England's strength and conditioning coach Huw Bevan explains how to switch into Twenty20 mode.
By Oli Burley - @SkySportsOli
Last Updated: 07/09/12 3:00pm
England's build-up to the defence of their World Twenty20 title begins in earnest on Saturday when they take on South Africa in the first of three matches.
The shortest format of the game places different demands on players and coaches alike, so focused and productive preparation is essential.
England's Strength and Conditioning coach, Huw Bevan, offered an insight into what's required at a master-class session organised as part of the Sky Sports ECB Coach Education programme, which aims to attract and train coaches at all levels in England and Wales.
The 12 participants - ranging from local club coaches, to district coaches and Wales county coaches - specially selected by Cricket Wales in recognition of their outstanding services to grassroots cricket and he was deeply impressed with their work...
HUW: Every coach here is a true ambassador for cricket in Wales and it's great to meet them all and showcase some of the techniques I use to train the England team. Conditioning your body so you can perform at your best is fundamental to achieving success in cricket, so I hope a few of the guys here take away some key lessons.
So what specifically did you focus on?
HUW: We looked at some fundamentals - that means working on basic postures, correct alignments and movement patterns and then assessing the best way to pass those skills onto their own teams. Analysis can help to improve anyone's game but if you get the basics right in the first place, you should see players progressing at a faster pace.
Tell us more...
HUW: We focused on a number of different movement patterns including the squat, the lunge, and the push-pull. Then we identified areas where those come into play in cricket and looked at ways of developing power in those movements, to enhance speed and flexibility in cricket-specific areas. It might be running between the wickets and changing direction or how you can field the ball more quickly without sustaining injury - essentially developing drills to improve your all round game
They sound like drills you could practice in your own back garden...
HUW: That's exactly what I want to encourage people to do and take away with them. We do use a lot of gym-based equipment in what we do - some broom handles, elastic bands, medicine balls - but we won't perhaps use this equipment for exactly what it was intended for; we'll adapt them to help young kids learn how to perfect technique. You don't need to spend vast sums of money on equipment; it's more important to hone your skills and then gradually increase the load if you want to get really fit and strong in those areas.
So it's important that youngsters don't become preoccupied with resistance training?
HUW: Exactly. They key is to make sure you get a perfect technique before you overload it because what tends to happen is that people try to lift as much as they possibly can before their bodies are ready. Kids won't gain from increasing muscle mass while they are still developing. But they will get core-related benefits through drills - they'll get faster, stronger and become more efficient if they use the correct movement patterns.
Do the drills you use with the England squad change with the format they're playing?
HUW: To a certain extent, yes. The one-day and T20 formats are a shorter, more dynamic forms of the game so we do tend to do more explosive activities in order to help the players prepare for the games. The actual things we focus on remain the same but we may do them slightly differently. For example, we may put more of an emphasis on being more dynamic by increasing running speeds. But those elements of the game are coming into Test cricket as well, so we do shift the emphasis but there isn't a massively noticeable difference.
Our experts tell us it's very different playing cricket here than in India. Does that have a bearing on how you work with a player?
HUW: Certainly we look at environmental conditions. We try and prepare as much possible for those conditions so that when we go into very hot and humid conditions we acclimatise as soon as possible. Some of the benefits you get from aerobic training for example are very similar to those that you get when you acclimatise to the heat. So if you get a head-start in that regard, then it's a good idea. So we might shift the focus away slightly from power to towards increasing a players' overall capacity or we may use acclimatisation chambers before they go. We have also sent players over to where they will be playing early so they can prepare in the environment in which they are going to have to play. Quite a lot of planning goes into it.
South Africa spent some time in the Alps with the explorer Mike Horn before this summer's Test series. Have you ever done anything similar?
HUW: Prior to the last Ashes in Australia we went on a camp in Germany which had a physical element to it where we put the players under pressure and a psychological element to it and we got some very clear benefits from that, not least because the main focus of that was team-building. If you go through those types of experiences together, it does create a bond between team-mates, which should make you all stronger on the field of play.
The Sky Sports ECB Coach Education Programme aims to attract and train coaches at all levels of cricket in England and Wales. More than 45,000 coaches have gone through the scheme since 2006, with a growing number of young, qualified female coaches engaged.