The game of cricket has changed so much in the past twenty years, with the introduction of One Day and Twenty20 as well as test matches, the game has never been so popular.
It was once considered a game where fitness was never really that important, technical skills were enough, however, the Aussies soon changed all of that with their successes, part of which was put down to their emphasis on fitness of the players.
While each player might have their specialist role, all players have to fulfill each role so a diverse range of fitness is required as well as mental strength, games skills and physical endurance. As any experienced athlete should appreciate, fitness for the sport is a great defence against injury as well as improving performance.
- Core strength
- Explosive upper body power
- Powerful run
- Mental Endurance
- Sprint, dive jump, stretch
- Explosive power in throw
- Strong and flexible core and upper body
- Upper body power
- Mental Alertness
- Explosive power
- Flexible body
- Core strength
Not forgetting the umpire who also needs both physical and mental endurance and alertness.
In addition to the technical skills of the game, training sessions should include endurance fitness, sprint/Speed, Agility, Quickness training, muscular strength and conditioning, flexibility and core strength training.
While practice might make perfect, there is always a risk of where there is repetition, there is overloading and where there is overloading, there is likely to be injury.
Muscles can be kept in good form with regular sports massage and any niggles should be quickly assessed and treated by a sports therapist or physiotherapist. This can help stop a minor injury becoming a major injury and the athlete being sidelined. Likewise, good coaching and a good technique will also help lessen the risk of injury in any sport.
Common injuries in cricketers include:
- Impact injuries – yep! No matter how good you are, there’s every chance you can get hit by the ball! Leading to bruising, swelling and contusions or even fractures. An unavoidable injury?
- Bruising or Fractures to the Fingers – again, getting hit by a rather fast moving ball isn’t good for any part of your body. However, working on a good grip technique has been shown to lessen the damage.
- Lower Back Pain- The repetitive extension and rotation required in all players can lead to muscles strains and even disc damage. Younger players can be at risk of stress fractures due to the repeated loading of the lumbar spine.
- ‘Throwers Elbow’- pretty much the same as ‘Golfers Elbow’ or Medial Epicondylitis to give it its posh name. The technique can be to blame with this so good coaching is required.
- Joint Sprains – commonly the ankle due to twisting ankle when turning at the wickets.
- Shoulder Injuries – commonly rotator cuff injuries due to the repetitive movements of bowlers and batsmen in particular.
- Medial Meniscus Tear- this is a little piece of cartilage which helps protect the knee from stresses and strains. It usually happens due to turning quickly but also can be due to wear and tear.
Preventing injury must always be at the forefront of any athletes training programme but some times injuries are unavoidable. If we can offer a few essential points these would be:
- Find a good team with a reputable, experienced coach(es) – a good coaching team will mix up the training regime to ensure that you are fit for the game as best you can be (let’s face it, we’re not all going to be world class!).
- Do what you can to ensure that you are fit for the game with additional training such as running, brain games (yes, train your brain, you need it!!), sound nutrition and REST! (Your body and brain needs time to repair and recover).
- Have regular sports massages to keep your muscles in good form and your body in as good condition as possible. Got a niggle? Get it seen to ASAP!
Most importantly, where ever you are and who ever you’re playing with, enjoy it!