photo credit: Scott (SA-Photo)
There is a popular toy that has been doing the rounds with club cricketers called Powerball. It claims to:
"dramatically increase the players ability to hit a ball further, straighter and with more authority as a direct result of this additional power in the upper body."
This is done by training your forearm and grip strength. While I have never used the toy myself, I imagine it does a good job of this.
I'm not sure how seriously we can take the Powerball maker's claims though. Or, in fact, the requirement of any kind of grip training in a cricketers plan.
Movements not muscles
Researchers have proven long ago that there is a direct relationship between how strong your grip is and how strong the rest of your upper body is. The trouble is that training your grip in isolation is not going to increase the strength of other muscles in the way that you need it for cricket.
The power and speed generated in a shot or bowling action doesn't come from individual muscles, but from a precisely time combination of muscular stretches, contractions and stabilisations: Alternatively known as movement.
Your forearm's role in cricket movements is to transfer energy from your upper arm through your hand and into the bat or ball.
That means unless you are particularly weak or recovering from injury and unable to hold a bat for extended periods there is no need to isolate your forearm in training.
If you are training your body's basic movements then your grip gets plenty of training anyway: Pushing and pulling stuff in a range of ways is the fastest method to get stronger for cricket and get a better grip if you feel you need it.
Bodyweight exercises are free (chin ups and press ups for example) and I suspect have a better effect on your performance than the Powerball or any grip isolation training can.
I don't want to just single out the Powerball though. Any isolation exercise needs some serious consideration before being added to a cricketers plan. Try these alternatives:
- For bicep curls do chin ups
- For tricep kickbacks do overhead presses or handstand press ups
- For calf raises do jump squats
- For sit ups take up a martial art or deadlifting
You get the idea.
As a final note there is an exception to the isolation myth. That's core stability and you can read more about this complex area here and here.
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