You wouldn’t catch Bradman doing it: Warne only ever bent down to the floor to pick up a stray chip.
As contributor to PitchVision Academy AB says; “in my experience, the limiting factor in most cricketer's games is a combination of technique and cricketing intelligence, not strength and fitness.”
And he’s right... so what gives with the title of this article?
Simple: it’s not an either/or situation.
As a cricketer you have a choice presented to you. You can be skilful; you can be athletic; you can be both or you can be neither.
Most good players are both.
Yes there are the outliers that challenge the reality, but if you track, say, professional cricketers on a graph that compares skill and fitness you will find most of them in the top corner:
Why do cricketers get fit?
Of course, correlation is not cause. Just because good players are mostly fit does not mean getting fit will make you good.
So when you have very little time, you need to know exactly what gives you the best results.
Here are 4 reasons why, when considering how you approach cricket, you should ensure deadlifting is a very high priority.
1. You are developing a primal pattern
Picture a baby picking a toy off the floor.
They deadlift it; or more accurately they hip hinge, then extend and pick it up. The movement is instinctively built into all of us from the days we can first walk.
As adults we sit around on our computers and in our cars and in front of our TVs and our brains forget how to do this well.
We bend over with stiff legs and groan as we stand up.
Then we go off and play cricket and wonder why we don’t run as fast as we used to, and our back hurts a bit and our hips feel tight and stiff.
Yes, all these things can be overcome with enough skill and nous.
Ask yourself though: why would you make life hard for yourself when you can correct these issues by simply relearning something that you already knew how to do as a baby?
That’s the deadlift.
Like our kid in nappies, you don’t need to heft huge amounts to learn patterns.
In fact, if you are new to deadlifting it’s important to get your basic core stability and mobility in place by using simple variations of the hip hinge and extension movement:
- Goblet Deadlift with a dumbbell or kettlebell
- Resistance band deadlift
- Trap bar deadlift
- Sumo deadlift
- Rack pull
Once that pattern is back in place (and the neutral spine that goes with it) you have learned how to avoid aches, pains and even injuries. Your shoulders are more stable. Your back is healthy. Your glutes are strong anfd firing correctly. Heck, even your poas is better behaved.
So if you want those wicket and runs to be easier, you have to have that pattern nailed.
2. You improve your mental strength
Picking up something heavy from the floor is hard. It’s as much a test of your mental strength to front up to the bar and make that lift even through you have never done it before.
You fear your spine is going to pop right out of you.
Then the next day it hurts.
Then you have to go do it again, with even more weight.
That’s why most people don’t do it.
Sure, we make excuses like it’s bad for our knees and back or that it will make us bulky or that it won’t help out game.
These are lies we tell ourselves to make us feel better about wimping out.
When you deadlift you know what it’s like to face something you have never done before and succeed. You know how to make scarifies to achieve success. You know that you can’t ever give up.
And you take that feeling of pride and success and achievement onto the field with you.
It’s a pure confidence thing.
You know you are strong. You know you are fitter than anyone else on the park and you know that if you keep striving you will break through.
You can lie to yourself but you can’t lie to the weight on the bar, and you can lie to the runs and wickets column.
For me there is no doubt that confidence learned in the gym gives you confidence on the park.
3. Deadlifting is measurable
Like all sport, cricket contains elements that are out of your control. If you get a great first ball and nick off you are out for nought through no fault of your own.
That makes it hard to measure your improvements, and as we all know, objective measurements are the best way to improve your cricket rapidly.
Deadlifting makes it simple to measure things.
Sure, it’s a measure of strength rather than skill, but in a world of uncontrollables the bar is totally controllable.
You either lifted 100kg or you didn’t.
No grey area.
So it’s another confidence thing. As humans we feel better if we are in control. The more relaxed we feel the better we play. Deadlifting give you that control in a measurable way.
4. Deadlifting improves your power
As well as preventing injuries through improved posture; shoulder stability and glute development, the deadlift has a key role in improving performance.
All cricketers need power: fast bowlers need it to bowl fast, fielders need it to throw hard and run fast, batsmen need it to hit boundaries and spinners need it to put revolutions on the ball.
Yes, you can get away without power - batsmen with good timing alone can score well enough - but how much easier do things become when you know you can put the ball away with force OR timing if you are striving for an edge against your local rivals?
Plus, power is the first thing you lose as you start to age. Power ebbs away if you let it happen but with regular training you will entirely prevent it from happening.
Let me say it again: entirely prevent it.
Meaning you can be as powerful at age 50 as you are at 20.
That’s good to know, even if you play village cricket.
And that’s my big 4.
Will deadlifting make you an international cricketer?
Can you become a star player without deadlifting.
It’s possible (although it’s getting harder every year).
But look at the big picture.
Deadlifting in the off season will give you that at a time when perhaps you can’t work as hard in the nets.
Then in-season you can focus on maintaining your gains with a couple of gym sessions a week.
It’s no great imposition considering the massive benefits for everyone who plays cricket.
Just don’t let it eat into quality skill and tactical training: you can do both and everyone should in my book.