The 3 laws of healthy cricket hamstrings | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

The 3 laws of healthy cricket hamstrings

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Those hamstring muscles in the back of your legs have a hard life. They spend half their time doing virtually nothing, then we make great demands on them as we sprint singles and chase balls in the field.

No wonder they are prone to injury.

Even when they are functioning well they may not be giving you their best because of modern lifestyles. Here are 3 things you can do to minimise the risk of injury and maximise their performance on the pitch.

  1. Train them to extend your hip. Ask most anatomy classes what hamstrings do and they will tell you they flex the knee. While this is true, it's not what they do when you are running or walking. Their job is to work with the glutes (bum) to push your hip back (extend it) and stabilise your knee. Why is this important? It means traditional hamstring exercises like leg curls are, at best, useless to cricketers. Instead of these use exercises like single leg squats and straight leg deadlifts to strengthen your hamstrings and reduce injury risk.
  2. They need activation. Most people spend a lot of their life sitting down. Sitting teaches your hamstrings to relax and the front of your legs (hip flexors) to stay active. As you can imagine, this makes life very difficult for your body to adapt back to using your hamstrings properly while playing cricket. To balance things back out on the pitch you need to remind your central nervous system to use your hamstrings too. Luckily this is as simple as a good warm up with lunges, hip lifts and core work.
  3. They need to be stretched. Most people stretch their hamstrings before play because they feel tight. While stretching is good, it's counter productive before play and may reduce your speed. Save your stretching for the cool down. If things feel tight before play try some foam rolling (or a massage if you are lucky). Once play or practice is over, stretch all the muscles in the hips and legs for around 20-30 seconds.

Better hamstrings means better cricket, so remember those laws as you play this summer.

© Copyright miSport Holdings Ltd 2008

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This is great! Improving hamstring flexibility also reduces stress on the lumbar spine (as does improving thoracic spine extension). I love the two 'functional' exercises you use, though I would be a little concerned if any of my athletes used either technique.

With the single leg squat, the knee should not move forward of the toes and I am a little concerned about that cervical spine hyperextension with rotation. There is also no need to introduce the obliques, traps, lats and rhombus here. I would prefer my guys to concentrate on more quality by reducing the number of muscles worked and giving those targeted more attention. If there is a need to touch the ground, I would include alternate lunges; functionally training their CNS to fire the correct sequence of motor units for the long barrier etc. [so many young cricketers still preferring to use their feet to stop a ball!]. I would switch the inhalation/exhalation too.

Please don't think this is a complaint, far from it. I am about maximising what we have but as long as an exercise is carried out safely, it is better than not doing it at all.


Great points. A single leg squat is excellent, as are the hip lift variations - cook hip lift, stability ball leg curl etc. My main point was the hamstrings should be trained for hip extension not flex the knee.

For most cricketers the issue is not what exercises to use to strength train, its doing any training whatsoever!

a couple 'devils advocate' questions for you though:

Why should the knee not move beyond the toes?
Why should the spine not hyperextend?
Why reduce the number of muscles worked?