It can be hugely beneficial to do a proper warm up before you go out to bat in a game of cricket. Hopefully in this post, I can give you the information you need to perform an effective batting warm up!
The first thing I should mention is that I tend to separate batting warm ups into two different parts; The technical warm up and the physical warm up. The technical warm up allows us to get used to playing cricket shots, helps to get our feet moving positively and gets our head moving towards the ball. The physical warm up helps to stretch our muscles and raise our heart rate a little bit in preparation for the physical activity we are about to endure.
In this post I’ll take you through each of these types of warm ups and give you some drills that you can use during each of them! First let’s look at the technical warm up…
Technical Warm Up For Batting
The technical warm up should be used to build a bit of confidence in your batting before you start your innings. I usually like to do this kind of warm up in the hour before I am due to bat, because then you can take it straight into your innings! I have been a middle order batsman for most of my career, batting at 5, 6 or 7, so I’d start doing this technical warm up when my team were 3 or 4 wickets down!
There are a variety of different drills you can use for this type of warm up, let me take you through some of them…
Get A Partner To Give You Some Throw Downs
Throw downs are probably the best way to get yourself up to speed with the movement of the cricket ball. They’re also an incredibly easy form of practice to set up! If you want to do some throw downs to warm up before your innings, follow these steps:
- Make sure you’re wearing the right protective gear if you’re batting against a proper cricket ball.
- Try to get access to an outdoor net where you can practice. A lot of cricket clubs will have these close to the cricket field. If you don’t have access to one of those, you can do some throw downs near the boundary edge. Just make sure you’re not standing on the playing area, or hitting the ball on to it!
- Get yourself a partner, and make sure they’re armed with a few cricket balls
- Tell your partner to stand about a cricket pitch length away from you (20 metres), and throw the ball overarm towards you. They should aim to get the ball to bounce in similar areas that a fast bowler would!
- Your job is to simply hit the ball as you usually would during a game. Focus on watching the ball, your foot movement and your head position as you strike the ball.
- Ask your partner to target different areas of the pitch to force you to play different types of shots. During a throw down session, I’d want to try all of the different shots at least once!
You’ll see a lot of professional batsmen doing this kind of drill during their batting warm ups. In fact, batsmen like Steve Smith will have hundreds of balls thrown at him on each day of a match!
If you want to receive throw downs regularly, I’d strongly recommend buying yourself a sidearm thrower! Sidearm throwers are a great piece of cricket kit used by professional cricket coaches to simulate the speed of a real bowler during a throw down session. They’re pretty cheap, and I think this makes them especially attractive to club cricketers who don’t want to commit to buying themselves a bowling machine, but need something to add a bit of extra intensity to their practice!
In terms of the design, they basically look like a long flexible plastic rod with a cup on the end! The cricket ball is inserted into the cup, and then the coach will go through a throwing motion with the sidearm thrower in their hand. This causes the cricket ball to be fired out of the cup towards the batsman at high speed! I think they’re really useful because they allow your coach, your parent, or your friend to deliver fast, accurate throw downs with minimal effort! If this piece of kit sounds like it would be useful, then you can check the latest price of a sidearm thrower on amazon here! Also, it’s worth mentioning that the thrower I just linked to is capable for use with junior (4.75oz) and senior (5.5oz) cricket balls! These will not come included with the thrower, but you can easily pick them up separately on Amazon.
Foot Movement Drills
We all know how vital foot movement is to being a good batsman, and that’s why I think it’s important to get your feet moving properly before you go out to bat. Here are a couple of little drills you can do to make sure you’re moving your feet positively – one is for fast bowling, and one is for spin bowling…
When playing cricket shots against fast bowlers you will either have to move your front foot forwards to get to the pitch of full deliveries, or move your front foot back into your crease in order to stand up tall and play short deliveries. Therefore, I recommend rehearsing a mixture of these before you go out to bat!
For front foot shots:
- Get into your batting stance and have a coach or a partner drop a tennis ball around half a metre in front of you
- As the ball drops, keep your eye on the ball and step forwards with your front foot.
