each bat. We believe this will see less cracks occurring with new bats and bats in general having a longer usage time span.
Email us at enquire@forcetrainbetter.com if want to know more. 

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Julian Wood is the current batting coach of England. He is also the brains behind Power Hitting Systems, a unique and highly advanced Cricket Training Methodology that is sweeping the world. He is highly sought after and his resume includes conducting Power Hitting Seminars in a wide and diverse range of environments. These include the England National Squads, The Sydney Thunder T-20 squad, the Dolphins T-20 squad, the Karnataka Institute of Cricket in India and many more.   

A few years ago Julian stepped outside the mainstream square when he decided to study coaching methods in other sports. Notably he spent time working with Major League Baseball teams in the USA. Through this he was able to develop a more scientific overview for cricket training programs and the development of cricketers. Through baseball he also developed an appreciation for overweight-underweight workouts and concluded that this form of training would be highly beneficial in the development of players for the faster style T-20 game that requires players to have a broader Power Hitting Skill-Set and a "higher degree" of Strength and Fitness.

Technique development in unison with muscle conditioning and strength building is the step up that Julian's programs offer. From a batsman's perspective Power Hitting is about hitting harder and hitting harder for longer. T-20 cricket is fast paced and physically intense. To perform well players need to be able to perform in short sharp bursts then they need to be fit enough to recover and repeat. 

Training for this type of cricket needs to be in a format that hones in on physical improvement, fitness improvement, and power generation improvement; as well as the technique refinement. In order to develop fitness, strength and to condition the right muscle groups a player needs to use specialized equipment. In this regard Julian Wood turned to the gear developed by Force Train Better.   

Based in Perth western Australia Force Train Better is a business set up by cricketers. The idea for the business was to design and develop a range of training aids that would help players to develop their power game and to make them fitter, stronger and to integrate a higher level of  "endurance" into a players game. The short forms of the game, T-20 and One-Day, require a power game but Test Cricket requires players to be able to bat for long periods of time and to be able to concentrate for long periods of time. You cannot concentrate for long periods of time if you are physically worn.

Julian Wood uses the Force Train Better Range of Gear in all of his training programs. he endorses the gear and he urges all his players to have them in their kit bag. These products are designed to improve a players game. Strength building, muscle conditioning, endurance development are all reliant on working the body and muscle groups against resistance. A cricket shot or the release of a cricket ball from the hand both rely on a specific or unique group of muscles. The muscle mechanics of hitting and bowling a cricket ball are not natural muscle mechanics. They are unusual and they are unique. Therefore resistance in motion exercising is not easily provided for in a gym or in any resistance training weight sets. Weighted bats and balls provide such resistance and they do so exactly where the resistance is needed. 

Baseball players have been using weighted bats and balls for over sixty years. Like cricketers they use a specific set of muscle groups and like cricket baseball motion movement is not a natural movement. 

Cricket is changing and cricket coaches and coaching methods need to change with it. Rocking up to the nets for a bat or a bowl has been the norm for generations but with the dawning of new formats it is time to think outside of the square and be different. 

                                                          Train Better - Play Better             

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Julian Wood is a world class batting coach who specializes in the principles of - Cricket Coaching using - Overweight Underweight Training Programs. He is the current coach of the England T-20 and ODI Cricket Squads. He is also the master mind behind the highly advanced and futuristic Power Hitting Batting Programs that are now being used by Cricket Coaching Academies and Coaching Centers based in England, Scotland, Ireland, South Africa, India, Pakistan, USA and Australia. The game of cricket is changing. Gone are the days when all young players aspire to play Test Level Cricket. While achieving Test Status is still a high priority the youngsters of today see T-20 and One-Day Cricket as the ultimate aim.

In the current climate young players and players in general need to develop their game and skill sets so that they can succeed in the multi formats of cricket. The requirements for playing Test Cricket as against T - 20 and One-Day Cricket are vastly different. A lot of young players are attracted to the fast paced hard hitting T-20 game.

Julian Wood's Power Hitting Programs are geared toward improving a player's Power Hitting Game. His programs and methodology are centered around strength building, muscle toning and muscle conditioning. However; it is not all about sheer power. Bulking up and becoming stronger is just one aspect of his programs. Strange as it may seem a lot of the exercises that Julian puts his players through involve the use of light weight training aids that are design to increase "speed in motion". Speed and fast twitch muscle action is every bit as important as strength. To much bulk without speed or agility slows a player’s movements down. So while strength might be there; without "fast muscle twitch" players would become cumbersome and slow. If you look at action sports such as AFL Football you will see that AFL footballers bulk up; but they also speed up.

Julian Woods Power Hitting Programs employ the use of Overweight Underweight exercise sessions. The overweight side of things is about building strength while the underweight programs allow players to improve speed which is critical in the area of footwork; body motion and in the development of a players ability to maximize bat head speed. Taking it one step further; fast body movement, good bat head speed and quick footwork coupled with good body strength creates resistance and when it comes to helping you hit the ball harder and further; resistance is vital. In fact resistance is the most important aspect of Power Hitting.

Overweight and underweight training programs are used in most sports. In cricket, world renowned bowling coaches such as Steffan Jones of England use overweight underweight programs to help with the development of fast bowlers.

Force Train Better has developed a range of overweight and underweight cricket bats and cricket training balls that coaches such as Julian Wood are now using with some the worlds leading elite players.

