photo credit: one-11
As the Australian and South African teams have proven in recent years, strength and conditioning has become a critical element in cricket success.
It's no longer enough to be a talented bowler or batsman to make enough of an impact to break into top level cricket.
You also need to be fast, powerful, and agile even after a long day in the sunshine.
But it's tough to know how to do this if you are under 18. There is so much conflicting information for colts to take in.
You want to be as fit as you can be but you don't want to do yourself an injury in the process. How do you find the right way?
Kieron Vorster, Strength and Conditioning Coach for In-Touch Cricket Academy, works with young cricketers from ages 8-18 and knows the good from the bad when it comes to cricket fitness.
I spoke to him and he came up with these tips for using fitness to make it to the top of your cricket game:
1. Understand the benefits.
Top players like Andrew Symonds Paul Collingwood, Michael Hussey and Kevin Pietersen are better athletes. They are stronger and faster compared to years ago. There is enough evidence to prove the fitter you are the quicker you will recover in order to play at the high standards required all year around.
If you are fit in body, you will be fit in mind and will have stronger powers of concentration when out in the middle batting as well as having less chance of your body breaking down with injuries.
2. The earlier you start the better
Good habits can be built from a very young age. The main focus is on the key LTAD stages from ages 10-18. That said, you can start teaching movement skills to the under 8's. At that age it is all about having fun but you can still teach fundamental skills like agility, balance and coordination that will have a positive effect in later years.
As kids progress you can work on relative strength with bodyweight exercises like press ups, dips, lunges, squats and pull ups.
3. The more you do the quicker the results
All elements of fitness take time to develop. However, it's like anything: The more you do the quicker you will improve and see the results. In an ideal world training will be a four times per week but it depends on the commitment of the individual to get the best from themselves.
4. Master technique then progress
With young players it's important to work on the technical aspects of fitness before progressing. Adding load before a young player is ready can cause injury. Learning how to run fast, change direction quickly, control the core at speed and do movements like squatting, lunging or Olympic lifting with a broom handle can be taught to any age safely.
Once young players have mastered these techniques you can start doing some progressive work so each individual can see improvements.
5. You can do a lot with a little
If you have got a field and cones you can get a lot done. You don't need expensive equipment. Vern Gambetta uses the phrase 'weight room without walls'.
If you have funds available, the benefits of Olympic lifts are well documented. Find a gym with Olympic bars or Training bars with coaches that specialise in training young people like Keiron does at In-Touch Cricket Academy. Remember to learn the lifts well before adding weight.
6. Quantity in the winter, quality in the summer
Training has a different focus at different times of the year.
The bulk of training is done in the off season which means intense loads and quantity. This is where most progress is done.
During the season, quality work should be done at high intensity. More maintenance work will be prescribed in the season so young players maintain the high levels of fitness gained in the off season. This is because players need recovery time between matches so find it harder to make physical improvements.
You can get more information from Kieron Vorster via In-Touch Cricket Academy, based in Surrey.
© Copyright miSport Holdings Ltd 2008