Strong stable shoulders will not only facilitate more sixes, but help increase you level of control with the bat and ball. Your delt’s (deltoids) are your shoulders for the anatomically challenged, they allow you to lift your arms up to the front, to the side and to the rear amongst other movement patterns. Your delt’s will play a pivotal roll in controlling your shoulder movement through all ranges of shots, throwing the ball, reaction speed when caching and of course your bowling wrist position and arm speed.
Lets look at the shoulder muscles and their importance in cricket:
Made up of 3 heads- Anterior (front) Lateral (side) and Posterior (rear)
Anterior / front delt's uses and examples:
Holding your arms out in front for a catch, keeping the bat strong for a paddle sweep, and keeping your arm high in your bowling action.
Medial / Lateral:
Cocking the arm to throw, cutting the ball, facilitating rotation in the arm for spinners, stopping you from collapsing when landing from a dive.
Posterior/ Rear delt:
Controlling your back lift, keeping the arm secure while bowling, running the bat in during a quick 2.
Of course these uses are intertwined given that the movements described above often use more than one head and there are many other stabilising muscles involved in these shots and movements but for now we are going to focus on the large muscles.
Now we know what the are and why we need them. Let’s look at how we keep them healthy.
Yes I said keeping muscles healthy. Im going to define a healthy muscle in terms of its mobility rather than the actual composition of the muscle fibres otherwise we will be googling terms left right and centre!
When we go through the exercises for the shoulders its important for a sport like cricket that we look for optimal range of movement through out the joint. The shoulder joint is a ball in socket joint like the hip which allows for circumduction meaning it can move in all angles. This is absolutely amazing for the techniques required for cricket however as it allows for so much movement this comes a greater risk of injury. How many guys do you know in your team that ‘used to have a gun arm’ but now take take 5 run up steps and underarm it in? Therefor we need to strengthen all three heads without compromising the mobility.
A great exercise for developing your circumdutionality (made up word!) is the Turkish get up. Holding the weight above your head and manipulating your body around the joint to increase the mobility. You can see the Turkish get up here -