Cricket and physical fitness
A player should be physically fit to last the
strain of a match of a longer duration. To achieve
this, he will have to do exercises every day for
about 30 minutes viz; running round the cricket
field, skipping, free arm and bending exercises. It
is also advisable to do some exercise before the
start of the game so as to tune up your muscles.
Many players suffer from cramps during a match.
This is mainly due to loss of salt through
perspiration. One should therefore drink water
(avoid ice-cold water) with little salt put in it,
to compensate for the loss. As far as possible,
avoid late nights, drinking and smoking, especially
when you are undergoing training or when a match is
Every sportsman should attempt to achieve a level
of fitness specific to the demands of his sport.
For this, a proper training programme should be
planned. The exercises performed by the player
should be general as well as specific to the sport.
The year can be divided into three periods that are
suitable for training;
A. Preparatory month:
Specific exercises that will enhance a player's
performance should be done during this period.
Training will improve his strength, speed, agility,
mobility, endurance, coordination and balance, his
cardio-vascular and respiratory systems. A training
programme should consist of strengthening
exercises, lifting lightweights, stretching of all
muscles, jogging and long-distance running. This is
the period in which the player, be he a bowler or a
batsman, should develop his technique to help him
achieve the optimum level of performance.
B. Competitive months:
With the training done and techniques developed in
previous months, the player will be ready to put in
his best efforts.
C. Transition months (Off-season):
In this period, the amount of training should be
reduced and over-stress avoided. Other 'relaxation
sports' could be taken up. Injuries of any kind are
best treated during this period with adequate
amounts of rest and light exercises so that
'de-conditioning' does not occur.
Ganguly and Tendulkar warm up
A basic workout consists of warming up, stretching,
strengthening and cooling down.
A warm-up is essential before any match. It helps
the body to gradually adapt to the change in its
physical state i.e. from resting state to
exercising. As a result, the player also gets
mentally geared up for the competition. An adequate
warm-up minimizes the risk of injury to muscles,
tendons, ligaments and other connective tissues. On
match days, the warm-up could be done for 20
minutes and on other days for 45 minutes. It
usually begins 30-40 minutes before a game and is
reduced 10-15 minutes before the match and ends
five minutes before the match. This tapering period
and rest allows recovery from any fatigue without
any loss of the effect of the warm-up. The warm-up
should not be too intense as it can deteriorate a
player's performance due to fatigue and tiredness.
A warm-up includes jogging and stretching -
specific exercises that are necessary for the sport
in question. Warm-up exercises comprise neck,
shoulder and arm exercises, and stretching
exercises for the back and legs. The leg muscles
that should be stretched are the hamstrings,
quadriceps, groin muscles and calf muscles.
Stretching is an integral part of the warm-up
routine but it does not in itself constitute a
complete warm-up. It involves holding oneself
comfortably in a stretched position for various
lengths of time. There should be no bouncing, no
bobbing up or down or other movements. When
stretching correctly, one should try to be as still
as a statue. Only a mild tension should be felt in
the muscle that is being stretched. If there is
pain during stretching, it implies that the muscle
is being overstretched. Overstretching is useless
and will only cause an injury or tear of the
muscle. For an easy stretch, the stretched position
should be held for 10-30 seconds without the player
feeling any discomfort. This is important because
it reduces muscle tension, maintains flexibility
and reduces or prevents soreness and is thus
helpful in preventing muscular injuries such as
pulls and tears.
Ashish Nehra 'stretches' himself with the help of Indian team physio Andrew Leipus
Mobility exercises are also an important part of
the training regime. The individual should develop
the capacity to perform joint actions through a
wide range of motion. Every player must maintain a
general level of mobility in order to avoid
injuries, meet the demands of his technique and
improve his performance e.g. A bowler should have
good shoulder mobility. Mobility exercises should
be done regularly and sets of exercises should
comprise 10-15 repetitions, as only after several
repetitions is there any visible increase in the
range of movement. The end position of the stretch
should be maintained for 6-10 seconds in each
Besides mobility, strengthening of the muscles is
important to ensure that along with the demands of
mobility, the demands of stability are also met.
Strength is a person's ability to do work against a
load or resistance. It is a basic physical
characteristic that determines performance
efficiency in a sport. The player can develop or
acquire strength through working encounters. As the
strength increases, the load should be
progressively increased. Along with general
exercises for body strengthening, specific groups
of muscles should also be strengthened, depending
upon the particular action they perform e.g. A fast
bowler will have to strengthen his legs muscles as
well as shoulder and arm muscles to enable him to
meet the demands of his bowling. Endurance can be
increased by performing 'lower resistance'
exercises, but with a higher number of repetitions.
On-field first-aid - Leipus tends to Nayan Mongia's injured thumb
At the end of the workout or match, cooling down is
important. This reduces muscle soreness, relaxes
the player, breaks down muscle spasm and removes
waste products from the muscle collected during the
exercises. The player relaxes and feels
A proper, balanced diet is essential for any
player. The player should have his meals atleast
two hours before the start of a training schedule
or the match itself. A light meal is preferable as
it is easily digestible. Plenty of fluids should be
consumed to replenish the body fluids lost due to
excessive perspiration. Boiled foods should be
preferred to oily, fried food.
INJURY AND TREATMENT
Injuries are common in each and every sport. The
immediate treatment or First-aid that can be given
when there is pain, swelling and tenderness
together with pain on movement or when load is
applied is as follows:
Rest to the injured part to avoid further damage.
Application of ice will help to reduce the pain and
swelling. Ice-packs, ice-cubes in a plastic bag or
napkin may be applied over the injured area.
Following this, a compression bandage that
comprises an elastic bandage should be tied around
the injured area with some amount of pressure to
check the swelling. Elevation of the injured limb
reduces the swelling.
This treatment can be carried out for a period of
24-48 hours in cases of soft tissue injuries. Any
form of heat treatment should be avoided in the
acute stage as this may result in increased
swelling and pain. Later, a physiotherapist or
sports medicine specialist should be consulted.
For injuries like fractures, dislocations and
severe soft tissue injuries, medical help should be
considered immediately. The injured part should be
well supported to prevent further damage.
Rehabilitation and training after injuries require
special knowledge on the part of the injured player
and the coach. The exercise programme after the
injury should begin carefully with a gradual
increase of load to pain threshold.
A proper warm-up is essential. Initially, isometric
exercises are advised without load. The load may be
increased gradually as healing permits, and dynamic
exercises started. But the pain threshold should
not be exceeded.