In the last over of a tense game, can you rely on yourself to draw on the energy needed to win the match? Lots of club players lack this capacity and it has cost more than one game over the years.
Playing regularly combined with good diet and a good fitness training programme is essential to combating this, but you improve it further with the use of humble caffeine.
Caffeine has been proven to increase time to exhaustion and increase concentration in many studies; one even showing that the effects continue to work several hours after the caffeine is taken. Although this was in cyclists, it's more than likely that cricketers will see similar results.
It certainly seems to help Kevin Pietersen who is said to quaff caffeine packed Red Bull before batting.
It's also well established that caffeine itself is no more likely to dehydrate you than plain water, even when taken in relatively heavy doses. So there is no need to fear the performance drop associated with dehydration.
Caffeine recommendations for cricketers
- Try to avoid caffeine on days that you are not playing. This will improve the effects on match day and is good for general health.
- Beware of side effects that happen to some people like stomach cramps. If you get any negative effects when trying caffeine then stop using it.
- Take enough caffeine to get a feeling of intense concentration rather than becoming 'buzzed' and unfocused. You will need to experiment with the amount which varies between 100-1000mg (approx. 1-9 cups of coffee).
- The ECB follow the World Anti-Doping guidelines on caffeine. Take care not to exceed the acceptable limits.
- It's best to take caffeine at least 3 hours before the start of play.
- Take caffeine in any for you like but remember drinks like coffee can also contain high saturated fats in cream/milk and energy drinks can hold a lot of sugar.
- Never try dosing on caffeine for the first time on a match day. Experiment during training first to ensure you have no ill effects.
If you do choose caffeine as a supplement you have to take care.
There is no one safe level as everyone is different, but certainly a couple of cups of coffee in the morning of a match (if that is your normal routine) is likely to help your game in the afternoon.
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