Recently I was lucky enough to speak to Michael Boyle, one of the foremost experts sport strength and conditioning in America.
Michael was kind enough to give me a series of tips for cricketers at any level who want to improve their game by being stronger, faster and more powerful.
- Train for speed and power. Cricket is a sport built on fast, powerful movements. Michael was quick to point out that this is what you need to train: "Long runs won't help with cricket. Neither will the light weights and lots of reps crap. Train like a speed and power athlete."
- Workout at least twice a week. Recreational cricketers often have limits on their training time. Outside of skills practice Michael recommends two total body workouts per week. This will give you the most bang for your buck even when you don't have a moment to spare.
- Don't avoid 'functional' training. For Michael, Functional training is not about balls and bands and balance: "It's about concepts that make sense". He explains these concepts in his book with the basic idea that all training is based on the way your body is used during competition.
- Eat for endurance. Michael is also quick to put aside the need for cricketers to develop endurance for long days in the field. "Train for speed and power. Eat for duration." That means looking at how well you are fuelling yourself: "Check out John Berardi's stuff and look into Cytofuse."
- You can never have enough speed or power. I have never heard a commentator say a player is too fast or powerful for cricket. It's an excellent aim to become the best at both in your club. This is an idea Michael believes in too: "The most important factor in sports in strength, second is speed. Most people don't have enough of either."
- Beware of CNS fatigue. Central nervous system fatigue may occur in athletes who have been training hard for 2 years or more. put simply, no matter how hard you train improvements don't come. If you are in this situation Michael has simple advice: "I think less will be more for some experienced trainees."
- Bowling isn't done with the arms. "Bowling is done with the legs and core, not the arms." He tells me. Power is certainly from the ground up (just try throwing a ball in a canoe if you don't believe that) then is transferred through the core. That means inefficient legs, trunk and shoulders means slower bowling. Again the answer is simple: "The key is to train the lower body."
- Use a medicine ball. Michael calls medicine ball training plyometrics for the upper body. A med ball is a worthwhile investment for anyone who throws or bowls to prevent injury and improve power. You can get a DVD on training with a med ball from Michael's site.
- Stand out from the crowd. Michael has worked with baseball players and boxers whose sport has no culture of fitness training. His advice is to keep educating. That means standing out from the crowd: Warming up and cooling down even if nobody else will and making time for fitness in between games.
This is sound advice from a coach who comes from outside of cricket but with a spotless reputation. Michael has many years experience of getting the best from athletes in a range of sports.
To get more on his approach to training check www.michaelboyle.biz and buy his "Functional Training for Sport" book: A comprehensive guide to improving your athleticism.
© Copyright miSport Holdings Ltd 2008