For my second blog I am going to talk about the physical demands of cricket. In the last five years I have seen a massive switch in the attitudes of the players towards physical training for cricket.
I hear some of our coach’s talk about the days when there was pints of bitter on the tables at lunch, and players would eat full roast dinners for dinner followed by 7 or 8 pints down the local after a day’s play, unfortunately those days have well and truly vanished in the current era of professional cricket.
You only have to look at the recent ashes series to see how fit the players were. At Yorkshire, players report back for training right back at the start of November where they will train 4 times a week up to Christmas, and then go to 5 sessions a week after Christmas.
Players are fitness tested with a bleep test, weights tests, agility tests and body fat tests, and then individual physical training programs will be given out to tailor to the individual’s needs. They will be pushed physically to their limits so that when they come to work on their skills they are physically prepared to the best they can be.
So what sort of training do we do?
There is a large variety of training that go through all year round, and there are lots of different areas that you need to train to help your cricket, but here are a few that I would recommend:-
When you field you are constantly moving in different directions so quick feet are essential to get to the ball fast. Side to side drills is good to improve agility. Put a cone 5 yards in front of you, one 5 yards to your left and one 5 yards to your right, then try to move to each cone as fast as you can returning back to the start after touching each cone.
Speed is also essential; you use it fielding, between the wickets and also in your run up whilst bowling (if you’re a fast bowler). To improve speed we use resistance bands. Try putting 2 resistance bands around your waist with another person holding them at the back of you. Then when you start to run it should feel like you are running through water. Do a number of these and when you take the bands away you will feel you are running quicker in a short space of time. This type of drill will improve the fast twitch muscle fibers that make up your muscles.
The main reason we build strength is for injury prevention, but strength can also help with speed and agility. One way to improve your strength is to use your body weight as resistance. Press ups, sit ups, chin ups, lunges, squats etc. all help you build strength and make you aware of the way your body works. Also, lifting heavier weights with a low number of reps can help build strength but obviously the timing of these sessions must be thought about as it can leave you very stiff and fatigued.
Endurance plays a massive part in cricket. As we have seen from the recent Ashes series, Alistair Cook batted for a stupid amount of time and showed that his endurance and concentration were very good. I once heard a saying that said ‘the fitter you are, the fresher the mind’ and I believe that to be very true. To train your endurance, long distance runs are good but also hill sprint training and shuttles can be just as effective.