"Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard."
Sports are an evolving field. In the earlier times, it was all about skill. You just had to put the ball in the net; in cricket, you could be overweight and still come on to the pitch and bat. But now, in the modern era, every sport has changed. Fitness in today’s game is the top priority. It gives you the liberty to perform at the top of your ability, have an injury free career and continue playing the sport that you love at the topmost level for a prolonged duration. Just look at Cristiano Ronaldo and Novak Djokovic, the kind of professionalism and greatness they’ve shown throughout their lives can be credited to their dedication towards fitness.
Credit: JOE.ie, The Mirror, Rediff
Cricket is a sport that needs a combination of talent, skill, agility, endurance and fitness. Amongst all of these, your fitness is the most important. Just look at how Virat Kohli has transformed his career. He had a bad start to the 2010s and lacked quality due to fitness related issues. But with dedication and by moving in the right direction, he has transformed himself and has become not only one of the fittest but also one of the greatest players of all time. There can be test matches where you need to be fielding for days and hundreds of overs under the hot sun and still be on the losing side. Also, you may not be the most technically gifted or talented, but if you’re supremely fit and can give your all to the team, you can be an asset. So, in this chapter, let’s learn with ZAP and look into the various cricket exercises and workouts to improve your fitness.
Cricket Fitness Exercises: The Foundation for Success
To excel at the sport, your workout routine should not only be designed for fitness but also enhance physical attributes like mobility, speed and strength. Like a basketball player won’t have the completely same plan as a swimmer, your split should also not just be a random routine. Engaging in a well-rounded workout routine is essential for any cricketer looking to perform at their best. So, at ZAP, after consultation with multiple world class cricket coaches, trainers and sportspeople and experts in the field, we have developed a plan for you. So, here’s a list of workouts that every cricketer should have in their plan.
Cricket warmup exercises:
- Warming up is the best way to get your body into the zone.
- Start your workout with an energetic running circuit and then get into mobility and dynamic stretching that includes leg swings, arm circles, high knees, and butt kicks.
- Warm ups help you increase blood flow through the body, prepare muscles for the upcoming activity, and reduce the risk of injuries.
Plyometric Drills for Explosiveness:
- Plyometrics in simple terms is the training you do to increase explosiveness on the field.
- Explosiveness helps you to chase a ball at lightning speed, squeeze in those extra singles and doubles, and for bowlers to exert that extra burst of energy into their bowling.
- Exercises that increase explosive power and speed include lateral hops, medicine ball smashes, and box leaps.
Core Strengthening Exercises:
- Your core is the source of all your strength. It is the central part of your body which helps maintain balance and stability.
- The stronger the core, the stronger the batsman’s shots are going to be.
- Include exercises like planks, Russian twists, and leg raises in your workout routine to strengthen your core muscles.
Endurance Training for Stamina
- Cricket is all about going through all physical pains and enduring the skin wrenching length of test matches in the subcontinent, under the super hot sun.
- Endurance is one quality that every sports person needs to work for.
- Incorporate aerobic exercises like jogging, cycling, or swimming into your training to improve endurance and overall fitness.
Agility Drills for Quick Reflexes
- Flying off the ground, to take those unbelievable catches, diving to not get run out, all requires agility and quick reflexes.
- Set up cone drills, ladder drills, and shuttle runs to improve your agility and reflexes.
Strength Training for Power:
- To excel as a T20 player, you must master the art of powerhitting, which obviously requires strength.
- Also, to bowl at an express pace, you need an overall string body.
- By integrating compound workouts like the squats, deadlifts and bench presses into your strength training regimen, you can build up overall strength and power.
Flexibility Exercises for Injury Prevention
- Flexibility is essential to prevent injuries, especially during high-intensity and physically demanding matches.
A proper stretching regimen and incorporating planned yoga sessions can help your body remain flexible and mobile to the highest level.
- In today’s time, where the pressure of expectations exceeds limits, it is equally important to remain mentally fit as physically.
- Engage in meditation and train your mind well to stay focused and composed during high-pressure situations.
Now that you’ve understood what kind of exercises you need to perform to maintain an elite body, you should also know how to plan out a good routine. A well-structured cricket workout routine can significantly enhance a player's performance and help you dominate the game. One way is you can follow one of the sport’s fittest players, Virat Kohli’s daily fitness and workout routine, which would be super difficult for a beginner, so follow ZAP comprehensive workout routine and prepare yourself for a beat performance on the pitch.
Warm-up (20 mins)
- Start with a dynamic warm-up routine to increase your heart rate and body temperature.
- Include leg swings, arm circles, and lunges in your warm-up.
- Follow this with light jogging.
Strength Training (30 mins)
- Focus on compound movements that work multiple muscle groups.
- Examples of compound movements include squats, lunges, bench presses, and shoulder presses.
- Perform three to four sets of 8-10 repetitions with moderate to heavy weights.
Plyometric Drills (20 mins)
- Engage in explosive exercises that build power and speed.
- Examples of plyometric drills include box jumps, medicine ball throws, and lateral jumps.
- Perform three sets of 10-12 repetitions.
Batting or Bowling Drills (20 mins)
- Practice various batting techniques, such as straight drives, cuts, and pull shots.
- For bowlers, focus on developing pace, swing, swing and accuracy.
