Extra Fitness for Cricket – Leg Speed & Endurance @ Xmas Break

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’”
Muhammad Ali

The Christmas break signals in many senior cricket grade level competitions a point just beyond the half way mark.

If your team is in the upper half of the ladder then finals are within reach. A reward for the toil that in many cases started in the cold, dark months. Seemingly a long time ago.

If finals are not in the frame, then a choice awaits of playing out the season, probably more focused on the social nature on the circuit and being a good bloke.

But for those determined to get the most out of what is left to create the catalyst of a possible future change, now is the time. And hitting more balls in not just the answer.

For either situation, the break provides an ideal opportunity of some twenty (20) days where attention can be paid to the fitness levels that may have been neglected since pre-season.

The following program that primarily focuses on improving leg speed and endurance was designed by a dear friend, highly respected colleague and assistant coach in Paul McMahon. If Paul had not suffered debilitating knee injuries as a young sporting star in his country area, he may have had a different career path. However his life journey in Australia and the USA developed an expertise beyond cricket into high level track and field.

As a reference point, during the break of the 12/13 Victorian Premier Cricket season, Paul guided Bryce McGain through these sessions. At the time Bryce had completed his first class career with the Bushrangers but still had the intent to present himself in the best condition to be amongst the best players in the competition and an option in the Big Bash League.

Bryce was able to take 21 wickets in the remaining games – being a key contributor in his team making the finals, was selected in the Premier Team of the Year and played a match for the Adelaide Strikers. All this at an age when many would have been fading away. The extra attention to fitness helped his durability and focus.

Over a break of this duration, at least four of these sessions are recommended. It would be expected that the player would already have a regular running schedule. An athletics track is preferred although if not available, a typical football oval is approximately 400 metres in circumference. Allow around 90 minutes per session. If found that this helps, incorporate into regular training over the remainder of the season.

(These sessions are provided as a suggested guide, always consult your own coach or fitness staff for additional information and knowledge).


Paul McMahon  – Speed & Endurance

Needs: Water bottle, running gear & stop watch

• To improve both speed and cardiovascular endurance through controlled interval running after finding base levels.

Warm up:
• 800m (2 laps of track) easy, followed by comprehensive stretch especially in the legs.
• 5-6 strides of 50-75m at 75% of top pace, concentrating on correct running form. Both arms at 90 degrees driving, body upright, relaxed face. (Pace Bowlers: similar to bowling run up action).

• 1600m time trial (4 laps of track). This base measure will enable speed workout times in the future. For example, if a runner runs a 6 minute 1600m, then 400m pace is approx. 90 seconds, 800m time is 3mins etc.
• Easy lap and more stretching. Determine the required repeat times that will be a little quicker than best pace time. For example the 6 minute pace for 1600m would become approx. an 85 second 400m pace.
• 4x400m at determined pace. By running a little quicker than 1600m pace, it is expected that cardio threshold will be improved. Consistent times are the key. The 6 minute 1600m runner should run his 4x400m at even 85 sec. pace if possible. We do not want the first 400m at 80 sec and the fourth at 100secs.
• 1 minute rest between each 400m interval. 5 minute rest after the 4 are completed.
• Repeat another 4x400m at designated pace, with 1 minute rest between each interval and a 5 minute rest after all 4×400 are done.
(At this stage, total kms for the session is approx. 6-7kms).
• Fast bowlers in good condition should be able to complete another 1-2 sets of 4x400m at designated pace. Batsmen in good shape might be able to also!
• Cool down lap and partner stretches to finish.
• Total kms covered is approx 10kms.

• Running with someone else will push you harder. Running alone is difficult to gauge pace.
• Arm movements are as important as leg speed when you become tired and form falls away.
• Good running shoes are highly recommended, fitted to your foot shape and walking gait. Do you have flat feet, high or low arches? Your shoe should fit accordingly. Shoes should be changed at approx. 500kms of total distance even if they still look good.
• Water is the best hydration while running aided by something with electrolytes in it when the workout is finished.


“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’”
– Muhammad Ali


About Andrew Walton

Cricket exposure as a player, coach, fan, observer, analyst & tragic! Coached at Melbourne Cricket Club, Prahran Cricket Club. Premiership player and coach at South Yarra Cricket Club ~ Home of The Vincibles! Academy coach at Karnataka Institute of Cricket, Bangalore.
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