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BATS - THE INSIDE STORY

Cricket is a technical sport with technical products, but what do all the terms mean? The following is an insight into the ‘mysteries of cricket bats’ and will hopefully assist when selecting your Kookaburra cricket bat.

A.    EDGE PROFILE
Massive ‘Big Edge’ profile which increases from the shoulders and maximises at the sweet spot, generating supreme balance with an extended sweet spot that covers the entire width of the blade.

B.    SPINE PROFILE
Kookaburra’s ‘Super Spine’ profiles adopt traditional shaping characteristics which operate in unison with the ‘Big Edge’ profile of the bat – creating a huge apex, with unrivalled amounts of power throughout the length of the blade and exceptional ‘pick up’.

C.   SWEET SPOT
The position in the blade where performance is maximised. Kookaburra bats are engineered to maximise the size of the sweet spot, allowing the middle of the bat to be spread further across the blade meaning that off centre strikes perform better.

D.   SCALLOP
In the quest to maximise profile, using scallops either side of the spine allow the apex to be extended without dramatically increasing weight. Scallops also maximise edge profile which reduces rotation of the blade in off centre hits, minimising power loss.

E.    FACE PROFILE
The modern game revolves around the thickness of the blade:
1) Flat Face - levelling out the striking area allows more mass to be retained in the back of the bat, maximising the power profile.
2) Rounded Face – favoured by more traditional players, the slightly rounded face gives a familiar look but yields a less expanded profile.

F.   BOW
The curve of the bat from the tip of the handle to the end of the toe. Designed to enhance the position of the hands by placing them ahead of the ball, which is essential for good stroke play.

WEIGHT & PICK UP - WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

The ‘holy grail’ of bats is one with a massive profile and a very light ‘dead weight’ but this is exceptionally hard to find. 

There is much discussion about heavier bats and massive edge profiles and how these will hit the ball further but we do not totally subscribe to that theory. Clearly, if you choose a lighter bat then you will most likely have to compromise slightly on the thickness of the profile and edge profile but this is not a problem. We all have different physiques and sizes and we strongly believe that to get the best performance out of a bat the most essential element is to choose one that feels the right weight for you, this will help you to time the ball better and ultimately make more runs!

It is interesting when a player stipulates that they must have an exact bat weight - if a 2lb 9oz and a 2lb 10oz bat weight were placed in front of the player, it is unlikely that they would be able to tell the difference. We feel ‘pick up’ is more important than ‘dead weight’ as the ‘pick up’ determines how the bat will feel in play – nobody can tell you what the right pick up is for you, or the exact weight you should use – it is a question of what feels right for you.

SHAPE & PROFILE - WHICH PROFILE IS BEST FOR ME?

It is often claimed that bats are specifically designed for either front or back foot play.  In reality, although a shape can be better suited to the type of wicket you normally play on, we all have to play off both the front and back foot, so it is therefore best to choose the bat that just feels right for you.

All players differ slightly in the way they play and as such are likely to hit the ball in slightly different areas of the bat. Whilst it is impossible to cater for every impact area if you choose a bat whereby the wood is focused on your normal impact position,then this gives a better chance of finding the bat that will be right for you.

BAT GRADE & APPEARANCE

Bat prices vary significantly and are all effectively pieces of wood, but we would argue that a more expensive bat will perform better than a cheaper one (we would expect a bat made from grade 1 wood to perform better than a bat made from grade 3 wood for example).  The potential performance of every Kookaburra hand-made bat is evaluated constantly throughout the manufacturing process by our Master Bat Makers – they evaluate the bat on the basis of how it ‘drives’ so you can be sure that the bat you choose is representative of the performance you can expect from the particular grade that you choose to buy.

In all our years experience of bat making we do feel that cosmetic appearance has little correlation with bat performance. It used to be felt that thin grain bats were the best performing bats but that is not necessarily the case and they can tend to break more quickly.

Whereas wider grained bats can perform just as well although they are slightly harder to start with, after playing in they were stronger pieces of willow. The number of grains in a bat is a much debated issue (a grain is regarded as a year in the life of a tree) and there was a school of thought that 8 straight grains on the face produced the perfect bat. However, over the years, willow has changed and the ever increasing demand for willow has created a scenario where trees reach maturity more quickly. This means there are fewer/wider grains, consequently the definition of grading and grains in a bat have evolved over the years. During the production process our bat makers will evaluate every cleft of wood to determine what model we should produce from it. You can be sure that the quality of the bat you get from Kookaburra is the best you can get from that particular quality of willow.  In conclusion, the most important factor when choosing your bat is to ensure that it is the one that feels right for you. In order to maximise your performance it is important to consider what you want from your bat and how you play the game – the game is all about ‘timing’!!  You do need to be realistic with your expectations as you cannot get an ‘8 star’ bat, for a ‘1 star’ price!!

