As Australia and England battle for the right to bring home The Ashes during one of Cricket’s most enduring contests, it is incredible to see how the increased focus on players’ physicality is producing the intense, energetic and fast game we enjoy today.
The pace of today’s game has meant that the strength and condition of cricketers is a priority for teams. The athletes endure a lot of stress on their bodies throughout a game so injury prevention is key.
Upper limb injuries are understandably common among cricket players. One study of English players found that 23% of players sustained a shoulder injury during a single season (majority affected in the throwing arm), with 63% of fielders and 35% of bowlers reporting a negative impact on their performance. Another study found that the prevalence of shoulder injury among Australian players was 1 in every 111 players, while the prevalence among English players was between 1 in 59 and 1 in 125 – so depending on which end of the scale it was in a particular season, 59 or 125, it could decide important test series like the Ashes.
Whether you play cricket for fun or aspire to represent your country, there are some great upper body exercises that will build muscle strength in the shoulder, increase stability, prevent injury and ultimately improve performance.
Band pulls (scapular strength and stability)
This exercise is performed with a resistant band.
- Begin with your arms extended in front, holding the band with both hands
- Start the movement with a reverse fly motion, moving the arms out to each side
- Squeeze the shoulder blades together and return to starting position
Wall circles (rotator cuff stability)
This exercise is performed with a small ball (eg. Cricket ball).
- Begin with one arm fully extended, leaning into the ball against the wall
- Make small circles clockwise for a set time, then anticlockwise, gradually increasing the size of the circles
- Change arms
Cuban press (rotator cuff strengthening)
This exercise is performed with dumbbells.
- Take a dumbbell in each hand with overhand grip and raise arms so they are parallel with the floor
- Externally rotate shoulders 180 degrees so that the wrists are directly above the elbows
- Press the dumbbells overhead straightening the arms and return to the starting position
Any cricket player’s training should be specific to what type of player they are (i.e. fast or slow bowler, batsman or outfielder) as each demands different requirements from the body. However, incorporating exercises such as these can greatly decrease your chance of injury and improve your performance on the field.
Always seek an exercise professional to tailor a program that’s suitable to your needs and goals before beginning a new exercise regime.