Fitness for Cricket – Part Three

Fitness for Cricket
Fast Bowling

 

 

by Kevin Keys

Team Spirit

A good team spirit will undoubtedly aid the potential for strong personal performance. Humour will lessen tension and anxiety; appropriate discipline will help focus practice routines. Team warm-up games and collective stretching routines help develop a collective team purpose and a sense of enjoyment belonging to the team. These will lead to a general feeling of both individual and team optimism, leading to all involved being in the right frame of mind in which to play the game.

Injuries

A cricketer who is improperly conditioned (unfit) to play cricket is more likely to suffer an injury than one who has followed a regular fitness training program. This is because tiredness or lack of coordination leads to faulty movements and loss of concentration.

If you are unlucky enough to suffer an injury, make sure that you are fully recovered before resuming training or playing. If you have suffered a muscle strain injury, you must be able to play without pain when the affected muscle has been tested to full stretch. This enforced period of rest should not, however, be used as an excuse to do nothing. You should use it as an opportunity to get fit to play. For example, if you have suffered a broken finger or an injured ankle, you can still exercise to maintain a good level of fitness.

This is especially important for young pace bowlers who suffer from sore backs or side strains. If you suffer such an injury, it is important that you get a respected bowling coach to check out the safety of your bowling action. Many a promising young pace bowler had his career ruined by continuing to bowl after such an injury with an unsafe bowling action.

Cricket is a game where there is a risk of injury. In tables of injury rates it is close behind the contact sports of rugby, league, football and hockey. Ball impact injuries have lessened in the last ten years with the almost universal use of batting helmets and thigh guards by today’s young cricketers. With today’s emphasis on health and safety it is important that schools, clubs, players and officials do all that is reasonably possible to lessen the chances of injuries.

Some of these requirements include:

  • ensuring a flat outfield.
  • ensuring good footing for bowlers in their run-ups and delivery strides.
  • ensuring artificial pitches are flush with the surrounding outfield.
  • ensuring watering outlets are carefully covered and flush with the outfield.
  • ensuring outdoor and indoor nets have no holes and the run-ups and crease areas are flat and not subject to slippage.
  • ensuring the playing and practice pitches are flat and clear of debris.
  • ensuring that players are wearing suitable socks and footwear with good shock-absorbency.
  • ensuring that all batsmen wear good quality, appropriate and suitably sized, protective equipment such as batting helmets, leather batting gloves, thigh pads, groin protector (box), and batting pads.
  • ensuring that the team’s wicket-keeper is wearing good quality, close-fitting wicket-keeping gloves and a mouth guard. It is encouraging to see many young wicket-keepers wearing protective helmets when standing up to the stumps
  • ensuring pace bowlers wear heavy long-sleeved sweaters after completing a bowling spell in order to keep the back and shoulders warm, especially on a cold day.

In Summary

As a young cricketer you should not be given, or be forced to undertake, too rigorous a training routine while you are undergoing your growth phases. The major emphasis should be on acquiring skills and improving technique. Most of you will have achieved sufficient general fitness from your winter sport program and/or your school physical education program.

If you are a young fast bowler, you must listen to any warning signals your body is giving you and avoid over-bowling. Get the safety of your bowling action checked out three or four times a year as it is easy for unsafe bad habits to creep in without you noticing them. Avoid trying too hard when training indoors on hard surfaces as many a young bowler has developed stress fractures in his teenage years through this practice.