Strength & Conditioning in the IPL

(Adrian Le Roux)

Each year over an eight-week period some of the worlds best cricketers take each other on in The Indian Premier League (IPL), a thrilling, high intensity non-stop action tournament in front of a world audience. In 2008 I joined the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) as strength & conditioning coach. A tremendous privilege and opportunity to work with some of the worlds best players. In the fitness industry you learn something new every day and the IPL taught me a lot of things. In this post I will share some of my experiences behind the scenes, information and some insight on the strength and conditioning programs we implement.

As with any athlete when it comes to the strength and conditioning of these cricketers we start with basics principles. Wise words that I live by ¦

Methods there are many, principles but few, methods often change but principles never do

Specificity

Specificity

Design a program specific to the sport and the individual. Ask the right questions to each individual. Once you have the answers to all the questions look at the specific mobility requirements in the game of cricket, which joint and muscle actions are involved?

Overload

By overload the muscle will strengthen to operate beyond its normal intensity. Load must be progressively increased either by an increase in resistance, repetitions, sets or intensity.

Recovery

Rest is required in order for the body to recover from the training or competition and to allow adaptation to take place.

Adaptation

The body will react to training loads imposed by increasing its ability to cope with these loads. This will occur after sufficient recovery.

Minimizing Risk for Injury

In my opinion there is no such thing as injury prevention. Injuries can never be completely prevented but you can minimize the risk.  Identify possible factors that can lead to injury on the field of play, during practice or in the gym and avoid them at all cost.

Reversibility

When training ceases the training effect will also stop. Cricketers must ensure that they continue strength training throughout the competitive period, although at a much reduced volume, or newly acquired strength will be lost

Tedium

Keep it interesting. There must be an enjoyment factor. Keep sessions fun and keep your athletes committed.

With the principles firmly set we then implement methods that will get us there. These methods might be different from team to team as some of the S&Cs might have a different approach.

For me there are a few important considerations

Firstly the program must have something that the player can take home with him. Once the tournament is over the player must have learned something and be able to continue on his own. Continued education.

We stay away from heavy weights. The IPL is a 6-8 week high intensity, high volume tournament. There is a time where you can go heavy but during the IPL is not the time. Simply not worth the risk. My programs focus on functional movement, good clean technique, steady progression and education. Non playing players might do 3 – 5 sessions per week in the gym, the guys that plays regularly will do 1 – 2 maintenance sessions per week

Importantly cricket conditioning cannot be done in the gym alone. In fact during a tournament such as the IPL we do 70% of our training on the field in an interval, fielding fitness and cricket specific format.

Then we look at athlete monitoring and management. From day one of the tournament, normally 10-14 days prior to the first match and for the rest of the tournament we monitor the workload of each individual player on a day-to-day basis. This includes training, cricket practice, matches, travelling & recovery. You can only manage your players if you have accurate data on their workload. Together with the coaching staff we will make decisions if we need to do more work or if we need to do less with recovery our primary focus.

Lastly and importantly understand and relate to your players. It is their game not ours. Dont compare players and dont judge them. As S&C staff we are there to support and create an environment for them to perform. Each player will have different training needs. Respect the need, respect the player and respect the game.