You might think that cricket is a relaxed game – one where you stand around in a field, sometimes not even participating in the action for hours on end. But, playing in a sport like cricket actually requires you to be really active and agile! This means you need to train a lot! But, how much do you need to train as a cricketer?
Professional Cricketers, on average, train about 4-6 hours every day for at least 5 days a week. This includes net sessions and other different forms of training such as flexibility, strength & conditioning, stamina building, gym sessions, and drills for reflex actions, batting, bowling, and fielding.
Training during the match days is usually limited to warm-ups, stretching, and basic drills.
While professional cricketers might have more time to devote to their training, there are plenty of ways you can transfer aspects of their training regime into your game as well.
How Much do Professional Cricketers Train?
Professional cricketers train throughout the year. The training is divided based on several parameters (which we shall look into detail later in the article). In other words, the training schedule of a professional cricketer may not look the same for each day of the year.
Cricketers spend about 4 to 6 hours on training every day. However, the time spent on the type of training varies based on age. Younger players spend the most time on honing their skills. As players age, equal focus is given to both skill and physical fitness
That said, professional players train, in some form, most days that they are not playing. Even on days when they are playing, they will do drills and even sometimes net sessions so as to be warmed up and ready for the action as soon as they walk out on the field.
On any given day that is part of the preparatory phase of the season or the competitive part of the season, cricketers train about 4 to 6 hours each day!
It is also to be noted that the amount of time spent on the different aspects of training varies based on age. Young players, who are in their teens, spend the most time developing the skill sets to succeed as they are usually fit. As players grow older, focus on physical fitness increases.
Obviously, depending on whether they are batsmen, bowlers, or wicketkeepers, they will train to different extents on different skillsets.
However, unlike other sports such as football, which are much more prescriptive about their training regimes, cricket players often train much more in relation to their own personal preference – particularly when it comes to practicing game-specific skills such as batting and bowling.
At international levels, teams increasingly manage and analyse training performance with regards to the more physical aspects of a training regime. For example, before preparing for tours of the sub-continent, the England cricket team will train in humid heat chambers in order to be ready for the hot and sticky conditions they will face abroad.
What are the Types of Training that Cricketers Undertake?
It is natural for any player to spend a lot of time on training. Some players take up the game naturally, while others have to spend more time honing their skills. But developing the skills is only one aspect of the training that a cricketer undergoes.
A good cricket training encompasses a combination of three essential qualities – Skill, Fitness, and Mental Strength. While a single article about these topics is certainly not enough to cover the nuances of such qualities, let’s understand the type of training that is involved in each of the three categories at a high level –
1. Skill Training
Having adequate skills is the most quintessential to being a Cricketer. If a player doesn’t have the right skills, perhaps he or she may not even have a career as a cricketer.
Thus, cricketers start honing their skills through skills training often very early – often as early as 5 or 7 years of age! It doesn’t mean that you can not have a career if you are starting at a later age, but starting early allows you more time to master the skills required as a cricket player!
We wrote a detailed post on what is the correct age to start playing cricket in which we highlight the tell-tale signs of identifying a person with natural ability to become a cricketer. Do give it a read –
Skills training involves developing different skills as a cricketer. The skill training is focused mainly on – batting, bowling, and fielding. There are several specific types of training drills that help the players hone each of the three skills. Cricketers often spend more time doing the following during a training session –
1.1 Net Practise Sessions
Cricketers love spending time at the nets, either as a batsman or as a bowler. Some players like to spend hours upon end imagining they’re spanking shot after shot through the covers and over the boundary, while others prefer to take their guard, play a couple of defensive shots, find the middle once or twice, and then finish the session.
For bowlers, bowling into an empty net can be a very productive way to hone your skills – without having to worry about beating the batsman. You can even place a mat on the spot which you are aiming for, as it is not always just about directly hitting the stumps.
Professional players need to have control over the type of delivery to be bowled or the type of shot to be played. The net sessions are a great way to allow the players to hone their batting or bowling skills and attain mastery!
Professional players need to have control over the type of delivery to be bowled. They need to be ready to bowl a precise delivery on-demand. With the good amount of net sessions, practice at hitting a certain spot on the wicket or general control of the ball becomes a lot easier. The same is the case with the batsmen too!
However, even some professionals hate the nets. Phil Tufnell the former England player suggested that he would ‘save himself’ for the match and implored others to only net ‘twice a decade’ as it only ‘highlights your weaknesses’.
While this is a slight exaggeration, it demonstrates how there is a varying personal difference among players between those who find a lot of value in certain forms of training, and others who don’t!
1.2 Fielding Drills
While the net sessions allow a cricket player to attain perfection at batting or bowling, the fielding drills help hone the fielding skills of a cricket player.
To field well, a player must be quick, have good hand-eye coordination, and the ability to throw accurately and quickly to the wicket-keeper or at the stumps. And while many of these things may not come naturally to a player, they are all skills that can be honed through good practice and coaching.
All that is needed is a ball and something to throw it at or against (such as a ‘rebound net’) and almost every aspect of fielding can be practiced.
