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Influence of Design on Sports

Design is an integral part of our life. In fact life itself is a small part of a grand design called the Universe. Design influences our everyday life to the extent that we may be able to say that we can take ourselves out of the design but we cannot take design out of us.So, how can sports be an exception to that? Design has influenced sports to an unimaginable extent. Let’s compare design of sports equipment in the 1970s to that of today.

Let’s take the example of cricket. The cricket bats of that period were very different from what we see today. Earlier, players needed to time the ball perfectly to earn boundaries, while nowadays you will even see edges flying over the fences. That is why many times you will hear commentators saying, “Cricket is played differently nowadays!” Today’s cricket bats have taken the power of hitting to a new level—there’s no doubt about that. But one more thing that has contributed to a great extent in run scoring and in changing the game is change in the design of helmets. If you compare helmets used by players in 1970s-1980s to that of today’s helmets you will notice the difference. Earlier bouncers used to be weapons for the bowlers and due to almost no protection provided by helmets, batsmen were always skeptical in playing pull or hook shots; rather they were happy in letting the bouncers go into the wicketkeeper’s gloves! Today you see batsmen getting hit on their heads, but still being ready to face the next ball in a matter of a few seconds. Not just that, they are fully geared to hit the ball to the fences. However, this scene was not to be seen in the past. Instead, because of poor protection from their helmets, once the batsmen got hit by the bouncer, it meant curtains to their innings. The present-day helmets have given batsmen confidence and their bats have given them the strength to hit—this means more and more runs are being scored and the game has seen a dramatic shift. Bat and helmet are the two reasons why you see shots like Dilscoop, switch hit, etc.


Cricket bat in the 1970’s


Cricket bat in 2013



Cricket helmet in the 1970’s


Cricket helmet in 2013

Cricket is not the only sports influenced by design changes; rather we can say that almost each and every sport has seen a revolution due to design changes.

Let’s take one more example of one more popular sport – tennis. Nowadays so many aces fly all across the court. Along with the strength of the players, one significant factor behind these aces is the design of modern day racquets. Without these racquets, a serve ranging up to 260 kmph would not have been possible. If you compare the racquets used in the 1970s to current racquets, you will see the difference and also the major reason for players serving and hitting so fast these days.


Tennis racquet in the 1970’s


Tennis racquet in 2013

New generation hard hitting “Mongoose” cricket bats are already here. They have already started influencing the T20 Cricket. How design will shape the future of sports? Only time will tell.

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