JL Freeston, T Carter, G Whitaker, O Nicholls and KB Rooney,
Journal of strength and conditioning research, 2016 06
Throwing velocity is an important aspect of fielding in cricket to affect run-outs and reduce the opponent's run-scoring opportunities. Although a relationship between strength and/or power and throwing velocity has been well established in baseball, water polo, and European handball, it has not been adequately explored in cricket. Consequently, this study aimed to determine the relationship between measures of strength and/or power and throwing velocity in cricket players. Seventeen male cricket players (mean ± SD; age, 21.1 ± 1.6 years; height, 1.79 ± 0.06 m; weight, 79.8 ± 6.4 kg) from an elite athlete program were tested for maximal throwing velocity from the stretch position and after a 3-meter shuffle. They were also assessed for strength and power using a range of different measures. Throwing velocity from the stretch position (30.5 ± 2.4 m·s) was significantly related to dominant leg lateral-to-medial jump (LMJ) distance (r = 0.71; p < 0.01), dominant shoulder internal rotation (IR) strength (r = 0.55; p ≤ 0.05), and dominant (r = 0.73; p < 0.01) and nondominant (r = 0.54; p ≤ 0.05) medicine ball rotation (MB Rot) throw velocity and medicine ball chest pass (MB CP) distance (r = 0.67; p < 0.01). A nonsignificant trend was observed for vertical jump (VJ) height (p = 0.06), whereas no significant relationships were observed for nondominant LMJ distance (p = 0.97), nondominant shoulder IR strength (p = 0.80), 1 repetition maximum (RM) squat strength (p = 0.57), 1RM bench press strength (p = 0.90), height (p = 0.33), or weight (p = 0.29). Multiple regression analysis revealed that dominant MB Rot and MB CP explained 66% of the variance. The results were similar for velocity after a shuffle step (31.8 ± 2.1 m·s); however, VJ height reached statistical significance (r = 0.51; p ≤ 0.05). The multiple regression was also similar with MB Rot and MB CP explaining 70% of the variance. The cricketers in this study threw with greater velocity than elite junior and subelite senior cricketers but with lower velocities than elite senior cricketers and collegiate level and professional baseball players. This is the first study to demonstrate a link between strength and/or power and throwing velocity in cricket players and highlight the importance of power development as it relates to throwing velocity. Exercises that more closely simulated the speed (body weight jumps and medicine ball throws) or movement pattern (shoulder IR) of overhead throwing were greater predictors of throwing velocity. Strength and conditioning staff should assess and develop power to enhance throwing performance in cricket players. Exercises with greater movement and speed specificity to throwing should be used in preference over exercises that are slower and have less movement specificity to the throwing motion. Cricket players should engage in power training to bridge the gap in performance between them and baseball players.