This article is part of a series designed to show you how to adapt cricket drills for your needs. To see the full list of articles in this series click here.
By now you realise that strength is the cornerstone of cricket-specific athleticism. Without strength you can’t develop skill.
But coaches are brought up on teaching skills first. Strength is ignored. It’s a costly mistake, even for those coaching young players at club level.
Sadly, most players are not going to take the ideal route and go to a gym, especially those under 18. If that is true it becomes the job of the coach to make sure strength is covered. This is a vital point. So much so that I would say you need to cover strength before conditioning, speed or agility.
Even from the age of 8-9, players can learn to get stronger in the basic patterns that underpin all cricket skills. These are:
You must put drills into your sessions to improve strength in every one of these patterns if you are to get the best from your players. So how do you do it with limited time, knowledge and resources?
The secret is to start simple.
Imagine you are in a field with 15 young cricketers. You have no equipment beyond normal cricket gear and you have 2 hours to fill. You start with a warm up that you can extend to bodyweight strength drills. Focus on technique, just like you would with cricket skills and set up a circuit basic circuit such as:
- Bodyweight squat
- Bodyweight split squat
- Press Up
- Chin Up
If players can do these movement easily and with good technique for 2 rounds of 10-12 reps (5 reps for the chin up, 30 seconds for the plank) then you can progress the difficulty.
You can add resistance. The easiest way without having weights handy is with resistance bands.
You can also make the movement more dynamic. So a jump squat is harder than a squat. A lunge is harder than a split squat. It’s a common mistake to start with the dynamic movement (i.e. lunges) but when you are training strength remember to start as simple as possible and progress.
The final progression is to reduce stability. For example, to make a plank harder you can have a player lift one foot off the ground or go from a double leg squat to a single leg squat.
Eventually this type of strength drill will not be enough and you have to hit the gym to progress further. However, everyone who avoids the gym from 8-80 will benefit from the strength improvements you will see as you move through progressions with good technique.
The whole process should take less than 20 minutes from your coaching sessions and you will see better cricketers as a result.
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