Wouldn't you like to know a way to get miles in your legs without 10 rounds of the ground?
While, most ex-cricketers and coaches will tell you that stamina is good for bowlers, a long jog just isn’t the way to do it. Long jogs are sure recipes for disaster.
Still sceptical? Have a look at the stats.
A study of lower limb injuries in long distance runners, reported that those who ran more than or equal to 5 Km per training session, up to 92.4% had injuries. Knee was involved most frequently; injuries to the shin, Achilles tendon, heel, calf and the foot were also common.
Sound painful? That's not all. Another study said, "middle and long-distance running were associated with a greater number of long bone and pelvic stress fractures".
But we are talking of long-distance running; how does it translate to cricketers?
Well, let us consider a cricket ground where the boundary is 80 metres from the centre of the pitch (or a batting end). That means one round of the ground should be around 500 metres. So, 10 rounds makes 5K, doesn’t it?
Now, do you recognize the connection?
In a nutshell, your coach wants you to double up as a cricketer and a long distance runner!
Given, that all that running will put extra stress on your joints – without adding much to your sports specific movement patterns – it doesn’t make sense to prescribe "10 rounds of the ground" on top of the all the ground fielding drills and the nets.
So, what other ways can you safely improve your cardiovascular fitness while protecting your bones and joint structures?
Cricket alternative to jogging
Researchers investigating injuries during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, reported that injuries of the lower body during bowling had the greatest loss of playing time. So it can still be argued that lower limbs need to be preserved for bowling. Taxing them during cardiovascular training will only increase injury risk!
An alternative is sprint interval training (SIT) rather than jogs or long-distance running.
One of the main differences that set sprinting apart from long-distance running is the little amount of time that each foot is in contact with the ground. This means, the forces working on each leg (and, the back), should be a lot lesser than in long-distance running.
Plus, bad biomechanics has been suggested to play a role in stress fractures. Improvement of movement patterns while sprinting can further reduce injury potential.
Here’s what your sprint interval routine should look like:
- Dedicate 2 days of sprint interval training in a week.
- Spend the initial few weeks learning the techniques and the drills for sprinting or pose running
- Build up speed over a few weeks. Never start at 100%, but once you feel confident look to give it your all.
- Warm up well.
- Mark out a distance: 35 to 60 metres for speed and 400-800m for endurance. Sprint the distance then rest.
- Rest period between sprints should be more than 5-10 minutes – allowing for regeneration of phosphocreatine (anaerobic energy system). Use this time for putting in some stretching.
- Do 5-10 intervals; build up over weeks
- Reduce the rest intervals to 4-8 minutes
Take home message
Cricket isn’t strictly an endurance sport. It typically warrants short bursts of energy followed by a few seconds to a more than a few minutes of rest (more so if you are fielding in the deep or at the non-striker’s end in a test match). It makes sense to ditch the ‘long-distance running methodology’ in favour or more short-burst, intense anaerobic activities.
Sprint interval training is likely to be most effective in improving fitness without undue risk of injuries.
What’s more – as opposed to long-distance jogs – sprints will improve your body composition as well. That is, it will reduce body fat while packing on lean muscle mass.
All in all, everything is stacked in favour of sprint compared to long jogs.
So, isn’t it time you considered switching over to SIT?
- Bennell, K., Matheson, G., Meeuwisse, W., & Brukner, P. (1999). Risk factors for stress fractures. Sports Med, 28, 91-122.
- Bennell, K. L., Malcolm, S. A., Thomas, S. A., Wark, J. D., & Brukner, P. D. (1996). The incidence and distribution of stress fractures in competitive track and field athletes. A twelve-month prospective study. Am J Sports Med, 24, 211-217.
- Ranson, C., Hurley, R., Rugless, L., Mansingh, A., & Cole, J. (2013). International cricket injury surveillance: a report of five teams competing in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011. Br.J Sports Med, 47, 637-643.
- van Gent, R. N., Siem, D., van, M. M., van Os, A. G., Bierma-Zeinstra, S. M., & Koes, B. W. (2007). Incidence and determinants of lower extremity running injuries in long distance runners: a systematic review. Br.J Sports Med, 41, 469-480.
Dr. Deepak Hiwale is "The Fitness Doc",a medical doctor, specializing in sports medicine and a cricket lover with a special interest in helping fast bowlers bowl quicker and in preventing fast bowling injuries.