If you want success on the pitch, it's vital to know how to maintain your fitness during a long hard season.
You have worked hard in the winter so you will not want to lose your cricket-specific strength and speed, but playing and training is hard work in itself so the quandary is how to train efficiently without overtraining yourself. You want to maintain, not strain.
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- Train with resistance. Don't make the mistake of using fielding drills to maintain fitness. While drills will ensure you have good endurance, they won't do a thing for your speed, injury prevention or strength. To keep up these factors you must train once or twice a week with enough resistance to keep on overloading your system. You can use bodyweight or go to the gym but you can't skip it.
- Use compound movements. Training your arms with dumbbell curls might give you great â€˜guns' but it won't help your cricket. Instead use movements that move multiple joints at once; like squats, press ups or cleans. Not only do you get more athletic doing this, you spend less time on strength training so you don't get too exhausted to play. (Plus you get great guns too.)
- Avoid light weights. Light weights mean more reps to get a result. More reps are less good at developing cricket specific strength and power plus they tire you out. It's far better to pick a heavier weight you can do for 3-5 reps. You will be in and out of the gym faster, maintain your strength levels and don't have to worry about getting too big to play (unless you were also eating about 5000 calories a day and training 5 times a week â€“ which you don't want to be doing, believe me).
- Keep it short and intense. Whether you are practising cricket skills or in the gym, its far better to go short with high intensity. Firstly it's more specific to cricket to train at â€˜game intensity' and second it helps you avoid fatigue while still maintaining your fitness. Keep weight lifting sessions to 30 mins by doing circuit training or supersets and low reps.
- Rest the day before a match. No matter how you have trained in the week, avoid any intense work the day before a match. Light activity is great (playing with kids, swimming, walking) but anything more risks reduced performance and injury. Instead focus on getting plenty of rest and drink lots of water.
- Eat well. Avoid junk food as it slows recovery between matches. Drink plenty of water and get lots of vegetables, good fats and lean protein (meat, fish). If you can, get to grips with Dr. John Berardi's habits of effective eating. These will help you keep the fat off and the muscle on which has clear benefits to your game.