In Part 1 we discovered that Australian cricketing great Justin Langer has also been a talented martial artist and boxer. He believes that his batting career shared many similarities with the combat sports and he brought many of the concepts, philosophies and training to bear on a record breaking professional career.
Here he tells us more about his life at the highest end of cricket and his exploits in boxing and martial arts.
Creating the foundation to success
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“Batting like boxing is about hands and feet. The essence of great batting is footwork, getting yourself it that correct position and planting that base – usually in a split second – allows the hands to do their job and proper execution of the shot. If you are only marginally in the wrong place or a fraction slow to get there it could be all over. And to deliver a truly telling punch in boxing it literally has to come from the feet and trunk up.”
“By looking to attack you are also in a better position defensively if need be. In both disciplines we operate in confined spaces and are talking about split seconds to think, react and execute correctly. An oncoming punch might only be traveling a matter of inches but you have to deal with it and counter.”
“A very hard cricket ball traveling at 90+mph travels the few yards between bowler and batsman in the blink of an eye.”
“Nothing less than total concentration, focus and a proven technique is enough to avoid dismissal or physical injury – the hands can’t hit what the eyes can’t see!”
Justin’s approach to boxing training and his martial arts is certainly not half-hearted. The Perth man believes in testing himself to the maximum and absorbing all the lessons involved.
He does not cherry pick the easiest or most fun elements.
Skipping, pad and bag work (floor to ceiling being the favourite) and speed ball pounding are major parts of his programme, but he loves nothing better than climbing in the ring (or dojo) and seriously sparring.
“You can simulate all you like but there is no substitute for the real thing. I have fought the likes of Aussie World Champion Danny Crane and, to be honest, he kept hitting me at will and I’ve never felt so battered. But it was about staying in there, staying with him and coming out the other side and the humility that comes with that kind of lesson.”
“A momentary lapse of technique and it is all over. I’ve had the eyes of a cricket mad nation on me as I’ve faced Shoaib Akhtar bowling at 100mph, I’ve stood toe-to-toe with World Champion fighters and believe me they are not too different!”
Boxing training and no-punches-pulled ring combat has been a key aspect of sustaining Langer’s prodigious fitness levels, speed of body and mind, concentration levels and sheer dogged determination that ultimately saw him pass the legendary Don Bradman to become the highest Australian first-class run scorer in history.
Justin Langer didn’t mind ‘roughing it’ to become the best he could be in one of sports ultimate ‘firing line’ positions – Test Match opening batsmen.
If anybody is eager to know more about what makes a great sportsman tick – ‘Seeing the Sunrise’ by Langer is a brilliant self help book with a difference.
Autobiographical and incredibly honest, it concentrates on overcoming self doubt, aiming high, mastering mental and physical goals, fighting adversity and enjoying success.
Justin Langer is currently coach of Western Australia and Perth Scorchers.
Connect with Expert Guy Holland.