GRADE 1
The most expensive willow and arguably the best looking blade. There may be some red wood evident on the blade and generally there will be at least 6 fairly straight grains visible on the face. There may be a small knot or speck in the edge or back of the bat but the playing should be clean.

GRADE 2
Excellent quality blade but usually more red wood may be visible than on a grade 1 which does not affect the playability of the bat. Similar number of grains to a grade 1 with potentially the odd blemish or butterfly in the grain on the face.

GRADE 3
The most extensively used grade of blade which offers excellent value for money. A grade 3 blade may have up to half the face in a tint/red wood colour but this does not affect playability. This grade will have around 5 grains on the face that may not be that straight and there is likely to be some specks or butterfly marks on the grains on the face of the bat.

GRADE 4
Usually over half of the blade may have a discoloured area but the product playability should not be affected. There are often only 4 grains and there are more butterfly stains and marks on the face of the bat.

GRADE 5
This grade is produced during our production process and it is basically similar to a grade 4 but may have more stain in the wood so cosmetically will not look as good.

WHAT SIZE CRICKET BAT SHOULD I USE?

Height

Recommended size

4 ft and under 

 0

4ft - 4ft 3"

 1

4ft 3 - 4ft 6"

 2

4ft 6" - 4ft 9"

 3

4ft 9" - 5ft

 4

5ft - 5ft 3"

 5

5ft 3" - 5ft 5"

 6

5ft 5" - 5ft 7"

Harrow

5ft 7" - 5ft 9"

Sm Mens

5ft 9" - 6 ft

Short Handle

6ft + 

Long Handle/Long Blade

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Stick Basics

Sorry, lefties — there is no such thing as a left­handed field hockey stick. The bottom of the stick, called the toe, has a rounded edge facing the right and a flat surface facing the left. The flat surface is used to hit the ball. The stick is controlled by the right hand, which should be placed at the base of the grip. The left hand is positioned at the top of the stick and is used to turn the stick.

Stick Weight & Positioning

Most players prefer to use the medium­weight sticks. Forwards, however, generally use the lighter sticks for increased maneuverability and control. Defenders often favor heavier sticks that produce harder hits. Midfielders prefer the medium­weight sticks so they have both maneuverability and hard hits.

Beginners who haven’t decided on a position will be best served by choosing a mediumweight stick. This weight works well for any position. Here is the weight breakdown for sticks (in ounces):

  • Light stick weight: 18 oz to 19 oz
  • Medium stick weight: 19 oz to 22 oz
  • Heavy stick weight: 22 oz to 25.9 oz

Materials & Stiffness

Wood field hockey sticks are made primarily of mulberry or hickory. Composite and fiberglass sticks are also legal and are predominantly used at the high school, collegiate, and Olympic and World Championship levels. The materials used in composite sticks help generate more power for hits and are used to increase durability and enhance flexibility.

Beginners regularly go for more flexible sticks (wood sticks) to help absorb shock.

Advanced players usually prefer stiffer sticks (composite sticks) for increased power.

Those who plan on continuing with the sport should buy composites; they are lighter, produce more power on every hit, and last longer.

Stick Length

Height often dictates the length of a player’s stick. Just the same, players will look for the longest stick that they can comfortable handle; the longer the stick, the longer the reach and the greater the advantage. The size range begins at 26inch youth sticks and goes up to 38­inch sticks for tall, experienced players.

This chart matches player height with corresponding stick lengths.

Player Height

Stick Length

Up to 4 feet

26 inches

4 feet to 4 feet, 3 inches

28 inches

4 feet, 4 inches to 4 feet, 6 inches

32 inches

4 feet, 7 inches to 5 feet

34 inches

5 feet, 1 inch to 5 feet, 3 inches

5 inches

5 feet, 4 inches to 5 feet, 6 inches

36 inches

5 feet, 7 inches to 5 feet, 8 inches

37 inches

5 feet, 9 inches +

38 inches

Toe Style

The toe is the bottom part of the stick that touches the ground and strikes the ball. The shape will vary depending on
player positions and style of play. Players who haven’t figured out their field position should buy midi­toe style sticks. This style stick has the benefits of both the shorti and hook: It’s good for dribbling and for stopping. Listed below are the four main toe styles:

