As coaches, A-Star Cricket regularly looks to other sports for ideas as to how to enhance performance from our players. Something we have come across in baseball is the phrase “intent to throw hard”. This phrase in its simplest form means nothing more than maximum effort.
I know that I have worked with fast bowlers where I have purely worked on the biomechanics and sequencing without any focus on intent. I can also say that I have fallen into the trap of thinking that maximum effort demonstrates over compensation for problems with an action and that the action is not repeatable.
Is there a problem with young players demonstrating maximum effort? No, but the intent is useless without an underlying base of strength and fitness.
The idea of “intent” to many coaches means that it is something that creates fast bowlers or hard-hitting batters. But that’s not what it is – intent simply reveals this.
Of course, intent and underlying fitness are intertwined.
In an ideal training model, a coach should design a programme that maximises return on training time over many sessions. Within programmes coaches should seek to improve intent, mechanical efficiency, and underlying fitness all at the same time to some degree or another.
As coaches we should know and encourage maximum effort and intent. Our players should know what it feels like to hit or bowl with intent – and coaches should encourage this, give young cricketers the opportunity to just hit hard or bowl fast with maximum effort for no other reason than to reveal their full potential.
As coaches we can all tell someone anything and be correct. But we all experience the feel of our actions in our own way. What feels like hip to shoulder separation to you may feel like over rotation to me; what feels like the correct set up to you feels too open to me. Actionable drills and exercises must let the individual figure it out for themselves.
Many young cricketers cannot be told what to do; they must be shown how to discover the optimal hitting and bowling power through overload/underload training and regular opportunities to experience maximum effort.
So while young cricketers often need to improve both intent and fitness, coaches can’t just say “try to hit harder” and “throw these heavy balls” and hope it works. Players need individualised, but still general enough, since they are starting at a beginners level, programmes that adapts to their specific needs.
Players that we have worked with have seen quick improvements in ball exit velocity in bowling and hitting actions when we have had a focus on intent and maximum effort, some young cricketers have improved bowling speed by 4mph in just 8 weeks – and they only worked with us for 90 minutes a week!
We have seen the best results when players are very hard workers, and do not stop training when they leave the sessions. While I believe in the benefits of our programmes, it is nothing without the intent to work harder than anyone around you.