How to train like a professional cricket player
It’s known as “the gentleman’s game”, and for a long time cricketers have trained like gentlemen too, hitting the nets once a week and knocking back a carton after a game.
But with the advent of shorter forms like 20/20, increased pay packets and pressure to perform, that’s all changing. Modern cricketers have to be explosively quick between the wickets and have enough strength to bowl balls as mind-bogglingly fast as 160km/h.
Jarrod Egan, former strength and conditioning coach of the West End Redbacks and co-founder of KettleFit, gives ninemsn Coach a behind the scenes look at how a modern cricketer must prepare for game day.
Your training should reflect your role in the team
Cricket is by and large a technique-driven sport. Whether you’re a batter or a bowler, the core of any cricket training program should be repeated efforts honing your technique in the nets and out on the pitch.
But when it comes to strength and conditioning, each player has an individual program that’s as specific as their position on the field.
“We have different programs for different athletes. There’s a different way of training fast bowlers, spin bowlers, batsmen, wicketkeepers and all-rounders,” says Egan.
“This is because each speciality in the game utilises a totally different set of muscles and movements – for instance it wouldn’t make sense to have 40 or 50-over bowler training the same as a batsman.”
Get stronger to prevent injury
The travel demands of international cricketers can be so heavy that they get as few as five weeks off a year. This creates a training and competing load that makes them highly susceptible to injuries, says Egan. Strength work for professional cricketers is therefore more about longevity and injury prevention.
“If you look at the sheer amount of force that a fast bowler is applying to their front foot at the delivery of each ball, it’s simply enormous,” says Egan.
“The explosive power delivered in one go by bowlers is second only to javelin throwers. That means we have to focus a lot on the hamstring and glute strength of players to minimise the damage that these explosive movements can produce.”
Build your speed for lightning-fast bowling and quick runs
If there’s a common performance need for all cricketers, it’s speed. Whether you’re sprinting between wickets as a batsman, or charging down the pitch as a bowler, the quicker you can become the more wickets you’ll take and runs you’ll score.
“In the off-season, for professional cricketers we would have them do a comprehensive speed program, which would typically involve two sessions a week with things like agility drills and short, intense sprints,” says Egan.
“Even your average grade or weekend cricketer would benefit enormously from practicing speed and strength work outside of cricket training. In fact the main difference between professional and park cricket is the speed and power with which the players perform movements.”
How to train like a professional cricket player at home
Egan recommends the use of kettlebells as an effective and sport-specific way to train for cricket, because they closely mimic movements you’ll do out on the oval.
“I’m surprised more people haven’t cottoned on to how effective kettlebell movements can be for cricket,” says Egan.
“Movements like the snatch and swing are all about swinging and producing power through an arc – just like you would when bowling a ball or swinging a bat across your body.”
He also recommends that cricketers in the off-season should use their time to increase the volume and technique of their throwing, just like the professionals do.
“By incorporating a throwing progression plan – for example throwing a ball 40 times just 10 metres, then 20 metres and so on – is a great way to condition your shoulders and reduce injury.”
“Remember that throwing should be a fluid, full-body movement. It’s best to start practising it in slow motion and then slowly build up your speed and distance as your technique gets better.”
Egan recommends that batsman in particular should focus on training with their pads on, as this closer replicates what they’ll be doing in the game.
“A great drill we’d do at the Redbacks was to get the batsmen kitted up in their pads and then call out different runs, like doubles and triples, to increase their speed between the wickets,” says Egan.
“It sound easy, but when you’re sprinting 100 percent flat out over 20 metres multiple times, you quickly realise just how much work these batsman are doing in shorter forms of the game like 20/20s.”
If you’re interested in strength and conditioning training for cricket, Jarrod Egan can help provide a tailored program by contacting him at KettleFit .