Hook

  • Popular with defensive players due to the large stopping surface; this helps receive the ball
  • J­shaped construction
  • Particularly good on grass surfaces

Maxi

  • Large receiving area and greater hitting power
  • Defensive players prefer this stick style

Midi

  • Large hook surface and length
  • Greater hitting and stopping area to aid receiving, flicking, and reverse stick play
  • Best for beginners and midfield players

Shorti

  • Designed to allow quick movement around the ball
  • Good for dribbling
  • Generally used by offensive players
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How To Pick The Right Type Of Shoe

  1. Locate your arch type with the assistance of the footprints, also known as The Wet Test.
  2. Determine which category type or cushioning design best suits your running needs.
  3. Determine what the shoe will be used for (i.e. Marathon, Trail Running, Triathlon etc)
  4. Pick a shoe that suits your needs, measure your foot and place your order.

The Basics

A running shoe is designed to cradle the foot, and not just protect it from the pounding, but to optimize a runner’s gait in such a way that a person can run longer and faster without worrying about injury. At its most basic, a running shoe is made up of an outsole, midsole and upper. The outsole is the bottom of the shoe, that durable slab of rubber providing traction throughout the gait cycle. The midsole rests atop the outsole, and provides cushioning and stability. The upper is generally made of mesh, synthetic fabrics or leather, and cocoons the foot.

Just as every run is unique, so every running shoe is designed for a specific type of runner. When selecting a running shoe, take into account the frequency of your training and your performance level. A shoe should fit comfortably and snug, but should not be so tight that your toes press against the front of the shoe or the top of your foot aches from the laces being too tight.

Also, be aware of your gait. The three broad categories that define running shoes — Cushioning, Structured Cushioning, and Maximum Support — enhance gait by working with the natural movement of your foot, providing a more efficient stride. How you pronate plays a great part in a shoe’s ability to enhance your running experience. Pronation is a normal, natural rolling motion that helps to attenuate shock. Some runners find that their foot does not roll all the way in, making the foot work harder to push off properly. This is known as underpronation (or supination). Conversely, a foot that rolls inward too much in known as overpronation. Runners who underpronate (or, supinate) would feel more comfortable with a Cushioning shoe. Overpronators do better with Maximum Support, and those with a more neutral stride would do well with Structured Cushioning.

Pronation is the term used to describe the normal motion of the foot rolling slightly inward through the foot strike. Pronation is essential to shock absorption and forward propulsion. It’s when you overpronate or underpronate (supinate) that you need to be particular about the running shoe you choose.

The Wet Test

help-run-wet-wettest-1

 

This basic test will provide you with a look at your foot imprint. You can use this print to determine your arch shape which guides you in finding a suitable pronation range.

  1. Wet the bottom of your foot
  2. Step onto concrete, a paper towel or any surface that will show an imprint of your foot
  3. Match imprint to one of the arch types below to determine your degree of pronation.

Note: Another way to determine arch type is to look at the outsoles of your old running shoes, although this method is less reliable than the Wet Foot Test. If the sole is worn equally on both sides, you most likely have a normal arch. If you have a flat arch, the sole will show excessive wear on the inside. A high arch usually produces a sole with noticeable wear on the outside.
Quick Tip: You cannot determine arch type by looking at the wear pattern on the heel alone, although this is a common misconception.

Find Your Arch Type / PronationNormal Arch
The most common arch type, the normal arch, leaves a wet print with a flare and a broad band connecting the heel and the forefoot. This foot type is a normal pronator and rolls inward slightly to absorb shock. If you have a normal arch, you’re considered bio-mechanically efficient and don’t need motion control features. The best part about having a normal arch is that you have more freedom when picking a running shoe.

The shoe for you:
Runners with normal arches typically experience minimal biomechanical problems and should select those shoes from the Structured Cushioning Category, or those shoes that meet the needs of the Neutral to Over Pronating runners. Cushion shoes are the most flexible and encourage natural pronation, with added cushioning and extra shock absorption. These shoes do not have stability or motion control features. Or, Stability shoes have light support features on the medial side and well-cushioned midsoles to help guide mild-to-moderate overpronation. Runners with a normal arch can also benefit from light stability features.

help-run-wet-pronation-neutral-1

Flat Arch / Flat Foot
If you see a complete or nearly complete imprint, then you have a Flat Arch. This type of foot is associated with overpronation or an excessive inward roll after heel strike, which generally result in poor natural shock absorption. The flatter the arch, the more support and motion control you need. You’ll need shoes with firm midsoles, flatter soles and pronation-control features. Steer clear of highly-cushioned shoes that lack stability features.

