Previous research has investigated changes in athletes’ strength, power, and speed performances across the competitive season of many sports, although this has not been explored in cricketers. The aim of this study was to investigate changes in lower-body strength and jump and sprint performances across an English county cricket season.
Male cricketers (N = 12; age 24.4 ± 2.3 y, body mass 84.3 ± 9.9 kg, height 184.1 ± 8.1 cm) performed countermovement jumps (CMJs) and 20-m sprints on 4 separate occasions and back-squat strength testing on 3 separate occasions across a competitive season.
Both absolute (12.9%, P = .005, effect size [ES] = 0.53) and relative lower-body strength (15.8%, P = .004, ES = 0.69) and CMJ height (5.3%, P = .037, ES = 0.42) improved significantly over the preseason training period, although no significant change (1.7%, P > .05) in sprint performance was observed. In contrast, absolute (14.3%, P = .001, ES = 0.72) and relative strength (15.0%, P = .001, ES = 0.77), CMJ height (4.2%, P = .023, ES = 0.40), and sprint performance (3.8%, P = .012, ES = 0.94) declined significantly across the season.
The results of this study show that neither the demands of the competitive cricket season nor current in-season training practices provide a sufficient stimulus to maintain strength, jump, and sprint performances in these cricketers. Therefore, coaches should implement a more-frequent, higher-load strength-training program across the competitive cricket season.