When a coach with the reputation of Ian Pont comes up with a new training product you listen to what he has to say. In this case it's the Dura-band Cricket trainer. So is it any good?
To find out I'm going to review it in two parts. This first part will be based on my opnions on what I think the product is capable of. The second part is to put it to the test with a real cricketer.
But before that, let's look at Dura-band Cricket in more detail.
What do you get?
The product arrived in a mesh bag with an array of implements that look like they might have been used in medieval times to torture prisoners. In fact it's a set of large rubber bands that have a variety of attachments for different ways to train.
Two of those attachments include a familiar looking cricket ball and something that is quite similar to a cricket bat handle that has no bat attached to it: More on those later. You also get a neat instruction book with all the usual warnings about seeing your doctor before starting an exercise program, as well as some suggestions for how to use it.
The whole thing is small and portable enough to be carried around and stored easily. It could easily go into a cricket bag stuffed with kit or be taken to the gym with your towel.
What does it do?
The basic idea works on progressive overload. The bands offer increasing resistance so you can gradually make the exercise harder as your body adapts to it. You can use the bands in two ways:
- General exercises to improve strength and flexibility.
- Copying the movements of bowling and batting but with added resistance to make the exercises specific. So for example you can attach the bat handle
The benefits of increased strength and power (either general or specific) mean that the bands will directly help you to reduce your chance of injury, play at full intensity for longer and produce more power for fast bowling or batting.
Does it work?
I've not used these bands as part of a training plan before. I do have reservations about whether using band can directly improve cricket performance.
Bands have become popular in recent years in gyms but before that they were used as rehabilitation tools by physiotherapists. They work well in this area because people coming back from injury are very weak so the bands have a chance to have a training effect. Now imagine a young bowler who is injury free using the same band. Their muscles are stronger so the training effect is greatly reduced right away. Even the strongest band would become too easy quite quickly when used for general training.
You could say that's not a problem, just use standard resistance training for general work and the bands for 'sport specific' style movements such as the bowling action or batting shots.
However, there is a risk in doing this. Cricket movements are not balanced. We don't bowl or throw with both hands. We bat with one hand dominating the other. Over time this movement imbalance leads to differences in strength and mobility between the left and right hand sides of our body.
For cricket this is no problem. It's just our body adapting, as it always does, to the stress we are putting on it. For injury prevention this is a disaster. Research has shown that as little a 15% difference between left and right sides can dramatically increase your chances of injury.
On top of this, the added resistance to these movements may not be enough to improve strength but might be enough to alter technique. If you have ever thrown a heavy object you know you have to 'heave' it whereas a cricket shot is more of a smooth swing.
The take home point is this: applying resistance to cricket movements is risky.
At least, that's the theory.
Putting Dura-band to the test
The fact is these bands have not been tested in a live cricket environment means that before we can decide either way on the product we need to test it.
The good news is that, with the PitchVision system, we can test a player's performance before and after using Duraband Cricket. If the performance improves we have a winning product.
Stay tuned to miCricketCoach to find out more.