Since the 1998/99-season cricket Australia has conducted an annual ongoing injury survey, recording injuries in all of Australia’s first class players. This information has proved enormously beneficial for the management of Australia’s elite players. Across the world this collection of information of adult cricket players and their injuries has been growing, but what about injuries in junior cricket players? The research for injury patterns in junior players is scarce. One relatively recent study was undertaken by a group in the South African Journal of Sports Medicine, this five-year retrospective study recording data on the injuries of elite junior cricketers and compared their injury patterns to senior elite players.
Adult studies have shown fast bowlers are the most likely to become injured during the delivery and follow through, followed by fieldsman and then batsmen. This study found that junior fast bowlers were the most likely to become injured however these occurred mainly during the run-up and delivery. With fieldsman and then batsmen coming in second and third for injury occurrence.
Studies have found that adult cricket players are more likely to sustain injury in the first two months of the season, with injuries predominantly happening during matches. On the other hand junior players were more likely to become injured in 1-day matches or practice throughout the entire season.
Junior and senior players showed similar injury patterns for lower and upper limbs. However, junior players sustained more back and trunk injuries. According to the researchers 49% of injuries sustained by junior cricketers are in the back and trunk. We would expect this number to be high due to the high prevalence of stress fractures predominantly in fast bowlers. However, it was found that for under 15, 17 and 18 year old teams 27%, 25% and 18% respectively were muscular injuries in the back and only 12%, 8% and 9% respectively accounted for stress fractures in the back. This finding would appear to be in conflict with the high incidence of stress fractures reported in most other studies in regards to young fast bowlers.
The correlation between increased workloads and increased likelihood of injury amongst fast bowlers was confirmed with this study and has been well known in the cricket community for many years. The authors suggested that fast bowlers were more likely to become injured if they bowled 50 balls per day more than three times a week. Current Australian research has found that not only is the number of balls bowled a critical issue but also how frequently. It is much better if you are a 16 year old to bowl three times per week five to six overs each time, rather than attempting to bowl a lot of overs on the weekend. Once your program is finished with Andre it is important that you continue to bowl regularly over the holidays, going down to the nets, warming up and bowling five overs two to three times per week. Don’t attempt to bowl the five overs all at once because you don’t do that in a game, rather in a match you bowl an over and then you have an over off. Attempt to mimic that in your training session. If you follow this simple rule, you will arrive at the start of your cricket season with a regular bowling workload, which will enable you to handle the increased load of the season. Remember that fast bowling is highly demanding intense activity, which requires you to be fit, flexible, uninjured and bowling regularly.
According to the study, overuse injuries are found to be more common in the under 15-year-old team. This could be due to the athletes playing more than one sport, or playing for more than one team. As overuse injuries are becoming more common and are increasing in younger athletes it is important that coaches, players and parents are monitoring the workloads that are being implemented. This is why Andre takes injury prevention and workload monitoring seriously.
To ensure injury prevention the following points must be taken into consideration:
– Always warm-up and cool-down appropriately
– Wear the right protective equipment for all training and matches
– Stay hydrated and well fueled (eat quality food) before, during and after training or matches
– Maintain good leg strength, shoulder strength and core stability
– If you want to make technical changes to your batting or bowling, it is important to make these changes slowly. Do not attempt to go down to the nets and spend an hour, running through a new action but rather slowly introduce it over a period of time and ensure you are working with your coaches who are able to monitor these changes