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TitleStrength and conditioning of adolescent male cricket players
AuthorPote, Lee
Format138 leaves
AbstractBackground: Modern day cricketers are faced with longer, more strenuous seasons which are more physically demanding than the traditional forms of the game. Due to these increased physical demands, players are more prone to both overuse injuries, particularly of the lower back (bowlers) and lower limbs (batsmen), as well as acute, impact injuries (fielders/wicket keepers). The increase in injury risk is of particular concern at younger levels as research has shown that adolescents are at a higher risk for injury than their adult counterparts. Therefore, there is a need for strength and conditioning programs that reduce the risk of injury and improve performance at this level. However, of the programs that are available, most are not multi-factorial in nature and are aimed at elite cricketers. This is of concern in low-to-middle income countries such as South Africa, where players often do not have access to facilities or equipment and thus need to be exposed to low-cost, no-cost training programs. Furthermore, most information is anecdotal and there is a distinct lack of injury prevention programs at an adolescent level. Objective: The purpose of this thesis was to investigate the strength and conditioning practices of adolescent cricket players, particularly from a South African context, where there is a distinct lack of resources. This was through the completion of three phases; firstly, a literature review was completed to determine the information currently available on injury prevention strategies in cricket. The review also examined the injury statistics of five major playing cricket nations. Secondly, a survey was conducted to determine the current strength and conditioning practices of schoolboy and university coaches in South Africa. Lastly, a novel intervention program (CricFit) was designed and implemented within an adolescent population. The main purpose of the intervention was to determine whether players’ physical fitness parameters improved over time and whether the risk of injury was reduced. Methods: For phase one of the thesis (review paper), a search of the different scientific databases was undertaken to determine the nature and incidence of injuries in cricket activity as well as well as current strength and conditioning practices in place to reduce these injuries. These injury statistics and prevention programs where then reviewed. For the survey based research, an online questionnaire, adapted from previous strength and conditioning studies, was sent to 38 school boy and 12 university teams that participated in the top competitions in South Africa. In addition to the previous questionnaires, cricket specific practices and injury statistic questions were added to the survey. The survey consisted of three sections: a general, cricket specific and injury and injury prevention section. The survey also allowed coaches at both university and school levels to describe their practices and ideas in order to understand their basic knowledge of scientifically-based principles of strength and conditioning. Thus coaches were encouraged to explain what conditioning practices they implemented through a number of open ended questions which were then analysed for minor and major themes. The focus of the intervention program was to improve general physical fitness for cricket players. The study was a pre- and post-test design where twenty eight schoolboy cricketers (aged 15-19 years) were allocated to a control (n=14) or experimental (n=14) group during the cricket pre-season period. Both groups performed traditional net and field based training over a four week period (one net and one field based session), with the experimental group performing an additional two, 35-45 minute, conditioning sessions per week (“CricFit” intervention program). The intervention consisted of exercises that centred on the movement demands associated with the sport of cricket as well as injury prevention exercises (specifically Nordic lowers and core strength). Prior to and post the four week intervention period, responses were measured using a test battery that was designed to replicate the demands of cricket activity. Results: The results indicate on overall thesis summary. The literature view showed that there is a limited amount of injury prevention programs available for adolescent cricket players. It was also confirmed that for both adolescent and adult players, fast bowlers (lower back), followed by batsmen (lower limbs) and then fielders (impact) are the most prone to injuries. The survey showed that schools and universities in South Africa do conduct some form of conditioning, workload monitoring and injury prevention exercises; however the incorrect practices are being administered when considering the movement demands and most common injuries in cricket. It was also shown that most coaches did not have the adequate qualifications and experience to implement acceptable strength and conditioning programs. For the intervention study, both the control and experimental groups showed significant (p<0.05) improvements in most responses, but the changes for the experimental group were greater than those shown in the control group. Furthermore, significant (p<0.05) changes were shown between the two groups (control vs. experimental) for percentage body fat (12 vs. 11%), sit and reach flexibility (40.79 vs. 80.50mm), plank time (105.36 vs. 185.29s), 20 m sprint time (3.27 vs. 2.84s), push ups (34 vs. 41) and 25 m shuttle distance (699.18 vs. 746.79m). Conclusion: Coaches need to be educated and trained to implement the correct strength and conditioning practices at an adolescent level as well as to better understand the link between the movement demands and principles of testing and training. An improved education process may be needed to improve the quality as well as the qualifications of strength and conditioning coaches. If coaches and trainers are educated properly, then the “CricFit” intervention program may be used to improve cricket specific fitness throughout the pre-season period. The “CricFit” programme is useful in countries such as South Africa, where often players do not have access to coaches and facilities and thus can be implemented easily with minimal cost.
PublisherRhodes University
PublisherFaculty of Science, Human Kinetics and Ergonomics