What are the risks of being an older cricketer?
This is part 3 of the "Cricket Fitness for Older Players" series. To go to part 1 click here.
It's not a nice thing to think about, but as you get older there are increased risked related to both you cricket life and your real life.
As long as you are active you are helping reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis. As a cricketer you need to consider how age affects your game:
1. Strength Drop
Over the years you get a natural loss of strength. This can be anything between 1% and 4% per year. This will reduce the distance you can hit and throw a ball, slow your bowling speed and stop you running as fast.
You can't stop it happening but you can significantly slow the rate of loss by staying active and doing some form of resistance work.
Strength training can come in many forms: You can got to the gym, do bodyweight exercises (like press ups and sit ups) or train at home with some weights or a medicine ball. Anything that overloads your muscles will keep them strong.
2. Weight Gain
Another natural effect of ageing is an increase in weight. As we discussed before this is mainly due to reduced metabolism and lower activity levels. You can keep playing cricket to slow this, but it is also important to make sure you have some weight control built into your training.
Strength training as above is a great tool for weight control, especially when you combine it with regular interval running. Swimming is a good option because it is easy on the joints (but not very cricket specific). If you prefer the competitive element then pick some activities that involve short bursts in a similar ways to cricket: Squash, tennis, indoor football, basketball and the like.
The combination of higher fat levels and weaker muscles increases the risk of getting injured playing cricket. Also, long term damage to your body through modern living can take a heavy toll (sitting down all day, driving instead of walking, using a VDU etc).
As you get older it becomes vital that you train for strength and fitness as well as playing cricket to reduce the chances of getting injured. I know that's not what happens for most of us but it's actually MORE important as you get older.
Within your regular training (2-5 times a week excluding playing cricket) you need to ensure you are working all your muscles with equal balance and developing your core strength, especially your "posterior chain" which is a posh way of saying bum, lower back and hamstrings.
Ultimately, it's impossible to maintain your youthful speed and power on the pitch. What you can do is train and play intelligently to slow this process down as much as possible.
To go to part 4 of the "Cricket fitness for older players" series, click here.
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