Spin bowling is a combination of art and science; the degree would vary according to the coaches.
As in the case of wicket-keepers, fitness for spin bowlers has hardly been addressed. It mostly focuses on batsmen and pace bowlers.
Fitness plays an important part in spin bowling. It helps spinners in bowling effectively and preventing injury in specific areas like shoulder compartment, groin, knee etc. The plan has to be put in place according to the skill-set of the spinner — like an off spinner, leg spinner/ wrist spinner or finger spinner. There would be crossover in exercises, and some very specific to the skill.
How being fit is beneficial to the spinners?
In recent studies, it has been established that the spinners have consistent and repeatable actions that enable them to deliver the ball with a release position accurate to a specific angle. The landing position and the delivery position are very demanding physically over a period of time during matches. Besides, there is the variation of a delivery according to the pitch, wherein sometimes an extra effort or an altered hip, shoulder and arm position for deception is modified. To be able to do that, the spinners need to have a very good stability and strength base.
Ground conditioning along with strength work is the key to success. The spinners need not train like fast bowlers on explosive movements; it’s more of a strength endurance work to sustain a spinner for a longer period of time.
Advantages of being a fit spinner
* Fewer injuries
* Recovery from injuries faster
* Longer duration of spell
* More turn with wrist, forearm and fingers
* Increase in speed, agility and quickness for fielding
* Increase in throw power and range
* Lower body fat percentage for efficient movement
* Better power for hitting and running between wickets
* Better breathing patterns and concentration
Fitness requirement for spinners
* Good aerobic base
* Good overall flexibility in the joints
* Muscle endurance
* Core strength and stability
* Glutes strength and stability
Aerobic fitness: Work on interval training or a target oriented training-example-tempo runs/ 5 kms run under 20 mins/ interval training with specific target heart rate.
Flexibility: Overall flexibility to avoid injuries and execute the joints to the full range of motion at any time effectively — example-yoga/ partnered stretches/ PNF stretches for prime movers, stabilisers and neutraliser muscle groups.
Muscle endurance or strength endurance: Choice of exercise is extremely important for the skill set. Loading, reps, sets, range, tempo etc. need to be considered before embarking on the programme. Repetitive strong action over a period of time to be developed through the strength training protocols.
Core strength and stability: Fulcrum for all the muscle groups and the connector between upper and lower body dynamics. Functional, rotational and dynamic core exercise need to be incorporated for efficient movement and stability.
Glutes strength and stability: Posterior muscle chain needs to be addressed in all the sport and skill set. Glutes/ hammis/ lower-back and mid-back muscles need to be strengthened and stabilised in the ratio of the anterior compartment muscle groups. Example given below.
Agility: The most under-rated aspect of cricket training specific to skill. To move from one direction to other at the shortest time, either for the return catch or for fielding. Drills specific to fielding post-delivery action can be added. Ladder drill along with the tennis ball reaction catches immediately after the delivery of the ball/ directional run/ deviational target run and many more can be added according to the coaches’ idea.
Few examples of fitness exercise
- Finger exercise with rubber bands
- Over head lunge
- Side step-ups
- Single leg glute bridge
- Bent-over straight arm cable pull/ bent arm pull-over
- Nose pull
Periodise the fitness schedule according to the season. Never follow someone else’s schedule — it works for them, but it may not work for you at all.