Rate of Force Development Explained
Whatever your role in the side, the key physical quality you need to take your performance up a level is power. Power requires you to use your strength & speed qualities together. Despite this, much of your training is probably just focused on strength. It’s time to do something about that and add striking distance or bowling speed.
Rate of force development
The technical term for what we are discussing is the rate of force development or “RFD”. RFD refers to how long it takes you to produce force. More force takes longer to produce and visa versa.
Cricket is a sport that happens very quickly, and you have a small-time window to produce as much force as possible. This explains why the build of the most powerful cricket players is very different to a rugby forward. In a scrum, they have a long time to produce a large amount of force so can concentrate of getting really strong. Cricketers have a fraction of a second to make their force count so we need to train differently.
What increases RFD?
Tendons are the springs in our body and act to absorb & transfer force efficiently. If we don’t train these tendons to be stiff then they will take longer to absorb & transfer force which wastes time & therefore, energy.
Recruiting fast twitch muscle fibres
The split between slow & fast twitch fibres is highly dependent on genetics. However, this doesn’t stop you increasing the recruitment of fast twitch fibres. Slow twitch fibres will always be recruited first, so unless you train above a certain threshold, the fast twitch fibres will not be used. Train above that threshold consistently & they will develop and unlock extra power for you.
Increase in neural drive
Your muscles contract & produce movement in response to a signal being sent from your brain. If you never train with the intent to move explosively, then don’t expect your brain to magically produce power in a game. Intent is the key word.
How to increase RFD
Plyometric training refers too jumping, hopping & skipping. Lower body explosive movements with maximal intent that are demanding tendon stiffness, fast twitch fibres and a high neural drive. Not only will these increase RFD but you should be doing them anyway so that when you have to sprint, jump, land & turn in a game you are ready for it.
Ballistic training refers to moving & throwing things quickly. Medicine balls are best for this and there are dozens of variations that transfer into cricket specific movements. However, it doesn’t have to look like cricket for it to be beneficial. The key, once again, is maximal intent. Make sure you aren’t just using your upper body either. Energy comes from the floor so use medicine ball throws as an opportunity to get your whole kinetic chain firing at speed.
For bodyweight & barbell exercises, adding a band or chain challenges you to accelerate through the whole movement. This encourages you to not take it easy and just lift the weight, but to lift it with speed & maximal intent.