Click here to view the range of Force Training Aids available on this website:

The Editor

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ForceTrainBetter by John Baverstock - 6M ago

Introducing the new "Triple Splice Bat Technology". Fully engineered and tested these bats represent the most significant advancement in bat making for many, many years. The triple splice technology is founded on sound engineering principals and master craftsman timber jointing methods. This patented technology offers more rebound off the bat face and gives great feel through the hands when striking the ball. Theses bats are super bats. The top of the range Ultra is crafted from Grade 1 Select English Willow. It comes with thick Edges, a Round or Oval Handle with a patented three plain splice connection that out performs any bat currently in the market. There are five models of the bats in both Senior and Junior Sizes. The top of the range Ultra will retail at $1250 Senior $600 Junior with the Blaze retailing for $280 Senior and $175 Junior.

The Triple Splice Handles come in a range of 10 joint sections. The initial roll out model will use the three plain splice with later models utilizing a combo splice with Graphite inserts.

With the technology being fully MCC Compliant these bats represent yet another innovative invention developed by the people at Force Train Better.

To find out more email the people at Force - enquire@forcetrainbetter.com

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ForceTrainBetter by John Baverstock - 6M ago

Ever hit that crisp shot then hold your bat face up to see if you can see where on the bat you struck the ball? Every player has probably done it at one stage or another. Force Train Better www.forcetrainbetter.com has developed a product called Cricket Impact Tape that allows players to see exactly where on the bat they hit the ball. On impact the tape changes color showing the batter the impact points on the bat face. A great training aid that simply sticks on and peels off when finished with. Session by session you now analyse your shot play. A must for the serious player.

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ForceTrainBetter by John Baverstock - 6M ago

Force Train Better are pleased to announce that they have signed a distribution agreement with CHHL Pty Ltd, the owners and distributors of the Aero Brand of gear, to distribute the Force Train Better Products throughout the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

This is a significant step forward for the Force Brand as CHHL Pty Ltd are a high profile Cricket Supplier that also distribute the Aero Strippers Range of Protection Gear, the Aero Kit Bags, Aero Protective Head-wear, the side Arm Throwers, The Clads Range of Bat Shields and the Vintage Range of Cricket bats.

Force Train Better Products will soon be available from a wide range of retailers throughout the UK including Stores such as Cricket Direct

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If you've got no idea what to expect when you pick up a ForceTrainBetter bat, here's what we found a while ago when we were trailing them. The bat we used in this trial was a T3, which we actually haven't put into production yet. We wanted something lighter and heavier, so we went with the T2 and T4. We also have the T6 available for those who really want something heavy. Here's how the T3 went though.

 First Impression

There's no not noticing the extra weight when you pick up the heavier bat, not with a T3 anyway. That initial feeling of yeah this is heavier is the idea though, and it is paid back later. The bat we used is the left of the two bats in the image shown on the right. It was smaller than the standard bat, but heavier at 3 lb 6.5. The standard bat we used was 2 lb 10.

Different ShotsFull and straight

I knew it would be harder to hold the bat correctly with my top hand as I played the straight drive. My top hand (I'm a right-hander, so my left hand) got a serious workout, which was great and exactly what I was hoping for. What I didn't anticipate was my body and core actually having to work harder to maintain it's correct position while swinging the heavier blade.

 

The ForceTrainBetter T3 on the left, standard 2 lb 10 bat on the right.

 Full and wide

When I get at a wide half volley, I wait a fraction longer and get a full swing of the bat. Doing this used bigger upper body muscles and less top hand, so it was tiring but not as much as the straight drive. For the slightly straighter ones, or for those who's bat doesn't finish on the shoulder, it works that top forearm out nicely as well.

Yorkers

Clean bowled me. If you're anything like me, you hate being bowled. When you get a yorker, you try to clamp the bat down in time. As your bat is still in a high back lift position, you've actually got a fair bit of work to do to get the bat down "in time" as they say. As I discovered, this is much harder with the heavier bat.

  

Design for the popular T4.

Short and straight

Defending on the back foot wasn't too different. It was a little harder to get the bat in the right position in time and hold it there, but nothing too dramatic. Leaving balls was slightly harder because you had to work harder to get the bat up and out of the way.

Cutting, pulling and hooking

Cutting was interesting. Even though you're using bigger upper body muscles compared to your forearm, it's still harder to get the bat through in time. You've also got to work harder to hold your body in the correct position, as the heavier weight flying around throws you off balance. The same thing happened on the pull shot. I didn't get a really quick bouncer that tested my reflexes, but I'd imagine if I did my helmet would have got a workout. I'll probably save those for another day and use tennis balls, as I'll be wearing the majority of them.

 Going Back To The Normal Bat

Like that initial, this is too heavy feeling you get when you pick up a weighted bat, you now get this wow this is like a toothpick feeling of picking up your normal bat. My immediate thought was I could swing the bat much harder, and I did, particularly at some wider ones. To the straighter balls, I found it easier to get my bat into the correct position and maintain my shape. Maintaining shape was an unexpected benefit but much welcome, particularly as hitting the ball back past the bowler is hard enough to master.

One of the unexpected benefits of the bat is the improvement it had on my balance. It was much easier to maintain my position in my shots after using the heavier blade. For this reason, I felt much more in control of my shots, despite swinging the bat harder.

After The Session

After the session with the heavier bat, I felt a little more fatigued than a normal 1 hour session. I would have hit 75% of all the balls with the heavier bat, so it was a fair bit of extra swinging. My top forearm was very tired, and it was sore for a day or two, just like any other gym workout you're not used to. For this reason, I wouldn't recommend such a long session so early with the heavier bat, particularly if you're training again in the coming days. Maybe 30 minute sessions using the bat 50/50 with a normal bat will help the forearm muscles to develop. A stronger top arm though will provide better control of the bat and help prevent it cramping during a long innings.

Want to give it a go? Bats are currently available for between $150 and $200 AUD plus shipping, depending on the size and model. Delivery time is 2 - 3 weeks. Email us on enquire@forcetrainbetter.com for a price now.

 

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