Boxing vs Cricket
As someone who has been involved in both sports, I cannot help but look at the similarities between the two sports, now ok, I hear you all murmuring to yourselves, what the hell is this guy talking about? Cricketers stand around half of the day in the outfield looking forward to lunchtimes and tea, how can a sport involving such large periods of inactivity be equated to Boxing, arguably the most grueling and challenging sport in the world? But hear me out, the similarity is not between Boxing and all Cricket players, it is between the Boxers and the mad men of Cricket – the fast bowlers….(infact some of those fast bowlers may have made handy Boxers, such was their aggression)
It takes a certain type of madness and attitude to be a Boxer, stepping into the ring with your opponent intent on damaging you and hurting you takes a special kind of warrior and a certain type of mindset, and the same can be said of a fast bowler, who hurtles in, exploding into his delivery stride before throwing down thunderbolts at over 90mph, the name of the game is to take the batsman’s wicket, but often enough, with short pitched deliveries(or fuller pitched inswinging yorkers) the aim is to scare, frighten or even hit the batsman.
But the similarities I want to discuss, are related to the needs and requirements of the muscles used. In Boxing, punching power is derived from the legs and hips, real punching power does not come from the arms – else bigger arms would equate to bigger punches but it comes from the core downwards, the arms and shoulders are simply just the ball at the end of the chain, whipping out the force generated by the lower body.
Fast bowling is the same, a run up is required to build momentum to the crease and gain rhythm,(the man most commonly named as the greatest Boxer in history, Sugar Ray Robinson once famously said “Rhythm is everything in boxing. Every move you make starts with your heart, and that’s in rhythm or you’re in trouble.” and Shoaib Akhtar, the man who currently holds the record of the fastest ball ever bowled in cricket at a touch over 100mph also replied when asked what is the ultimate joy for a fast bowler “With rhythm like a smooth river.”) the delivery stride sets the base turning the body into position, and again the shoulder and wrist finish off the ball and chain movement.
Boxers and Fast bowlers, must train their legs to reach the full potential of their abilities and to further increase these abilities. Both require strength and explosiveness, this should involve short sharp bursts of high intensity exercise when it comes to weight training. The Squat is an ideal exercise for both, often referred to as the King of all exercises and for good reason too. The Squat works the muscles essential to both punching power and fast bowling, a full body exercise that trains primarily the muscles of the thighs, hips and buttocks, quadriceps, hamstrings, as well as strengthening the bones, ligaments and insertion of the tendons throughout the lower body. Explosive hip drive can be gained from performing Squats but players should be careful not to use maximal weights too close to matches to ensure they can recover in time and play at a high level. Drop sets can be added into increase intensity, in this scenario you may complete a set of Squats weighing 50kg, then remove some weight and continue into a set without any rest of 40kg, then repeat and do the same with a weight of 30kg. 2 drops should be enough to reach the desired effect making a total of 3 sets including the top weight(50kg, 40kg and lastly 30kg) so there should not be a need to continue dropping the weight to 20kg and then finally 10kg. Other exercises I recommend using are overhead squats using tempo sets, 3 seconds on the way down, pause for 3 seconds in the bottom position(hips below parallel) and then explosively driving up and also Olympic split style squats are perfect for fast bowlers(and boxers) due to the nature of the sport, boxers in their stance and bowlers in the side on landing position is a very similar position to the split style squat.
Another facet is the duration of performance or time under duress/tension, Boxers are required to fight 3 minute rounds, Bowlers are required to bowl 6 balls to complete a full over(excluding any wides or no-balls) which can take around 3-5mins and often bowl spells of 5+ overs in Test Matches. A boxer will rarely fight at his top rate the whole round, it will not be continuous punching, a bowler will walk back to his mark after each delivery but the work these athletes do are short but high intensity, the sprinting in, delivering of the ball by a fast bowler and throwing punches in bunches/defense work of a Boxer. For this reason, HIIT also known as High Intensity Interval Training should be a common theme for training if you are a Boxer or Fast bowler.
For a Fast bowler, this would involve periods of high intensity followed by periods of low intensity, such as 10 seconds sprinting followed by 50 seconds walking or jogging(the times can be changed as your fitness increases) or sprinting for 50 yards followed by walking or jogging for 100 yards. A boxer can throw fast and hard punches on the punch bag for 10 seconds, followed by 50 seconds of a slower and more moderate speed punching. These 60 second cycles can go on for 10, 15, 20 minutes. To prevent possible burn out these should not be performed for long duration’s of time and neither should they be performed on a daily basis.
So there you have my thoughts on the similarities between Boxers and Fast bowlers, if you play either (or both), give these training methods a try and see how these exercises can help improve your game and never forget, legs maketh the sportsman!