It’s a natural reaction to the unknown and a way of protecting yourself. But as a coach your job isn’t to live in fear of negative results, it’s to get best from your players.
And that means learning how to train your players in more than cricket, even if they are very young.
Fitness training for teenagers or younger though? Surely that doesn’t feel right?
It’s not like the myths anymore. Fitness training isn’t about bodybuilding and inflexible muscle heads (if it ever was). Fitness training is about building a base of all-round athletic performance.
We know fast, mobile, coordinated and athletic kids are usually the best cricketers and these are traits that can be taught just like cricket skills.
If you can get over that fear.
Play to get fit?
A lot of coaches, to keep it simple, say that fitness comes from playing the game. There is no need to do anything else because the more you play the more match fit you get.
Why bother with anything else?
Match fitness is a crucial part of the fitness jigsaw. No amount of strength training is going to teach your body how to bowl 25 overs in a day. But to say you play to get fit has it the wrong way around.
You get fit to play.
Doing it that way around means that players, even from the age of 5 or 6, are learning universal skills.
Good ‘fitness’ training for youngsters teaches running, changing direction, throwing, jumping, catching, and coordination. As players get older it builds up injury-resistant bodies as they get stronger and more mobile.
If it wasn’t for that fear, why wouldn’t you be trying to make players like this?
When you look at fitness as a way of creating athletes and preventing injury then training players becomes a no-brainer. But tradition dictates that cricketers under the age of 18 should stay away from specific fitness training.
This is another myth built on fear. Fear that if you do something wrong one of your players will get hurt and you will be liable.
In reality, it’s perfectly safe to train any age player in fitness, as long as you know your own and your players limits.
That means players as young as 5 can be doing fitness work. It’s just it doesn’t look like the traditional image of players squatting and benching in spit-and-sawdust gyms.
So coming up in the rest of these articles, I’ll give the guidelines to coaches with no formal strength and conditioning training as to what they can do with their players whatever age they are at.
Click the links below to see the other parts of this series: