Mohammed emailed me recently with a question.
"I'm fast bowler, however my stamina is very low. After 3 or 4 overs I get tired quickly. Can you please tell me the exercises and nutrition that I should take in order to improve my stamina and reduce my belly?"
This is a common question, especially with bowlers. Not having the capacity to bowl at your best must be frustrating. It certainly is for the rest of the team.
What is fast bowling stamina? '
Stamina' in bowling terms is really a your ability to repeat your bowling action many times without loss of technique, speed or accuracy. In short the more stamina you have the longer it takes to get tired and the less effect that tiredness has on your bowling speed and accuracy. Here are 8 ways you can develop this.
- Bowl as much as you can. There is nothing more specific to cricket than playing cricket. Whenever you get the chance then bowl. You can head down the nets on your own with some old balls and something to use as a target if there is noone around to train with you. Bowl in overs with a few minutes rest between if you can to make things more realistic or play as many games as possible. Every time you hit the nets try and bowl a few more overs before you have a rest. Always bowl at top speed too, a shorter intensive burst is more beneficial than going through the motions for longer.
- Train while you are tired. Every now and again, do some bowling when you are physically tired, perhaps at the end of a training session or workout. This will teach you to bowl with intensity even when you feel the tiredness coming on. It's important not to do this too often or on your own. Train with another bowler or batter who can watch your technique and let you know when it starts to go. As soon as your action fails you, stop for the day.
- Run to build work capacity. Running is the next best thing to bowling for increasing your stamina. I'm not averse to rowing either but running should be your number one method. Use interval training to build up your lung capacity and ability to hold off the build up of lactic acid. Intervals are also better for reducing your body fat without causing loss of strength. Long, slow runs are not only a bit boring for most cricketers, but they reduce your ability to bowl quickly by turning fast powerful muscle fibres into slow fibres for, you guessed it, slow jogging.
- Use the winter wisely. Off-season training is the time when you can make the most improvements. If cricket is your main (or only sport) and you have a long winter ahead then use it to develop you endurance through lots of running and some cross training. Most winter sports will also get you fit so consider taking up a game you enjoy playing. If you play all year round consider taking a break of 2-3 months from cricket to really focus on developing your fitness. The short-term loss in games will turn into a long-term gain.
- Eat more lean protein and good fat. We tend to eat lots of protein but it's usually high in saturated fat. Go for lean options like tuna, chicken, turkey or lean cuts of beef and combine it with a balance of fats from sources like avocados, mixed nuts and olive oil. Reasearch has found this fills you up quicker allowing you to lose weight while having a positive effect on your health.
- Eat more vegetables. Vegetables give you energy and contain essential nutrients for health. Eat at least a portion of veg with every meal, preferably every 2-3 hours. This will fill you up more meaning you will lose excess fat but still provide you with enough energy for everyday living.
- Eat less carbohydrate. Carbs have always been associated with energy but generally we eat too much for playing cricket, after all it's a power sport not a marathon. High carb food like crisps, chocolate, bread and pasta should really only be eaten once a day at most if you are trying to lose weight and build stamina. Carbs are not the enemy though. Make sure you keep your energy levels up during and after hard training or playing with some carbs combined with protein. Hard training isn't 3 or 4 overs in the nets though. It's weight lifting or interval training at high intensity.
- Strength train. Combine your running and cricket sessions with strength training of some kind at least twice a week. This will keep your strength and power levels high and make sure you only lose fat, not muscle while building endurance. Lift with heavy weight and low reps if you can to counter balance the endurance training. Avoid high reps and low weights but bodyweight training is a good compromise if you are not keen on going to the gym.