What are the physical requirements of a batsman batting through an innings to score a 100 runs?
As a batsman or coach, knowing which energy systems are at work in your body can help you plan your training more specifically for your cricket. This will help you get to that elusive 100 more often.
Before the game
Before we look at what happens out in the middle while you are getting to three figures, we need to know a few basics about how our body stores this energy. Any movement, including playing cricket, requires energy to move our muscles. This energy is fuelled by food. Everything we eat is broken down and stored in our body ready to be used as fuel. When required to generate energy our cells kick off a series of reaction to release the fuel and supply our muscles with energy. The main source of energy for our muscles is called glycogen. Glycogen is easy for our muscles to break down and use quickly as energy. The best way to restore glycogen is from foods with carbohydrates such as vegetables, fruit and quinoa.
Our body can also use fat as an energy source once glycogen has been depleted. This is done by our cells breaking stored fat (triglycerides) into glycerol and free fatty acids (FFA) which can be used to give our muscles energy.
Finally, protein can be used for energy. It is the least used option for the body as it takes a longer chain reaction to convert stored protein (amino acids) to energy. Before play starts you will have plenty of all three sources of energy available to you. You will have eaten right all week and apart from warming up you will have done little to drain your reserves of glycogen, FFA or amino acids.
Heading out into the middle
Now imagine you have strapped on your pads and you are heading out to the middle to start your innings. With your internal fuel tanks primed and ready your body is already working to give you energy. But it can't do much without a way of converting fuel into energy. That essential element is called ATP (adenosine triphosphate). ATP drives the production of energy to move your body. The trouble is that cells contain only enough to provide a second or two before the body needs to start getting it from elsewhere. Here is how you do it:
- Up to 10 seconds: ATP-CP system: The body takes up the waste from the initial use of ATP (this is called ADP), pinches a bit of an enzyme called creatine phosphate (CP) and remakes ATP. This only lasts a few seconds before the CP store is also depleted. In cricketing terms it supplies enough energy for you to play a shot and run a quick single or two if you are quick. The good news is that after a short rest your CP store returns to normal allowing you to use it for your next shot.
- Up to 3 minutes: Glycolytic (or ALA) system: If you are running more than a quick single your cells need to find ATP from somewhere else as all your CP is gone. The fastest way to get this is to take some glycogen (remember that stuff?) and break it down into ATP and Lactic Acid (LA). LA is what makes your muscles feel like they burn. Lucky for batters, this system is not used as often as the ATP-CP system because it really only starts to be used after 5-10 seconds of intense activity. Running a three or four would be a good example of this system in action.
- Beyond 3 minutes: Aerobic system: After a few minutes our body is able to catch up with itself and start using oxygen from plain old breathing to create ATP. This is done by a complex process called oxidative phosphorylation. This can be fuelled by carbohydrate (glycogen which is the bodies preferred source), fat (FFA and triglycerides) or protein (amino acids). Batsmen use this system more than any other in the middle but at a very low level indeed (walking, standing still). This means while important, it does not need to be highly trained in the same way it would be in, say, a long distance runner.
Breaking down your innings
So how much do batsmen use each system during an innings lasting a couple of hours?
There is little research into it, but from experience I would say that the aerobic system has by far the largest use but only at a low level so needs little if any training. The Glycolytic system is the least used with barely any activity in the 10 second to 3 minute range. The most important system is ATP-CP because it is used at the most important times, that is to say when you are running hard and hitting the ball. In an average hundred then, you will need to have an efficient ATP-CP system to both supply you with quick energy and recover your ATP and CP store quickly for the next bout of activity. Modern strength coaches refer to this recovery time as work capacity.
Training to score a hundred
What will your training look like if you are to get the greatest crossover to the pitch? Ideally most of your work will come from activities that train both your ATP-CP system (1-10 seconds of activity) and improve your recovery time. The number one way to do this is to actually play cricket. Examples you can do in training are:
- Strength training in the 3-8 repetition range with 30-120 seconds rest between sets
- Sprint training over 10-30 metres with 1-3 minutes rest between sprints
- Interval training over 15-60 metres with 30-60 seconds rest
- High intensity fielding drills
- Practice matches
Some of these methods may seem odd if you have been taught that cricket as a sport uses aerobic systems so therefore it would seem like jogging or CV machines are best to improve your fitness. I believe that is dogma from a time when we didn't fully understand the requirements of cricket. Analysing the importance of the systems in use and training in the same way is a far superior method in my mind.
What's your view? Leave a comment.
If you want a more comprehensive guide to reducing injury risk and increasing cricket specific fitness, check out county strength coach Rob Ahmun's guide on PitchVision Academy.
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