- Your front foot should now be close to the area where the ball has bounced. Once it is in this position, bring your bat through and strike the ball.
- Practice hitting the ball in different areas down the ground!
And for back foot shots, try this:
- Get into your batting stance and have a coach or a partner crouch down around 5 metres away from you.
- The coach or partner should then throw a tennis ball underarm towards your upper body without bouncing.
- This throw is intended to mimic the bounce off the pitch of a quick bowler.
- As the ball is coming towards you, move your front foot back towards your crease and play the ball on the back foot. You can play any type of shot that you like, although I recommend practicing a range of back foot shots like the pull, hook, and back foot defence!
Doing these kinds of drills before you go out should get your body used to moving in the correct ways for facing fast bowling!
If you choose to use your feet against a spinner, it will often involve advancing down the wicket towards them!
Here is a drill you can use to practice moving your feet to spinners before you go out to bat:
- Get into your batting stance and ask a partner/coach to stand about 5 metres in front of you.
- Then, ask them to throw a tennis ball up in the air with a decent amount of flight so that it lands a couple of metres in front of you. The key here is making sure that the ball bounces far enough away from you that you have to move your feet to get to the pitch! This probably works better if it is an underarm throw!
- The flight path of the ball should mimic the amount of flight that a spin bowler would get, with the ball travelling just over the height of your eyes before dropping down on to the pitch.
- Once the ball has been thrown, use your feet to move yourself quickly towards the area where the ball is going to land.
- Once you have gotten yourself to the pitch of the ball, you can strike it. Try to strike the ball in different places each time your partner/coach throws you the ball.
You don’t have to involve a ball or a partner/coach for this drill either! You can simply practice skipping down the wicket while imagining there is a bowler bowling to you! This is a type of shadow batting which we will discuss later.
The main things to remember when moving your feet and advancing down the wicket towards the spinner are:
- Keep your head and eyes level at all times
- Try to move in a straight line towards the bowler
- Make sure your initial movement is your front foot going forwards. Then bring your back foot towards it, crossing your feet over as you go.
- Always have a backup shot in mind – if you are coming down the wicket to attack, you’ll need a defensive option too in case the ball isn’t bowled where you thought it would be!
Head Movement Drills
If you’ve read any of my posts about batting before then you’ll know how much importance I place on the position of your head while you’re playing cricket shots. Moving your head towards the ball helps get the rest of your body in the correct position! Where your head goes, your feet will follow!
There’s a great warm up drill that I’ve used in the past to practice getting my head in to line with and towards the ball. Here is how it works:
- Get in your batting stance as normal
- Have a partner or a coach toss a ball in your direction. The ball can be thrown underarm or overarm.
- Ask your partner/coach to make the ball bounce on a full length. You want the ball to be one that you would usually come forward towards!
- As the ball is thrown towards you and you play your shot, keep your feet absolutely still!
- Focus on moving your head towards the line of the ball and getting your weight over your front knee as you make contact.
- Get your partner or coach to throw you multiple balls so you can really get used to moving your head towards the ball in this fashion.
This drill is so effective because in order to play a controlled shot while our feet are totally still, we have to move our head towards the ball to get our weight over it! If your feet are still and you don’t move your head towards the ball, the shot you play will be much less controlled and more likely to go in the air!
Don’t just take my word for it though, go try it out yourself! Get your partner to throw you a ball outside the off stump and try to lean your head into the shot without moving your feet. This kind of practice can be done on any kind of surface, with any type of ball. Just remember you may want to wear pads if you’re using a proper cricket ball.
This type of head movement is the exact sort of thing you should try and take into your innings. If you can combine good head position with good foot movement, then you’re on your way to being a great batsman.
Shadow batting is a simple little way of getting your body warmed up and ready for play, as well as practicing the technical aspects of cricket shots.
If you’re not sure what shadow batting is, it simply means practicing your shots when a ball hasn’t been bowled to you. You see batsmen doing this all the time! Before I go out to bat, I like to practice a variety of my favourite shots. For example, the cover drive, the square cut and the pull shot! Practicing your shots like this is a good way to get the technical aspects of your game correct, and as a bonus it gets your feet moving and blood pumping around your body!