The shoe for you:
Flat footed runners should pick shoes from the Maximum Support Category, Motion Control shoes or those shoes that meet the needs of Over Pronating to Severe Over Pronating runners. Stability shoes have light support features on the medial side and well-cushioned midsoles to help guide mild-to-moderate overpronation. Or, Motion Control shoes incorporate extra stability features on the medial side to help control severe overpronation.

help-run-wet-pronation-over-1

High Arch
The least common arch type, the High Arch, also known as an under-pronated foot, will produce an imprint showing the heel and forefoot connected by only a thin band. This foot type usually doesn’t absorb shock well because it rolls outward or underpronates (also known as supinating).

The shoe for you: A runner with under-pronating feet is more likely to experience shock transmission through the lower legs, and should choose shoes from the Cushioning Category or those shoes that meet the needs of Under Pronating to Neutral runners. Cushion shoes are the most flexible and encourage pronation. They incorporate extra cushioning and shock absorption, and do not have stability or motion control features.

help-run-wet-pronation-under-supination-1

Choose Your Category Type For Your Running Style
All running shoes are not created equal. You’ll want to choose from one the following three categories according to your arch type and degree of pronation.

Structured Cushioning / Stability (neutral to mild overpronators)
Shoes with Structured Cushioning are designed for runners who pronate slightly more than normal and generally have a normal arch. Their foot strike takes place in a neutral to slightly pronated position, using the body’s natural pronation to attenuate shock. Structured Cushioning runners need their shoes to help control a small degree of overpronation, but they don’t need all the shock attenuation attributes of a Cushion segment shoe. Stability shoes have light support features on the medial side and well-cushioned midsoles to help guide mild-to-moderate overpronation. Stability shoes are great for feet with a moderately flat arch and for those with a normal arch.

Cushioning (Underpronaters and mild overpronators)
The Cushioning segment is designed to meet the needs of underpronators to mild overpronators and tend to have a high arch. This type of runner needs a great deal of shock attenuation because they don’t absorb shock naturally through pronation. Their foot either does not pronate at all, or pronates such a small amount that the body can’t attenuate shock in its natural manner. Instead of the body’s connective tissue absorbing shock through pronation, bones and joints take the brunt of the shock. It’s vital that shoes in the Cushioning segment attenuate as much initial impact shock as possible. Cushion shoes are the most flexible and encourage natural pronation, with added cushioning and extra shock absorption. These shoes do not have stability or motion control features. Cushion shoes are best for people with a high arch and also those with a normal arch.

Maximum Support / Motion Control (Mild To Severe Overpronators)
Maximum Support running shoes designed for runners who tend to land in an overtly pronated position with a flat foot. Like the Cushion segment, these runners are not using all their body’s natural shock attenuation mechanisms. What makes them different is that these runners exhibit a large degree of pronation beginning with landing in a pronated state, then continuing past normal. Like the Structured Cushion segment, these runners need help to control the degree of pronation. Motion Control shoes incorporate extra stability features on the medial side to help control severe overpronation. Runners with flat to severely flat arches need the extra support and stability of motion control shoes.

Types of Running Shoes

Distance Runners
These shoes are designed to cater for the needs of marathon runners and longer distance runners, as well as everyone who needs a little more support for their feet.

Racing Flats
Shorter distance runners, i.e. 5 or 10km runners who want to go really fast prefer running with racing flats. These shoes are lightweight and offer less support than distance runners.

Trail
Designed to meet the needs of runners who prefer to take their run off-road. This category offers a range to suit most pronation ranges. Shoes may offer additional features such as water resistant uppers and special tongue construction to help keep debris out.

Cross Training Shoes
Cross training shoes are the most versatile athletic shoe, but aren’t recommended for distance running. Designed for low-impact activities that require lateral support, they’re excellent for the gym, aerobics or step class, etc.

Triathlon
Triathlon shoes are designed with the demands of multiple disciplines in mind. These shoes usually provide excellent fluid dispensation.

Walking Shoes
Walking shoes are heavier and less flexible than running shoes, usually with leather uppers for easy cleaning. While it’s beneficial to walk in a running shoe, never run in a walking shoe.

Court Shoes
Court shoes are designed with better traction for tennis, basketball and netball. The sole is sewn to the upper for durability and support. Great for high-impact, side to side motion.

footwear-size-charts-150x150

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