Today is the first in an occasional series by harrowdrive reader and cricketer Shaaz. He is a 14 year old all rounder who has already played for the UAE Under 15's, Young Talent Cricket Academy and Talent Cricket Club. In the future he plans on a long and illustrious International career. Follow his progress here.
In this first post Shaaz introduces us to his training.
My goals are very very high. People say it will take a lot of hard work, but I enjoy every moment of it. Practice is like having food: I enjoy it and I have no choice but do it!
I train anyway I like to, wherever I go. I usually use new methods of warming up. Rather than running straight and far, I find a long strip of grassy area, take a ball in my hand and do underarm throws. I see a stump in my mind and I throw at it. Then I pick up the ball again and repeat.
Sometimes I keep two stones about 40m apart, throw at one, then run full speed pick up and throw at the one at the farther end. I always see the batsman running and me getting them out.
Sometimes I just continuously run up and down my staircase. Upstairs with long steps and downstairs with short quick steps. Also, if I find an area with lots of trees I just run around them twisting and turning at full speed, and also if there is some kind of a natural hurdle, I jump over them or slide through below. I enjoy every bit of it.
About my static stretches, I don't know how much I do, but I do them whenever I feel like through my running. I stop, do a stretch and continue running. I do general dynamic stretches for 10 minutes at the beginning.
The most significant stretch, as a fast bowler, are my hip flexors. I feel it's very important for me to stretch them because they hurt after I play. I also do some exercises which build long-term strength and flexibility, and also raises the core temperature. I found them in an article called "Train Like An Animal"
After 20-40 minutes warming up I continue my training. Whatever my training might be, it's a lot about using my mind. If you see the ball you're about to bowl in your mind, you have a better chance of bowling it. Every time I bowl a good ball, I take a few seconds to remember the feel. So before I bowl, I get the feel of the ball and I know I'll bowl it. It's like I have already bowled it! Like buying some furniture and waiting for delivery. You know it's yours, but you have to wait a few days before it gets home.
In batting training, I don't focus too much on improving my cover drive or getting my foot work right. I usually use a plastic baseball bat, a stump or may be even a cricket bat and hit a tape ball or tennis ball on the wall and hit it again on the rebound. Also, I take a cricket bat and a cricket ball and throw on the wall and practice. Here again I focus on getting the feel of the ball hitting the middle of the bat.
For bowling, well all I do is bowl, bowl and bowl. I also imagine myself bowling to real batsmen and bowl according to their weakness. If I bowl a ball pitching just outside off stump and swinging away, then a certain kind of player would leave it. So I bowl 2 balls on the same spot, and I make the next one swing in to the stumps. I do stuff like that so my wicket taking know-how is high. I even practice bowling to imaginary left handers, have my own imaginary field setting and even imaginary matches with certain targets to defend.
I also do strength training - squats, press-ups, dips, crunches and the like. I follow the principle of progressive overload, but I don't do these on a daily basis. I also do quite a bit of interval running. Our coach adds a bit of fun into sprints by pairing two players and assigning another one to chase them over a small area.
I have lots to improve, but I believe it'll be easy if I have my goal in mind.