A guide to the Kinetic Chain for Cricketers
What is the Kinetic Chain
The kinetic chain refers to the “interrelated groups of body segments, connecting joints, and muscles working together to perform movements”. Put simply, it is the way the body works as a whole to achieve a goal. Whatever your role in the cricket team, this goal ends with the ball. This could be hitting the ball, throwing the ball, bowling the ball or catching the ball. You are moving your body to achieve your goal.
Why do we care about the kinetic chain?
If we are to improve our ability to improve said goal, then making the kinetic chain as efficient as possible is going to improve that. It all starts with understanding what the goal is. This could be bowling faster, hitting the ball further or taking more "worldies". Whatever the goal, we, as S&C coaches, work backwards to form a needs analysis and understand the physical requirements of each position to achieve their goals.
Within the kinetic chain, we are interested in the transfer of energy. This isn’t only into the ball but from the floor, through the lower body, into the core, upper body and finally into the bat or ball. Think of this like dropping a stone into a puddle.
The splash happens in the middle and then ripples outwards and dissipates as it gets further away from the centre.
As humans, we get our energy from the floor and this is explained by Newtons third law. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction which means that when we put force into the floor, it pushes back with exactly the same force. This is the centre of the puddle. We then want this force to ripple up the body as efficiently as possible so that when the “ripple” reaches the ball, it is as big as possible e.g. it has a lot of force behind it!
Leaks in the Kinetic Chain
In order for the transfer of energy to be as efficient as possible, we want to avoid “leaks” in our kinetic chain. These are weak spots where energy is lost that could otherwise be saved. In the body, this looks like excess movement. For example, the knee buckling at front foot contact for fast bowlers is a great example of excess movement leaking energy.
Our goal in our physical training is to understand where these leaks occur, why they happen and to plug them as quickly as possible
It would be lovely if it was as simple as a single leak but much like fixing a leak in a house, the actual leak is often the symptom of an issue elsewhere, rather than the issue itself. Let’s take another look at that front knee buckling example. Is it the lack of hamstring strength? The knee stability or even the hip mobility? The answer is probably a combination of all three and more. That is why, when designing our cricket-specific strength and conditioning programmes, we look at improving the whole kinetic chain rather than just isolating areas.