Exercises for Cricket: A guide to the Achilles
Fast bowlers are often told to work on their achilles if they want to get quicker but what is it, why is it important for cricketers and how do you strengthen it?
Achilles anatomy & function
The Achilles tendon, also known as the calcaneal tendon, is one of the most powerful and vital structures in the human body. We like to refer to it as the spring for the body. It is located at the back of the lower leg, connecting the calf muscles to the heel bone (calcaneus). The tendon is named after the Greek hero Achilles, who according to myth, had a single weak point in his body—his heel, which is where this tendon is situated.
Anatomically, the Achilles tendon is composed of strong, fibrous connective tissue that enables the transmission of forces generated by the calf muscles to the foot during activities such as walking, running, and jumping. It is the largest and thickest tendon in the body, measuring approximately 15 centimetres in length.
The primary function of the Achilles tendon is to facilitate plantarflexion (pointing your toes) of the foot. When the calf muscles contract, they pull on the Achilles tendon, causing the foot to point downward. This action is essential for activities that require propulsion, such as pushing off the ground when walking or running.
Why is the achilles an important area for Cricket players to train?
As we already mentioned, the achilles tendon is the spring in the body so it is vital to be nice and reactive of the floor, minimising our ground contact times. Ground contact times are especially important at back foot contact when bowling as this is the stage of the action where we want to spend the least amount of time to transfer the maximum amount of contact from the run up into front foot contact. If the achilles is well trained, then the heel won’t touch the floor, the knee won’t bend and you will spend very little time at back foot contact. This can also be applied to a batter skipping down the pitch or a keeper moving laterally. The more reactive you are through the achilles you are, the more “springy” and therefore powerful you are going to feel.
3 achilles exercises for Cricketers
With different texture surfaces, alternate between the two with the pogo exercises where you are aiming to spend as little time on the floor and jump as high as possible. Ideally you want one surface to be nice and soft to take the energy out of your legs which will make it even harder to get high on the following jump.
With a band attached to a solid bar above your head, pull it down and hold it with a good amount of tension. Proceed to pogo on the spot, putting as much force as possible through the floor, allowing the band to give you additional height.
Standing on a small box (15-30cm), step of and have both feet hit the ground at the same time. Spend as little time on the floor as possible and jump as high as possible. We like to say we are playing the “floor is lava” as this drives maximal intent from our athletes.