How you should warm up for Cricket
Warm-ups are something that 99% of cricketers do before training and a game but how many can honestly say they make the most out of those 5-10 minutes? You likely do a few stretches whilst gossiping with your friends. The key to a good cricket warm-up is understanding what boxes you need to tick to get your body primed and ready to play cricket.
The most commonly used framework for how warm-ups should work is the RAMP protocol, developed by Dr Ian Jeffreys. As we do with all our articles, we are going to take this concept and explain it in relation to cricket, in a way you can easily understand. However, we highly recommend you read further about the subject!
The first part of a warm-up is the bit that everyone understands and completes. Raising your heart rate to get the blood pumping around your body. This usually constitutes a lap around the pitch for most people but we disagree with this.
For us, movement raises your heart rate anyway so why start with a run, having not warmed up?
We always start with a ground-based warm up which we will cover next and then build up to on-foot work. This means by the end of the warm-up, you have ticked the “Raise” box.
Activate relates to activating key muscle groups. This is merged with mobilise, which we will cover next but for now, we will break down the key muscle groups we aim to activate in all of our cricket warm-ups.
Our calf muscles are a very important part of our body to activate in order to protect our ankles, knees and everything else further upstream. In order to activate your calf’s you want to do some form of calf raise, where the ball of your foot will remain planted on the ground and your heel raises up. We love doing eccentric-focused calf raises where you focus on really controlling the downward phase of the movement, where the calf is lengthening.
Quadriceps, hamstrings & glutes
We could split this part up further, but it’s easier to just focus on activating these big muscle groups as a whole. Through a few different movement patterns, you will switch on these key groups. Example movements are your lunges, squat and bridge patterns but we would always start with mobility exercises first before loading these muscles as they are commonly tight!
The core is an area that people often neglect in a warm-up but it is vital to switch it on or at least bring the lower and upper body together in a few exercises. These could be plank, dead bug or bear crawl variations.
The rotator cuff is what gives our shoulder joint stability when throwing & bowling in particular so we want this area to be activated. This is often done with banded rotations and pulls but there are plenty of other options here. Check out this video below entirely focused on the rotator cuff.
Mobilise refers to mobilising key joints and by doing this, you will be raising your heart rate and activating some of the muscle groups above at the same time.
Ankle mobility means that we don’t have to compensate for a lack of movement further upstream, so it is an important area to mobilise. Not needing to compensate means that your kinetic chain has less leaks so you can preserve more energy. The key here is to be comfortable with getting your knee past your toe, whilst keeping your heel firmly planted.
Hips are the number one area we recommend mobilising and we often see cricketers with tight hips. We firstly want to achieve hip extension to loosen off our hip flexors and this will commonly be done from a half kneeling position, thrusting your back hip forward. Secondly, we want to achieve rotation through our hips. Our favourite for this is a 90-90 position as it allows us to have both internal and external rotation. The key with mobilising our hips is that rather than holding prolonged stretches, you keep moving in and out of your desired range of motion. Think of this as prizing open a jam jar lid rather than just yanking the lid of. Little and often mobility is crucial.
We know the thoracic spine is vital for creating speed both when bowling and batting as it allows you to create a larger x-factor angle. We want to be comfortable flexing, extending and rotating through our thoracic spine without our lumbar spine needing to move. For this, we will use movements where our hips are located in position and it is just the upper half of our trunk moving. A mobile thoracic spine is going to result in less back pain when playing cricket.
Cricket players often have cranky shoulders with it being a primarily overhead sport for fielders and bowlers. Adequate shoulder mobility goes a long way to preventing this but with shoulders being one of the last areas in the kinetic chain, we often see them suffer from restrictions further downstream. Our favourite shoulder exercises for cricketers are floor slides and IYTW variations.
The final piece to the puzzle is potentiation which is essentially switching on or firing up the nervous system.
We do commonly leave this until last as it involves explosive movements which we want our key muscles and joints to be ready to handle. The four areas below are something we would try to include but these can be achieved in a variety of ways. For example, this is the part of the warm up that you can gamify with competitions and small sided games.
The goal with jumping is to produce force at speed. However you choose to do this, it really is pretty simple. The goal is simply for you brain to know that you’re trying to produce 100% effort and this switches on your nervous system.
What goes up has to come down right? But to land, you don’t necessarily have to jump first. For example, these could be drops of a small box or snapdown variations. Essentially we want to get comfortable absorbing force.
Sprinting is a common site of injury but would be less common if people built up to being ready to sprint in their warm ups. We like to go through a few 50% and 75% sprints before going flat out. We also want to introduce some declarations and change of direction drills to really be ready to burst out the blocks on the cricket pitch.
Finally, we need something that switches on our “brain”. Technically, we mean our nervous system, but it is easier to understand as having your “brain in the game”, the same as you do before you bat. This can be done in hundreds of ways but to save time, we would build this into one of the three sections above. For example, having to react to a call of left or right when changing direction.
Hopefully that is helpful and you can put a lot of it into action. Check out a few example warm up exercises for cricketers in the videos below!