The importance of warming up for cricket
How a cricketer should warm up and stretch before a game
Cricket is game requiring explosive bursts of power followed by periods of relative inactivity, meaning that warming up is an essential part of any cricketer’s preparations. From a pre-match warm up, to keeping warm during the game, and a post-game warm-down, cricketers should not neglect warm-up and stretching if they are going to stay fit and injury free.
To the casual observer, cricket is not a game that requires much effort, but the effort required to deliver a ball at pace (top players can deliver the ball well in excess of 90mph/144kmh) puts enormous strain on the body. And what about fielders who stand in the field for hours on end and are then expected to explode into action to chase the ball or pull off a diving catch? Batsmen too have to be on their toes and ready to deliver some fine stroke play (or take evasive action) and sprint between the wickets.
So, you could say that cricketers need to both warm up and stay warm to avoid injury. The benefits of a warm-up are generally thought to have been lost within 30 minutes of inactivity, so with long hours in the field, it becomes even more important for cricketers to constantly keep their muscles warm.
How should you warm-up for cricket?
Any cricket warm-up should start with around five minutes of gentle activity such as walking or jogging. This will raise the heart rate and get the circulation going as well as raising the body temperature and gradually warming the muscles. You should do this to the point that you start to perspire.
Once the muscles are warmed up you can include some stretching. For cricketers, emphasis should be placed on stretching the lower back, shoulders, hamstrings and calf muscles, this doesn’t mean you should neglect the rest as to consistently do so would lead to an imbalance in the body. You should spend around 10 minutes on this part of the warm-up.
The warm-up could also then involve some cricket specific warm-up drills such as nets, running between the wickets or even catching practice. It’s important not to let your body cool back down again, so make sure you are always on the move, even if it’s just jogging on the spot.
Keeping warm during a game of cricket
Remember, once the game is in play, if you are in the field for long periods of time, it is important to keep the muscles warm and supple. Stay mobile in the field by running on the spot and stretching regularly. This also applies if you are a batsman sitting in the pavilion awaiting your turn to bat. A batsman who has not warmed up will not be ready when they get out to the middle, so it makes sense to warm up regularly, especially when you are the next person in. A batsman could keep warm and ‘get their eye in’ with some practice in the nets.
The cricketer’s warm-down
Just as important as the warm-up is the warm-down or cool-down. This is often a part of the cricketer’s post-match routine that is regularly overlooked in favour of an after-match social drink. The aim of the cool down is to gradually bring down the heart rate and remove and waste products such a lactic acid. Blood and oxygen to the muscles will restore them to the condition they were in before exercise. This will reduced the risk of any muscle soreness some time after play.
The cricketer’s warm-down should consist of easy jogging followed by light stretching, with emphasis on the lower back, shoulders, hamstrings and calf muscles.
By investing some time into a proper warm-up and warm-down routine will be worthwhile to any cricketer, regardless of the level they play at. A proper warm-up and stretching regime will help avoid injuries related to overuse, as well as damage to muscles or tendons caused by lack of flexibility. A warm-up should be as important to your pre-match routine as remembering to wear a protective box!