By Amarinder Bhinder
Biomechanics involves a study of the structure and function of biological systems using the methods of mechanics. It is thus the science that is concerned with the forces that act on a human body and the effects that these forces produce. The success of coaching basic techniques in cricket depends on the understanding of both the effect that the player is trying to achieve and the forces that cause them.
The value of knowledge of Biomechanics to a coach may be related to a wide range of factors that affect the quality of sports performance. Some of the questions relating to Biomechanics that a coach might ask include:
- What technique(s) should a player use for optimal performance?
- What technique should a player use to reduce the possibility of injury?
- What are the relationships between practice skills (hitting a cricket ball from a tee) and the in-match skill (batting in cricket)?
- What effect does a change in equipment design (e.g. scooped cricket bat vs normal bat) have on performance?
- How does the use of adult sporting equipment influence movement patterns of young performers?
It is important that information dealing with technique, the potential for injury and equipment design is provided to coaches so that they can analyze the techniques involved in their sport and then modify them to facilitate the desired movement. In order to do this effectively, the coach must possess an understanding of biomechanics.
The coach who coaches from a “Biomechanical” point of view understands that:
- Biomechanical principles control the basic requirements of the skills and produce movement patterns, which give predictable results. This allows the coach to identify flair in a player.
- Allows for self-correcting by the athlete
- Coach gains an understanding of the skill.
- Movements are executed according to natural forces and this can aid in the coach identifying activities that cause injuries.
- Provides reasons and sound principles to base coaching on thus giving the coach confidence in what he is saying.
The coach, through an understanding of the mechanical and anatomical requirements of a particular activity, ensures that the coaching process does not solely rely on:
- the experiences (intuitive feel) of the coaches,
- copying the current style of champions, and
- leaving the performer to his own devices.
While coaching certainly should not ignore the above, these must be integrated with an understanding of the mechanical principles that are essential for the optimum performance of a particular skill. Any coach striving to coach efficient techniques needs an understanding of the part that mechanical concepts and principles play in the skill being taught.
In all activities, whether stationary or moving, stability plays an important role. A performer who is stable or balanced during sporting activity is one who requires less effort to establish a sound technique. Some activities demand static stability where a set position has to be maintained for considerable time. This is the case in standing in the slips, stance when batting, etc. Other movements require a degree of stability that can be easily altered. Such momentary or dynamic stability is often required in the circumstances of a rapidly changing game such as when fielding, in the bowling delivery or during the execution of the stroke in batting.
As successful performance is the goal of any movement, then the techniques used (biomechanics) are a key ingredient along with fitness specific to the task (physiological capacity) and personal make-up (psychological factors) – see Figure 1. However, success is often dependent upon a physical attribute, such as height and does not rely solely on the quality of movement. This is often the case in fast bowling.