Like a drummer in an orchestra

A wicketkeeper has many short and sharp multi-directional movements, with lightning reflexes to catch, stump and effect run outs. Once the key movements are identified, one needs to start training with specific functional patterns using the principles of strength and conditioning.

Pylo push ups.   -  S.R. Raghunathan

The ‘fittest’ player in a game of cricket is undoubtedly the wicketkeeper. Chirping, directing and jumping behind the stumps, he has to be on his toes, literally, for all the deliveries. A wicketkeeper displays amazing levels of energy, both physically and mentally, throughout an innings, be it the Test matches, the one-dayers or the T20s. He would be like the drummer in an orchestra.

A wicketkeeper has many short and sharp multi-directional movements, with lightning reflexes to catch, stump and effect run-outs. Once the key movements are identified, one needs to start training with specific functional patterns using the principles of strength and conditioning.

The ’keepers need to train for the movement patterns they use while ’keeping. The movements include squatting with neutral spinal curvature, extending out of the squat using the legs to push into the ground to dive or lunge in multi-directions, with total core control. He generates significant forces through the body — first, as he pushes off from the ground from the squatting position and second, as the body absorbs the shock of impact upon landing in any direction to maximise efficiency and reduce the potential for injury. Will it not be nice to feel fresh and have some reserve energy at the end of a long day in the field under different conditions?

Overhead Lunge.   -  S.R. Raghunathan

 

To do this you need to be conditioning your body to be able to handle the challenges of being a wicketkeeper.

How fitness helps

* Improve mobility to minimise chances of injury

* Improve functional strength and stability

* Increase strength & range in wicketkeeping specific muscles

* Increase hand-eye coordination and peripheral awareness

* Increase power & speed

Being a quality ’keeper is a lot more than simply catching a pitched ball and returning it to the fielder. You must also be strong enough and prepared for the physical demands of the sport. During the course of a game, ’keepers squat and stand over a minimum of 150-plus to 550 times a day, run out batsmen who try to steal a single or two, block or hold on to wide deliveries, catch blinders and collect the ball at varied angles and distances.

Med Ball diagonal throws.   -  S.R. Raghunathan

 

SIMPLE RULES OF FITNESS

Strengthen your legs

Squat is an exercise that builds leg power, which the ’keepers need during a game, and to endure a full season behind the stumps. Focus on glutes/ quads/ hammis and calf musculature in all three planes of movement in both anterior and posterior chain.

For eg: Various types of squats/ lunges can be performed. Perform with body weight first to get the right form, then progress to dumbells and barbells. Do a lower number of repetitions with heavier weight to build power and size, and higher reps with lower weight or your body weight for strength and endurance.

Improve your movement through stability and balance

Stability work on an unstable equilibrium — a wobble board/ airex mat/ bosu ball — would help in proprioception, balance and stability and helps in recruitment of the core musculature to maintain a low centre of gravity. This, in turn, helps in multi-directional propulsion.

S.R. Raghunathan   -  S.R. Raghunathan

 

Improve your footwork and agility

Footwork is an important aspect of being a ’keeper. Blocking, collecting and pivoting to throw the batsman out requires you to be quick on your feet. Incorporating rope jumping/ladder drills and footwork drills into your workout routine will help increase foot speed and coordination.

Lower-body plyometric

Lower-body plyometric refers to jump training and it is an effective way to build explosive leg power. Variety of exercises can be added to the armoury to develop explosive lower body strength like box jumps/ lateral single leg jumps/ depth jumps etc. Choosing the correct size of the box is important for the beginners to advance level players.

Lateral Jumps.   -  S.R. Raghunathan

Upper-body plyometric

Similar to the lower body, the upper-body plyometric strengthens your chest, arms and shoulders, which helps keep your arm strong for all the throwing and catching. A medicine ball can be used or body weight explosive exercises can be performed. Again, a variety of exercise can be added like medicine ball/ body weight exercises/ overhead throws/ lateral throws/ diagonal throws etc.

Flexibility

We all know that flexible joints require less energy to move through a greater range of motion. This decreases your overall risk of injury and increases performance as well. Overall flexibility needs to be worked either through yoga or simple partnered stretches. Specialised stretches for the ’keepers can be drawn up considering the core areas that would get stiff or sore and prone to injury.

Depth jumps.   -  S.R. Raghunathan

 

Base aerobic fitness

The ’keepers require a good base level or aerobic activity to recovery from the sprint bouts during their batting sessions. They may not require like that of a fast bowler or a spinner, but aerobic base is a must. Short interval training with high intensity would be recommended in developing the aerobic capacity.