Fielding Drills (10 mins)
- Work on catching, throwing, and ground fielding techniques.
- Set up challenging drills to improve agility and reflexes on the field.
Interval Training (10 mins)
- Perform high-intensity interval training (HIIT) with sprints and quick changes of direction.
- This simulates the demands of cricket and improves cardiovascular endurance.
Cool Down and Stretching (10 mins)
- End your cricket workout with static stretching exercises to cool down and improve flexibility.
- Focus on major muscle groups, such as hamstrings, quadriceps, and shoulders.
Cricket Batting Exercises: Mastering the Art of Batting
Batting is one of the most critical aspects of cricket, and specialized batting exercises can significantly improve your performance at the crease. Here are some highly effective exercises for a better batting technique:
Shadow Batting (For 15 mins before the nets session)
- Shadow batting is one of the best ways of improving your batting techniques.
- It involves practicing shots without a ball, just imagining a ball in your head and playing shots accordingly.
- Focus on correct footwork, body positioning or stance, and shot selection to refine your batting technique.
Reaction Drills to get yourself in the zone:
- Having a good reaction and being able to judge the line, length and pace of the ball in a split second is a superpower.
- Use a cricket ball and do the drop ball drills to improve reflexes and reaction time.
- Have someone throw the ball from various angles, and practice playing shots instinctively.
- The reaction ball technique is one another way of sharpening your reactions and becoming a better batter.
- Batting is all about playing shots the right direction and scoring runs efficiently. Finding gaps through the fielding position is one skill that every player must have.
- Set up two tee cone targets on the pitch and aim to hit the ball into through them consistently. This will help you enhance precision and shot placement.
Power Hitting with Resistance Bands:
- Attach resistance bands to a stationary object and practice shots with resistance.
- This will enhance your power and strengthen your batting muscles.
Running Between Wickets:
- Running between wickets efficiently is vital for scoring runs.
Practice quick sprints and turning techniques to improve running speed and agility.
Fast Bowling Exercises and Workout:
Bowling is one aspect of the game where fitness and a strong upper and lower body is extremely important. You not only need to have the strength in the upper body to generate that extra pace, but also the speed, strength and flexibility in the lower body for generating power, maintaining stability and impact absorption that keeps them injury free. So, fast bowlers especially have to stick to a very strict routine. Here are some fast bowler’s gym workouts and ground based drills that you can add to your training regime:
Medicine Ball Throws
- Medicine ball exercises, like chest throws and overhead slams, build explosive power in the upper body, which is crucial for fast bowling.
Resistance Band Workouts
- Use resistance bands for shoulder and rotator cuff exercises, improving strength and stability in the bowling arm.
Bowling with Targets
- Accuracy is super important. To improve it, set up a single stump in the net and try to bowl directly at the stump.
- Set up flat cones as targets on the cricket pitch and practice bowling consistently at those areas. This exercise can help you in enhancing accuracy and precision.
- Sprint uphill to develop powerful leg muscles and explosive speed, both essential for generating pace as a fast bowler.
- Swing is necessary for all bowlers, and doing specific drills that can help you master it can take your game with the leather ball to the next level.
- Work on mastering the art of swing by polishing your wrist positions and seam orientations during bowling.
- Increase wrists strength and flexibility to effectively swerve the ball mid air and fear batsmen.
Cricket Fielding, Catching, and Diving Drills:
Being a good fielder for your team is very important. The bowler may not be able to pick up wickets every match and a batsmen may not be able to score good runs in every game, but a good fielder will always save runs and fight for the team.
Thus, you need to train well and improve your fielding techniques to change the game.
Credit: ESPN Cricinfo
- Have a partner or coach to throw balls randomly in different directions.
- You should react quickly and catch the ball with proper technique.
- This drill improves your reflexes and catching under pressure.
- Have a partner or coach hit balls high with a cricket fielding bat for you to catch.
- Focus on maintaining your eye on the ball and position yourself correctly to take high catches.
- This drill helps improve your catching skills for balls that are hit high in the air.
- Stand in the slip position and have a player stand as the batsman.
- Have bowler throw ball at the batsman and let him deflect the ball towards the slip.
- Work on taking catches to your left and right, maintaining a low crouch and being ready to react quickly.
Circle of Catching:
- Form a circle with a group of players. One player stands in the middle while the others spread out around the circle.
- The player in the middle hits balls in different directions, and the players around the circle take turns to catch.
- This drill improves communication and coordination among fielders.
- Set up a relay course with markers at different distances.
- Work on your throwing accuracy by throwing the ball to each marker in the correct sequence.
- This drill helps simulate fielding scenarios where quick and accurate throws are crucial.
- Practice fielding ground balls by having a partner or coach roll balls towards you.
- Work on your technique for getting low, using your body to stop the ball, and collecting it cleanly.
Apart from all the cricket exercises and workouts mentioned above, diet plays a very important role in how you perform. You are what you eat, so take a clean diet, have a balanced diet that includes all the macro and micro nutrients in the right amount and stay consistent with it.
Never forget that you can only achieve greatness by following the three Ds – Dedication, Determination and Discipline. And by practicing the above three D's, you can conquer the 4th and Dominate the Game! So, continue working hard consistently, and reap the fruit of your success sooner than ever!