Which way should I hold the bat? Challenging convention in cricket

As a child, Mike Hussey played backyard cricket as a right-hand batsman. This was only natural given that he is right-hand dominant. Then, one day he decided to emulate his idol, Allan Border, who batted left-handed. In the subsequent three decades, Hussey had an exceptional cricket career as a left-hand batsman.

It is not unusual to observe cricketers who throw the ball with their left-hand but bat as a right-hander (e.g. Michael Clarke). In doing so, it means that the dominant hand is positioned higher on the grip.

David Mann and colleagues examined 43 professional and 93 inexperienced cricket batsman. The aim was to assess whether batsman were holding the bat with their dominant hand lower on the bat (as per convention ) or whether they were using their dominant hand higher on the bat (referred to as a “reverse stance” in the study).

Key Finding

  • Professional batsman were 7.1 times more likely to adopt a reverse-stance than the inexperienced batsman.
  • This suggests that a reverse stance might be advantageous for cricket batting.
  • A similar advantage may also be present in other sports, such as golf.

Final Thoughts

The finding begs the question as to whether coaches should encourage young children to hold the bat with a reverse-stance. A longitudinal study is required to provide objective evidence as to whether a reverse stance does indeed provide a performance advantage.

Reference

Mann, D. L., Runswick, O. R., & Allen, P. M. (2016). Hand and eye dominance in sport: are cricket batters taught to bat back-to-front?. Sports Medicine, 46, 1355-1363.

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