From the impressive girth of Dwayne Leverock to the diminutive skills of Sachin, there are few sports than can incorporate the full range of shapes and sizes that cricket does. Nevertheless, there are certain ideal elements that everyone can aspire to.
What are these elements?
Before we get onto perfection, I want to make something clear: Skill is the most important element in cricket success. While your body weight is an important factor in skill development (more on that later), there is no substitute for cricketing ability.
That said, the attraction of using weight as a measure is strong: You can track it easily and being athletic looking helps you feel good about yourself and your game. We all know how important confidence is on cricket.
Body weight vs. body composition
So, how much should a cricketer weigh?
It depends on a number of factors, and that is where the concept of body composition comes in.
The weight you see on the scales is known as you total body mass: How much you weigh in total made up of fat, muscle, bone and everything else. For health purposes this has traditionally been compared to your height to come up with a figure called BMI.
Although BMI is a solid idea for wide populations, there are limits to this method. Mainly that it makes no distinction between fat (which you want to minimise) and muscle (which you want to have).
Body composition does make this distinction by working out the percentage of your body that is fat. Whatever is left is your lean body mass (LBM).
The first ideal is not best judged by either total mass or BMI, but by body fat percentage and LBM.
As I mentioned before, you can get away with a higher body fat percentage if you have skill. However, it will help you to have a lower body fat for several reasons:
- You carry less dead weight allowing you to run faster
- You have a great range of motion through your shots allowing you to hit harder
What sort of target is the ideal?
It’s hard to put an exact figure on it but I would say a body fat percentage in the range of around 8-15% combined with a healthy (or even slightly overweight) BMI is best to shoot for.
Strength vs. size
Speaking of body composition, it’s also very important to know the difference between strength and size.
Muscular strength is linked to size but you don’t have to be large to be strong. Famed strength coach and powerlifter Eric Cressey weighs around 12 stone (76kg) and can deadlift over 46 stone (292kg).
You can have a lot of power without bodybuilder size muscles. If you train for strength and power rather than size then you will not have much useless muscle. This is what all cricketers should be aiming for in my view.
That means pure body mass is not very important for cricketers. As long as you are strong and have a low body fat your weight will look after itself. If you have a worry about your weight you can fall back to BMI, but if you can get your body fat measured at your local gym then get it done and track it regularly.
Why is all this important?
One of the cries I hear often when talking about weight, fat and LBM for cricketers is this: Why should we care?
The history of cricket is littered with many very fine overweight and underweight players. Skill is the most important factor.
I agree, but I also think that most players can improve their skill by being fitter. The stronger and the less body fat you carry the better. You have access to more power, more speed and less fatigue.
As long as you do it right, and don’t focus on getting lean above learning your cricket skills then all you can do is benefit.
While there is no perfect weight, aiming for the ideal will make you a better player. The best way to do this is to combine regular play with a healthy diet and effective strength training.