Wicketkeeping is a tough job. It’s made more difficult when you have been keeping a lot because your hands get bruised and sore.
When the ball thuds into your gloves hard and you wince, it’s only natural to become reluctant to catch the ball. When that happens you start making simple mistakes and looking foolish.
Just ask MS Dhoni.
In club cricket you could easily keep 3 or 4 times a week with games and practice, meaning your hands have no time to recover between games.
And let’s be honest; you are not going to take a week off are you?
So here are some strategies to get through those times and keep your glovework at its best.
Make the ball melt into your gloves
Great wicketkeepers catch the ball with a smooth, soft technique: It melts into the gloves even at very high speeds.
This naturally reduces the chances of making your hands worse because the ball is hitting your glove in the “sweet spot” and you barely feel it going in.
While this style does come easier to some, it’s a skill that can be taught with enough of the right practice. Yes, it means a lot of drilling but you don’t need a lot of fancy, expensive equipment.
Technically, good catching is made up of:
- Strong posture and hand positioning
- Effective footwork
- Good hand-eye coordination
All these skills can be learned; you can get the drills here.
Practice with a soft ball
While you increase your practice sessions to get better hands, you also increase the number of balls you catch. This could be a catch 22 of pain but its fine when you use a tennis ball.
Some players think this is a kind of climb down. If you are in that category, put your pride to one side (and the mocking of your team mates) and use a soft ball.
It saves your hands while you improve technique.
It makes you focus on catching with strong hands because the soft ball bounces out easier.
You can do almost all your drills with a tennis ball or incrediball. So why would you use a hard ball and keep those bruises up?
Eat anti-inflammatory food
While rest is the only way to reduce bruising you can also help the bruises go more quickly by eating healthily. Healthy foods are able to reduce inflammation and bruising naturally.
In particular, focus on eating foods high in omega 3 fats, fruit and vegetables.
Omega 3 is proven to reduce inflammation throughout the body. While there have been no direct studies on how it influences bruising, the stuff is so good you should be eating it anyway.
You can get it from oily fish like salmon or from supplements.
Whole fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants and phytohemicals that reduce inflammation. They also balance out your Ph Levels. Particularly effective types are blueberries, broccoli, pineapple and kale.
Finish off with some of the anti-inflammatory spice turmeric in a curry and you are helping yourself a huge amount.
There is also a place for NSAIDs (over the counter pain killers like ibuprofen) however these are best used as a last minute option if your hands are stinging after warm ups and you are about to go into the field.
They are certainly not a long term strategy like changing your diet.