Cricket Sport Specific Training

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Training professional Sportsmen/women can be daunting as well as extremely exciting and rewarding. 

This is one of our longer blog posts but a sport progress report cannot be short 😉

We want to create the best programs for these professionals. As Movement Professionals, we are required to have certain skills and information at our fingertips.  It goes above and beyond choosing exercises and repertoire that the books says will be ideal for specific imbalances. It has to be CLIENT SPECIFIC or SPORT SPECIFIC. 

That might mean that you need to be a DESIGNER of amazing exercises. This is the approach that we took when training some of our National & International Cricket players here in South Africa. Every session was a mind blowing experience as we designed exercises that were specific to each of their needs. It is so rewarding to hear them say that they cannot believe the impact it has had or how working with so little load can be so intense (of course we increased the load as we progressed).

So we decided to share our report of their work with you. We have obviously kept the privacy of their names for now.

Cricket assessment and report:

Shoulders: (all players)

  • No natural glide of the scapula as the shoulder is flexed or abducted
  • No effective use of the Serratus Anterior
  • Over activation of the Upper Trapezius and Levator Scapula
  • Over activation of rhomboids and middle traps during shoulder stability
  • Compensations during rotator cuff work
  • Plank position was dominated by Pectoralis Major and loss of Serratus Anterior
  • Some complained of pinching in flexion with slight abduction


  • Weak gluteus maximus in aligned, isolated work
  • Weak gluteus medius when hip stability was performed. They did low reps
  • Compensations occurring when doing hip stability (all players)
  • Over activation of TFL during hip stability training (all palyers)
  • Knee alignment when exercising needed to be addressed

Thoracic spine:

  • Player 1: seems to work and stand with an extended thoracic spine. This does not allow him to close his rib cage properly as he does core training. The implication of this is that his core cannot complete its contraction and therefore the lumbar spine stability is compromised. The constant extension in his lumbar spine makes it challenging for him to strengthen his abdominals in normal abdominal work. If he is not able to strengthen the abdominals efficiently then again his spine will be compromised.

Lumbar spine:

  • All of the players seem to flex their lumbar spine very easily, this may be due to the stance when waiting on the field during the game as well as the batting position. It forces the spine to stay in flexion and the result of this is weakened lumbar spinal muscles in their concentric (shortened) state. This will mean the spine’s stability is compromised.


Shoulders: (all players)

  • Effortless shoulder stability by linking the mind to the inferior angle of the scapula
  • Making the players more aware of where the scapula is, how it moves and what it should feel like
  • Teaching each player the art of free movement of the shoulder joint
  • Increasing shoulder ranges with stability
  • Increasing stability endurance by adding resistance (gliding discs, Pilates equipment, free weights, therabands)
  • Ensuring that the shoulder can stabilize in all positions
  • The ultimate objective is involuntary stability of the shoulder joint through repetitive stability training


  • Functional activation of Gluteus Medius to stabilize the hips and this will add to lumbar spine stability. It will also add to knee stability whereby less work is expected from the TFL, hence the ITB.
  • Hip stability isolation in order to obtain a maximum contraction in the muscles at a low load of training.
  • Gluteus Maximus activation without the common compensation of hamstring dominance.
  • Hip flexor training without the compensation of flexing the lumbar spine to give them an illusion of height or intensity.

Thoracic spine:

  • Stability and strength of the entire spine is needed. There is a definite increase of bulk on the right hand side of all of the player’s spines. This will definitely be influenced by both bowling and batting as it requires a handedness motion.
  • Abdominals need strengthening as they seem to like to extend their thoracic spines.

Lumbar spine:

  • The lumbar spines are compromised due to the habitual position that they put their spines in (flexion) Due to this they have a lot of mobility in flexion but too little stamina in extension.
  • Player 1: needs to work his back extensors in a more neutral position as not to aggravate his current condition.
  • Player 2: also needs to be aware of not over-extending his lumbar spine when he tries to ‘correct’ his posture. He was also tucking quite a bit in a postural position to overcome the lumbar strain but we suggest a more neutral position. The tuck will encourage lengthening of the lumbar spinal extensors and this will mean less strength and stability in this area.
  • Creative ways to work the less dominant side of the back will be done in order to maintain more balance around the spine.

Feedback and progression:

We have been so amazed at the progress of those who were consistent with their classes They have achieved the following:

Player 1:

  • He has focused so much in these classes. He has improved tremendously with his mind body connection and this will reap him the rehabilitation and strength results that he needs.
  • He is now able to glide the scapula with the use of the serratus anterior
  • He is aware that he extends his thoracic spine too much and therefore he struggles with anterior torso stability
  • His spinal isolation into a neutral spinal position is performed really well compared to the first session
  • His Serratus Anterior is activating really well at this point but does fatigue when we do isometric training
  • We are able to work his back extensors without his spine going into extension.

Player 2:

  • We are now able to target the one side of his spine and he can feel it working
  • He has a much better idea of where his pelvis should be in order to support his spine
  • His mind body connection has improved tremendously especially when it comes to shoulder stability
  • He is able to glide his blade without too much effort from the scapula elevators (these were predominating all movement in the beginning)
  • He is able to activate his Serratus Anterior without compensation

Player 3:

  • He is now able to raise his arms with gliding scapula and no unusual pinch occurring in his shoulder joint.
  • He has improved tremendously in his Serratus Anterior, to the point where he complained that it was really stiff after the classes.
  • He feels a tremendous amount of work around the stabilizers of the shoulders when we target shoulder stability.
  • He is now able to do a few more repetitions when we do hip stability training.
  • His mind body connection has improved drastically with regards to hip and shoulder stability as well as spinal isolation.

Player 4:

  • He has improved tremendously with regards to shoulder stability. His sessions were focused on shoulder stability, strength and functional movement only.
  • He is able to feel the blade glide along the rib cage. We are currently working on the left shoulder to achieve the same results as we have achieved on the right.
  • He is able to stabilize the scapula when the shoulder is under load.
  • He is able to stabilize the scapula when the shoulder is under load with movement.
  • He can feel an intense amount of work in the rotator cuff and shoulder stabilizers in every session
  • His improvement has been amazing in such a short space of time and he says he is bowling better than he has in a long time with ease of movement.

It has been such a pleasure to work with these guys as they are focused, goal driven and really work incredibly hard. We are very excited to see how far we can take them especially because they have reached this point in only 5 weeks. 

As the program progresses, it will become more challenging for them as we have an array of work up our sleeves. We are focused on achieving less injuries as well as functional strength for their sport to enhance their current abilities. 

Ask yourself:

  1. If you want to train sportsmen/women, would you be able to write a report as the above?
  2. What do you think the exercises were that we had designed in order for them to achieve the above in such a short space of time?

Thinking out of the Box is part of our Career. At we bring innovation, kinetic precision, anatomy and real CLIENT SPECIFIC training to the forefront. Our objective is to address specific joints in specific courses to enable a professional to bring this information together in order to create a GREATER WHOLE!

Click here to read a blog that tells you more about our approach to shoulder stability.


Tanya Thompson – CEO and founder; & Pilates Unlimited – the Art of Movement

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