Why Ian Botham is wrong about cricket fitness

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You have to hand it to Beefy, he sticks to his guns long after he has finished playing. When it comes to cricket fitness though, he is wrong.

The offence in question was a comment he made during the World Cup Super 8 match between New Zealand and Bangladesh. A New Zealand bowler had hurt his calf in a similar way to Australia's Shane Watson so the commentators were discussing why this would happen twice in a row.

The great man, never one for fitness training while he was a player, put it down to the gym.

Watson, he argued, was too muscular with short, stiff muscles which made them more likely to break.

This is poppycock.

Strong muscles that are trained with weights are not made any shorter or less mobile than muscles trained by just playing cricket.

In fact, study after study has shown that stronger muscles, ligaments and tendons actually reduce the risk of injury while playing sport.

Sorry Both. You are barking up the wrong tree there.

Why Ian Botham is right about cricket fitness

I don't want to write of the greatest English all-rounder ever though. He did make some good points too.

You do need to play cricket because fitness is highly specific. You can't just do weight training. You need to be athletic, fast and mobile and that means training in that way with efficient warm ups, 'general sport' training and lots of skill practice.

You also can't train too much at the wrong time. Overtraining does increase your risk of injury if you don't give your body time to recover between training and playing. An intense plyometric session the day before the match or training/playing 7 days a week is a recipe for an injury.

So Ian Botham was wrong that the gym makes players weak and inflexible. Of course it doesn't! He was right too you do need to be highly specific and focussed while getting adequate rest.

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Comments

[...] 5 Myths about fitness training (hint: lifting weights does not make you inflexible). [...]

I disagree. What Ian Botham was referring to is over musculature of the human body. An excess in muscle hypertrophy results in loss of speed of contraction and ease of movement around a joint, thus reducing the ability to bowl fast and have the limbs move in the correct planes and pathways that they are needed to move in.

To rectify this, when weight training, stretch after the session. This will assist in building more muscle motor units in series which enables faster contraction of the muscle with less energy expenditure, whereas none stretching will result int he motor units being built in parallel and size gains become the main part of the muscle and require the muscle to use more energy to fire and contract thus creating a slower contraction speed adn slower bowling speed.

I agree to a point. An excess of muscle can cause loss of speed. Stretching (both active and passive) is a superb way to improve flexibility and mobility but I'm not sure about the motor unit thing.

The key is the word EXCESS. Muscle size comes about through increased numbers of muscle fibres which is a by product of breakdown and supercompensation in the muscle. Most typically from high volume training (high reps, high number of sets and focus on single joint exercises) combined with overeating (especially carbohydrates).

As long as you stick to reasonable volumes, a lower rep range (say 3-6 reps), base your training on multi joint movements and do not overeat while keeping carbs to a moderate level you should get stronger rather than bigger. Combine this with stretching, skill training and power specific work then you have nothing to worry about.

My point about Beefy was not that excess muscle is a good thing. It was to say that the myth of short, inflexible muscles making you too 'bulky' is one we need to quash. It just is not true.

Couldn't agree more. One fine example is Shoaib Akhtar in his good days (a couple of years ago). Commentators jokingly stated that if Akhtar couldn't succeed in cricket, he could start up a career in body building. Being bulky and built, Shoaib still bowled as fast as he ever had with similiar results. I went back and had a look, and most of his injuries were normal fast bowling related injuries that happen to all fast bowlers.

Every one including Ian Botham has missed the point.

Botham was responding to a players calf injury. That can happen for various reasons and its nothing to do with short muscles, gym, flexibility etc. Watson got pretty messed up with this kind of wrong feedback.

The latest research says calf cramps can arise with fatigue and its motor neurons shutting down the muscle to prevent injury.It is not really to do with hydration etc.

here is a link

http://www.sportsscientists.com/search?q=calf+cramps

Is that not what I said? Sorry for not being clear enough, it was what I trying to say.

Enjoy the link on the calf cramps David. there is some very good research there.

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