Professional players generally do a small amount of fielding practice in every session they do, whether outdoors before or after a net, or indoors as part of a gym session. After all, unlike many other aspects of cricket training, you can practice your fielding skills alone.
Through skills training, the aim of the players is to build “Muscle Memory“, which refers to the ability of a player to reproduce a particular movement without any conscious thought. Muscle memory is built as a result of frequent repetition of a certain action.
Cricketers go through varies types of fielding practice sessions. These include –
- Slips Catching Practice –
Catching the ball is perhaps one of the most important aspects of fielding. Without a fielder able to catch the ball, the possibility of a batsman getting out is significantly reduced. Slips catching practice is one of the key aspects of catching ball drills.
- High Ball Catching Practice –
Catching a high ball is another important part of the training of a cricket player. Often players of the opposition team end up hitting the ball in the sky in order to score 6 runs. Thus, having the skills to catching a high ball is quite important too.
- Pick and Throw –
One of the best ways to avoid leaking runs in the field is to be able to pick up and throw the ball as quickly as possible. That’s exactly what the pick and throw drill aims to address for a cricketer.
- Hitting the Stumps –
The ability of a fielder to hit the stumps directly greatly increases the possibility of getting a batsman out Run Out. Thus, cricket players are encouraged to quickly pick up the ball and throw it, often one-handedly, towards a single stump. This allows the fielders to improve skills to throw the ball and hitting the stumps.
The aforementioned training drills are just the basic ones. There are several other drills that are involved based on the specific aspects of fielding that needs to be focused on.
While skills are absolutely crucial to have, on the other hand it is important to maintain high fitness levels to be a good cricketer.
When it comes to fitness, most players divide their training into physical strength, agility, and stamina.
2.1 Physical Strength
Physical strength is one of the most important factors for a cricketer. It is the strength of the batsman that allows him to hit the ball high and hard for boundaries. It is the strength of the bowler that allows them to bowl at high speeds!
Players often participate in gym sessions to maintain and build their physical strength as a cricketer. Needless to say, boosting physical capabilities allow a cricket player to perhaps perform better and therefore derive even greater enjoyment from the game.
That said, it is always advisable to seek the guidance of professionals, particularly when it comes to intensive weightlifting, as although beneficial in some cases if done correctly; you can seriously damage your body if you don’t do it right.
Agility is important in the game of cricket must as the other skills. Certain type of players require to have more agility and short response reaction times to be successful. For instance, a wicket-keeper needs to have great agility. Likewise, a fielder in the slips or in the infield, needs to be more agile.
There are several training drills that cricket players go through in order to build their agility. Slips catching practice is one such example of building agility.
Another focus area in the training of a cricket player is Stamina.
Having a good stamina allows a cricketer to be able to bat longer. A batsman with good stamina will still be able to run hard even in the 50th over of a One Day International match. Likewise, a bowler with a good stamina will be able to bowl with the same strength even in the 10th over in an ODI match!
Players often go for jogging or running about 5-7 kms or more every other day to build stamina. Running is a great way to build stamina.
There are other forms of advanced training that are also available to cricketers representing their countries. Cardio training is very important for cricketers who want to perform at the highest level. You can train specifically for the high-intensity sprints that are involved in cricket (either as a batsman or a bowler) with High Intensity Intermittent Training (HIIT) or by doing short sprints of around 20m in length.
One of the best ways to measure your stamina is by undergoing the Yo-Yo test in Cricket. We wrote a detailed post on the Yo-Yo test in Cricket in which we mentioned great tips on how you can ace the test! Do check it out!
3. Mental Strength
The mental aspect of the game is often overlooked, particularly when it comes to training. Cricket can be a very mentally taxing game – especially in the longer formats where you might be out in the middle batting for several hours at a time.
Similarly, despite being a team game, there is a huge amount of onus placed on individuals. Whether you are batting, bowling or fielding, in any given moment your individual error could serious damage your team’s chance of winning. As a result, mistakes (or the fear of making them) can lead to serious bouts of anxiety and stress.
Some professional teams and players work with sports psychologists to over-come these fears and anxieties. While another way to deal with this, and something which can be deployed whether you are a professional or not, is to visualize game scenarios in your head when you aren’t playing.
This is something that Steve Smith, for example, does all the time. He’s known to shadow bat in the shower, on the bus to the game, in team meetings, in the field… any chance he gets he spends his time imagining in his head how he will react when an event happens in reality. This may be one of the secrets to his success and explain why he appears so unflappable at the crease.
Importance on Warm-up and Cool-down Routines
An important aspect of maintaining your body is warming up and cooling down, before and after each session. Thus, a good training routine also needs to give attention to relaxation techniques.
No matter what exercise you are doing, this is essential if you want to prevent serious muscle injuries such as strains and tears which can keep amateur and professional players alike, out for months on ends.
The body works in stages as it gets ready to perform to the peak of its ability. The first stage is known as the ‘Alarm Stage’ and this is what gets the blood and hormones pumping through your body. If you try and jump immediately to a higher intensity, such as would be required by the second stage of your body’s energy release, the ‘Resistance Stage’, then it will not be able to cope.