I like to combine my shadow batting with a little bit of visualisation too. For example, I will get into my batting stance and imagine a fast bowler is running in to bowl at me. I will then imagine a delivery that he is likely to bowl, like a good length ball on an off stump line. I would then go into shadow batting mode and rehearse the type of shot I would play to that delivery! I think this is a good way to get in the right frame of mind for my innings!
Physical Warm Up For Batting
The physical warm ups for batting are a lot simpler, and a little less exciting! However, they are just as important. If you fail to warm up your muscles properly before you go out to bat, you can strain yourself and get injured much easier! Let’s face it, what would you rather do… a 5 minute warm up before you bat? Or avoid the warm up and pull a hamstring as you set off for your first run? I think I know the answer to that one! Injuries like that can stop us playing cricket for weeks/months and you definitely don’t want to put yourself in that position!
With that being said, here are a couple of simple things you can do before your innings to get your muscles prepared and to raise your heart rate…
Do A Bit Of Light Jogging
A bit of light jogging is a great way to get your heart rate up before you start your innings. Raising your heart rate is great for your body before physical activity because it helps to get oxygen to your muscles, and it also raises the temperature within the muscles, making them more pliable and flexible. This means you will be able to stretch your body out a lot easier, which is often essential when reaching that front foot down the pitch during your innings!
Because batting isn’t really an intense activity, your jogging warm up doesn’t need to be intense either. I’d recommend a couple of minutes of very slow pace jogging, or fast walking, to get yourself up to speed.
Perform Some Stretches
This is probably the most important part of the physical warm up, because batting involves getting ourselves into a lot of strange positions that our muscles need to be prepared for!
Stretching properly before you go out to bat can improve your performance, here are some advantages that it offers:
- Stretching helps us to avoid injuries caused by strenuous movements or activities
- It can increase the range of motion within our joints, which is important to batting if we want to stride down the wicket before striking the ball.
- Before we bat, we can become tense and nervous. Stretching can help to get rid of some of this tension and loosen up our muscles.
- Stretching also promotes blood flow to the muscles, which allows oxygen to get there faster, helping us to compete for longer.
There are also many more advantages! Here are a few specific stretches you should look to do before you bat
- Stretch out your hamstrings – This one is simple, and vital for any activities that involve explosive movements generated from the lower body like setting off for a quick single! All you have to do to stretch out your hamstrings is to sit on the floor with both legs straight out in front of you. Then, slowly extend your hands towards your feet and try to touch your toes. Once you get to your maximum range of motion, try to hold yourself there for 15-30 seconds. You should be able to feel the stretch in the back of your legs! You can also do this stretch one leg at a time, which can make it easier at first. You should ideally repeat this stretch 3 times on both legs.
- Stretch out your quads – Your quads are the muscles at the front of your thighs, and it’s a good idea to stretch those out too. To do this, stand up straight, and bend one of your legs at the knee until you can grab your foot and pull it up towards your back. Holding your foot in this position should stretch the front of your thigh. Try to hold this position for 15-30 seconds and then repeat with the other leg. You should ideally repeat this stretch 3 times on both legs.
- Stretch out your groin – this is another key area to stretch before you engage in physical activity. To do this, stand up straight with your legs a fair bit wider than shoulder width apart. Once you’re in this position, shift your weight slowly to the left by bending your left knee. Keep your right leg straight as you sink down towards your left knee, and you should begin to feel the stretch on the inside of your right leg! Hold this post for 15-30 seconds and then repeat for the other leg. You should ideally repeat this stretch 3 times on both legs.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading! In my opinion, physical and technical warm up drills are just one aspect of getting yourself ready for a day of batting! I also think getting yourself in the right mental state is incredibly important. If you’re someone who gets incredibly nervous before they bat, so much so that it negatively affects your ability to bat well, I’ve written a post just for you! In the post I share a few tips for getting rid of that nervous energy and getting yourself in the zone. Click here if you’d like to read it!