Keeping fit off the pitch
A cricket player’s fitness and stamina on the pitch is determined by what they do off the pitch. As a sport based on fast, powerful movements it is essential to incorporate strength training into your fitness routine to improve your game.
Strength training for batsmen
There’s a physical demand on a cricketer’s body that requires the right strengthening and conditioning. As a batsman, you are using your whole body to perform a fluid movement. Mobility, strength and aerobic fitness make up the repertoire of a batsman. You should also consider how your strength as a batsman is affected by your gear, in terms of your pads or the bat you use. Because of this, you should focusing on each of these in your gym training program.
For batting, you rely upon the muscles in your back, shoulders and biceps. You’re also engaging your core muscles to help turn the body as you swing the bat. Because of this, your strength training should focus on compound movements such as:
- Bicep curls
- Hammer rows
- Close-grip pull-ups
- Overhead presses such as military presses
- Hitting the triceps with dips and tricep extensions will help to develop that explosiveness needed to bring the bat forward.
- Round your routine off with core exercises such as planks and variations of crunches.
Strength training for bowlers
Bowling is another full-body movement but with more focus on the dominant bowling arm. Bowlers generally notice their bowling arm has more strength and muscle tone due to the repetitive movement. The abdominals, obliques and back muscles also benefit from a strengthening program since they are primarily used to twist the body as the bowler sprints and releases the ball.
It is advised to focus on rotator cuff strengthening, rotator strength and explosive movement. The rotator cuff contains the ligaments that support the arm at the shoulder. In fast bowling, the shoulder internally and externally rotates as the hip and core muscles stabilize and power the movement.
Specific exercises can include:
- Dumbbell flys.
- Cable internal & external rotations. Aim for a 10-15 rep range focusing on proper form.
- For abs, try medicine ball slams to help strengthen the stabilising muscles.
Strength training for fielding
Fielders perform a lot of abrupt stopping and explosive speed while out on the pitch. Because of this, focusing on lower body strength for speed and agility and chest & shoulder exercises for throwing the ball could benefit your on-pitch performance.
- To warm-up perform a box jump prior to your strength training workout. The benefit of a box jump is that it increases your explosiveness. Start out by performing 3-5 reps at a challenging height.
- Squats, walking lunges, and single-leg deadlifts with a jump activates those muscles required for speed, power and performance.
- For shoulder and chest strength, look at incorporating shoulder presses and lat-pulldowns during your training program.
- Another great exercise for field cricketers is frog squats, as this movement can help aid in fielding ground balls. 2 – 4 sessions a week will help to strengthen and condition your whole body.
- As fielders spend long periods on their feet alternating between standing still and sprinting, be sure to round off your strength program with aerobic training such as running, rowing or cycling.
3 Essential stretches for cricketers
Batting, bowling, and fielding all carry a risk of injury. You’re putting a lot of stress on the body with repetitive movement and long periods of play. Stretching may seem like a small part of your strength training program but it plays a vital role. Try these stretches after your strength training program to prevent injury and maintain on-field performance:
- Hip abductor stretch: In a kneeling position, bring the right leg out in front and push your left hip forward until you feel a stretch in the left hip. Repeat on other side.
- Pectoral stretch: Standing sideways against a wall with one foot in front of the other, bring your back arm against the wall behind you and gently press the arm against the wall by rotating slightly toward the left.
- Side stretch: Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, bring the arms up to the ceiling clasping the hands together. Slowly bend to one side feeling a stretch in the side body. Repeat on the other side.
No matter what level you’re at as a cricket player, strength training will improve your game and overall performance by increasing agility and fitness. Cricket is a technique-driven sport, where strength & conditioning should be tailored to your specific role in the game. Get stronger to prevent injury, build your explosive speed, and increase optimal performance with a stretching program.
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