Fitness key to Yorkshire success
With so much emphasis on fitness as an essential part of a modern cricketer’s lifestyle, several counties have employed specialist coaches to make the most of all resources available.
Yorkshire’s Tom Summers graduated from Newcastle University with a BSc in sports science and is just completing an MSc in conjunction with Leeds Met Carnegie, which he has been able to do alongside his role as strength and conditioning coach at Headingley.
He clearly enjoys his job, and the results are there to see, with the current Yorkshire squad looking to be one of the fittest on the circuit.
“They have had a great off-season,” Summers told ecb.co.uk. “The guys who have been around have trained really well.
“We build it up over the winter, giving them plenty of time off, but with the emphasis being on hitting the ground running in the in-season.
“Bowlers will spend a lot of their winter building up their strength - they are expected to have lost some during the season.
“Then they will apply that to more explosive and powerful actions and gradually taking it from the gym and machines and weights to med ball work.
“They are getting their core stability and they are getting the rotation and they are getting as close to their bowling action as possible.”
Summers’ own day-to-day job during the season is very varied.
“It’s a flexible role and not just set in stone, which makes it interesting,” he said. On the first day of a championship match. you have got to be able to warm up for any speciality.
“The guys do a lot of shoulder prep, throwing, and play a little game to get their hearts pumping and their blood flowing.
“After that I will just be working with them on their skills, and making sure they use the time well between warm-ups and playing, and that they are fully fit and fully energised and fully hydrated.
“That’s a really big key. We are working hard this year to make sure the guys are getting fluids on board at the right times, so they are not waking up the next day feeling dehydrated, with headaches and aches and stiffness.”
Summers clearly leads by example - he is in peak physical condition himself - and realises the importance of his job to top sportsmen, confirming that Yorkshire have taken to it well.
“None of them are disobedient,” he said. “We have got some who are very conscientious, like Richard Pyrah.
“They are all in great shape, but some of them take it more on board and pay a lot of attention to it.”
Exercises and nutrition are now part and parcel of cricket, but Summers admits that he does not have any control over what the players eat and drink.
“They are not set diets or curfews, but they are required to record a lot of their intake just so we are able to give our own advice on how to maintain their energy levels and fitness during the season,” he said.
“We’ve got a very good nutritionist whom we consult and who works with the players whenever they need to.
“Some of the players will come to us and ask for a bit of advice regarding pre-match and post-match nutrition. That’s important, and good that they do.”
However, it is not just what the cricketers eat that is important, but also when they eat it, according to Summers, who added: “They could well be playing a match and not finishing until nine or 10 o’clock and then getting on the road to travel to the next place.
“You don’t want the guys necessarily stuffing their faces full of lots of bread and pasta that late at night. It is finding the right times to eat the right type of carbs.
“They have been playing for years and they know what does and doesn’t work. All we do is just tweak little bits and adapt things and move it on with the scientific background we have."
Protein is also an essential part of a cricketer’s diet, with protein shakes and recovery drinks and supplements being just as important as filling up on carbs.
“On the whole it is maintaining their levels,” Summers agreed. “During the one-day and Twenty20 season it is high-octane stuff. It is a real buzz.
“We make sure their cricket is progressing without ruling it with an iron fist.”