Many professional teams warm up by playing games like catch (using aero howlers) or football. However, there many critics of this as it is deemed too unsafe and inconducive to actually developing skills or preparing players for cricket.
Warming up and cooling down, by its nature, does not require a huge amount of time or even energy. You can do some simply stretches, a small jog and possibly build up to a few short sprints, in order to get your blood flowing and muscles relaxed. Likewise, for a cool down you can do the same process in reverse.
You should consider taking elements of cooling down and warming up routines into the different aspects of the game and relate them to each activity. If you are a middle-order batsman, it is no use warming up with the openers and then sitting still for an hour before you head to the crease. You should stay loose and ready to go at the correct time.
Similarly, if you are a bowler who typically comes on in the second spell of an innings, you ought to gradually increase your heart rate and flexibility in the few overs before you come on. This will prepare you to hit the ground running when you are called upon to make an impact on the game.
How Does Training Differ during On & Off Season?
Although training is definitely part of the most seasonal campaigns of the year for a cricketer, training during an off-season period perhaps plays an equally important role to maintain the fitness levels.
While many clubs offer off-season indoor netting practice, it is important to take responsibility for your own fitness and health as netting sessions often are not as strenuous as match-play or outdoor training.
It is particularly important for players to maintain a certain level of fitness during the off-season. Many professional sides have a two-week on, one week off policy during the winter so that they are able to maintain and even improve both their strength and cardio, but so that they don’t get bored of the repetitiveness of indoor gym work.
In the off season, you can maintain your fitness not only by going to the gym (to build muscle strength) but also by doing cardio-vascular exercises like swimming and running.
The Australian professional men’s cricket team has recently worked with Olympic gold-medal winning swimmers during their off-season training programs specifically for this reason. It’s also great during the season as a way to recover and maintain physical strength as it has a much lower impact on your joints than regular cricket practice.
Role of Recovery in Cricket Training
While training is clearly important for both amateurs and professionals, it is also important not to over-train. You must take time to allow your body to recover – particularly after sessions in the gym and lengthy bowling spells or stints at the crease.
When your body is sore, that is often a sign that it is rebuilding the tissues that were used most strenuously during that exercise. In which case, it is important that you give your body time to repair itself.
Otherwise, you will be likely to do long-term damage to your muscles, bones and joints. Which will mean you may have to give up your playing career earlier than you might if you look after it more carefully. So, if you want a lasting cricketing career make sure that you take time to rest and recover between matches and training sessions.
You can also relax your body simply by using straight-forward breathing techniques. Deep, diagrammatic breathing can reduce your heart rate, boost your oxygen levels, and, in doing so, increase the rate of recovery for your body and its cells.
Importance of Diet in Cricket Training
It is worth mentioning the importance of a good diet if you want your body to perform to its maximum capacity on match day. If you regularly consume all the right nutrients, then your body will no doubt be much healthier.
This will mean you’ll be less prone to injury; you will feel more confident, and you will be able to perform to a higher level. So, particularly when it comes to the tea-break think hard about whether that second slice of cake will make you a little lethargic in the field during the following innings.
And don’t forget to drink plenty of water. If you’re out in the field, whether training or in a match, being properly hydrated is a sure-fire way to boost your maximum performance level – both physically and mentally.
Importance of Sleep for Professional Cricketers
There is nothing worse than taking to the cricket field when you are already tired from a sleepless night before the match. You need to be alert, both physically and mentally, in order to perform to your maximum potential.
“Sleep is the single greatest legal performance-enhancing drug that most players are often neglecting!“Dr. Matthew Walker, a sleep expert
It has been proven that in any sport, performance is significantly impacted by the amount of sleep a player has had in the build-up to an event. Dr Matthew Walker, a sleep expert, has said that sleep is the single greatest ‘legal performance-enhancing drug that most people are probably neglecting’.
Research shows that the time it takes to reach your exhaustion point can be reduced by as much as 30% simply by getting just 6 hours of sleep the night before a sporting endeavor. Furthermore, research also suggest that there are certain positive changes that occur in our body during the sleep cycle after training.
So, no matter what level you are playing, the data shows you will be able to perform to a higher standard without any extra training and simply by sleeping a little longer!
So, How Much Should You Train as a Cricketer?
Amateur level players will train probably once a week and play maybe once or twice as well. For many, this is enough training and playing to maintain a good level of both technical ability and fitness.
However, if you want to improve your game there is no harm in taking up a more serious regimen as you will find on the professional circuit.
During the season, amateur players should expect to train for batting, bowling or fielding at least once a week in specific training sessions. While they should also use game days as a chance to practice skills as part of their warm-up routine.
While it isn’t the time to be making major technical changes to your game, taking throwdowns before you bat or practicing catches before you go out to field are great ways to build your confidence and improve your basic skills.
In order to have a fulfilling and long-lasting cricket career – no matter what level you play or what time of year it is – you must look after your body and constantly look to build upon your current level of skill.
With so many different aspects of the game to train for; from the cardiovascular exertion of running between the wickets to the mental exertion of concentrating on each and every bowl as a fielder – the more prepared your body and mind is, the easier the will feel and the more enjoyable it will be to play.