In professional cricket, fitness can be the difference between winning and losing.
Dubbed the ‘Dad’s Army’, CSK won the IPL11 final. A brilliant hundred by the 36-year-old Shane Watson was an ode to cricket fitness. M.S Dhoni, the captain of this ‘Army’ – a playing XI with an average age of 31 years, said fitness matters more than the age aspect.
The extraordinary cricket played in Twenty20 around the world has changed the approach to 50-over cricket. Players hitting it out of the park in the shorter form of the game, stay longer on the crease timing it well throughout the innings in the longer format.
Rohit Sharma, an attacking batsman in T20, has three one day international double centuries to his name. Playing such intense cricket in the longer format demands a fit body.
Pro cricketers push their limits every other game, will you?
Fitness aspects of cricket – how to improve
A typical game of cricket will have short phases of high intensity with long intervals of rest (relatively low intensity). This seems to be changing with the evolving cricket scene and more high-intensity bursts are witnessed. Specific aspects of fitness are tested during the course of the game.
Whether it’s a batsman slogging a delivery over mid-wicket for a six, or a fielder hitting the wickets from long on, strength plays a major role in your ability to do so. A relativistic view of the workout routines shows how you can enhance your performance with fitness training.
When training for strength, compound movements are more effective over isolated movements.
- Squats – A strong core and legs will ensure you have a good balance and enhance quick athletic movements. When the game comes down to the wire, those quick twos and singles that you steal can be all that is between winning and losing. Increased speed, an essential fitness component in cricket is the most important benefit of training for strength.
- Deadlifts – Strengthen your lower back, hips, and thighs. This exercise routine works your hamstrings, strengthening which is a key to moving quickly in the field. In a 50-over game, saving those singles can make the game for the fielding team. A captain wants players who can move quickly in the field and deliver during the high-intensity bursts. Deadlifts also boost power, and improve grip strength, both important for all roles in the game.
- Lunge with torso twist – A perfect exercise to build strength for your torso, hips, and legs. This compound movement is essential in building strength for on field movements like perfecting the pull shot. A short-pitched delivery has always been a bowler’s go-to option for getting the ball in the air and well taken by safe hands. A pull shot, the answer to such a delivery needs skill and a good balance to get it right. Lunges work on your balance and are a great way to pull that short one with ease.
- Rotator cuffs – These muscle groups are the ones that need training the most. All the aspects of cricket require strong shoulders for a competitive performance. Working on rotator cuffs strengthens your shoulders giving you an added boost in the field. Batting shots for scoring maximum runs, bowling quick Yorkers in the death overs or a quick throw from long on at the keeper’s end to get the batsman out, all are improved and a class apart with strong shoulders.
Improving core strength is essential for your total-body dynamics and to reduce the risk of an injury.
Here are some exercises to help you boost your core strength.
- Complete one-minute planks using a Swiss ball.
- Side planks for 45 seconds in the star position.
- 20 Russian twists with a medicine ball
- 25 crunches
- 25 crunches, this time with your legs up and crossed over
- Placing your feet on the floor, perform 20 dorsal raise
Repeat the exercises 5 times.
Playing for longer matches, a 50-over game where the team is chasing a relatively high score, requires stamina for players in every role. Improving stamina is crucial to your game, as strength alone is not enough for a good performance on the field.
Here’s how you prepare for it.
During intense moments on the field, your body needs more oxygen, and the measurement of the maximum amount of oxygen that you can utilize is termed VO2max.
Performing one of these drills every time you train. This will boost your VO2max and enhance your ability to store and utilize energy.
- Set a start line, to begin with.
- Set the timer for 7 seconds and sprint as fast and as far as you can within the time frame.
- Place a cone to mark the spot where you stopped.
- From there, set the timer for 23 seconds to return to the start line
A block is 5 times the above steps. Aim at completing 10 such blocks. Don’t forget to take a 2-minute recovery break between blocks.
A great cardio workout, Mirror drill is an interesting one too.
- Using cones, set out a square and another right opposite to it, each over an area of 3m
- Stand in one square and have your partner stand in the other facing you
- The partner then starts sprinting in random directions
- Mimic his movement standing in your square
Continue the drill till either of you lose technique or the track of movements. Stop and rest if the both of you are fatigued.
An important aspect of the game is your mind. Successful cricketers have always stressed the importance of frame of mind. Longer matches present many challenges in the course of the game.
Your frame of mind can be the game changer under pressure situations. “Captain cool” as he is known for his calm and cool demeanor, M.S Dhoni has finished nail-biting games, where he had scored 12 runs of the last 2 balls to win, making him known as the world’s best finisher.
The next time you find yourself on the brink of giving up, think of the star you could be with the right frame of mind.
Article by Kshitij Ghate, @kshitijghate5