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Every street to every stadium in India is filled with cricket-loving and playing people. Cricket has grown over the years to become a dynamic high-energy sport that demands a level of fitness at par with any global sport. Cricket is a great form of exercise with numerous benefits to our health.
Health Benefits of Playing Cricket
Let’s delve into some of the health benefits of cricket.
Playing any sport regularly will increase your stamina. Cricket historically has been seen as a sport that does not require a lot of stamina, but a Test match player has to last 5 days, whether they are batting, bowling or fielding. Regularly engaging in 5-10 over games and gradually increasing the number in terms of your career will help you grow your stamina to a professional scale. Even if you play for leisure, it is good for your general health.
A Lot of people confuse stamina and endurance. Your stamina is your mental and physical capability to play a sport, and endurance is your body’s physical limit to sustain an exercise for a long period. Cricket is a long game, with a 10-over match also lasting 2 hours. Every player is in action on the field, with fielders requiring constant movement and the obvious effort from the batsman and the bowler. Training for endurance and playing in the match itself are good ways to build endurance.
Balance and Hand-Eye Coordination
The base of the gentleman’s sport is hand-eye coordination. The batsman has to look at the ball till he can decide where to hit it and send a message to his body to place itself accordingly while maintaining his balance with footwork. Balance is key to a bowler as well. Better balance and coordination results in better pace and line for a bowler. A fielder can take batter catches and improve their acceleration if they continue playing the sport.
Flexibility and Physical Fitness
Training for constant periods improves a person’s mobility and invariably their physical fitness. Fielding in positions like slips and short leg requires great amounts of flexibility as the fielders have to stretch and react in milliseconds. A batsman and a bowler need to be at the top of their fitness while battling each other. Cricket improves the overall fitness quality of a human being. The drills performed for flexibility and fitness must be designed to cater to cricket. It would help in building sport-specific fitness.
A lean body and being physically fit can be achieved without muscle building as well, but a healthy mix of muscle building and cardiovascular workouts make a good physique for both aesthetic and internal purposes. Your body is made of bones which are supported by tissues and muscles. Cricket works almost all your muscles in the body and tones them. From something as small as your wrists in bowling and batting to your whole body while fielding, cricket gives you explosive muscle strength.
The human body functions on motor skills for movement. Motor skills are of 2 types. We have large muscle groups like legs, arms, hips, and torso, which are essential for basic human movement. Then there are smaller muscle groups like the fingers, wrists, feet, and mouth which are essential for smaller movements. Cricket is one of the few sports that utilize both these muscle groups in a large capacity. To break it down, a simple full-length ball bowled requires the use of gross motor skills when the run-up starts, through the run-up starts using fine skills and is a bowler with power coming from the back up to the wrist, utilizing and strengthening your motor skills.
Other Benefits of Cricket
Apart from the sport-specific skills, cricket helps develop other life skills that can be applied to any other aspect of human endeavour. Let’s take a brief look at such skills.
Although there are moments of brilliance in this game for individuals, cricket is a team sport! Be it playing in your ‘Gully’ with your childhood friends or battling it out in a tough competition in Oval Maidan, the success of your team is based on things other than skill level as well, like the understanding and camaraderie between the team.
Ultimately, the game is played on one day and your skill level will have the highest merit, but the locker room banter, the training, and the outings with your team are what make a good squad. These social skills translate to life as well if cricket is not your career. It helps you make better connections in life and excel at making friends. Virat Kohli summarizes this beautifully in this interview where he speaks about his and M.S Dhoni’s understanding.
Focus and Concentration
Judging a palm-sized ball travelling at a speed of at least 60 Kmph and hitting it with a speed of 80 Kmph only for a fielder to catch it while running required a great amount of focus and concentration, wouldn’t you agree? Cricket greatly improves your vision and concentration which translates to life as well and helps it immensely.
In a sport like cricket, which is a team sport, there are such moments of individual brilliance. A good patch of form in a local league game will keep your head and shoulders above everyone around you that day. A bad game can knock your confidence but the backing of your teammates instils confidence in you. The game makes you take split-second decisions no matter where you play in the team. These decisions over time make you more confident in the game and life, making you a better player and person.
The game of cricket is beneficial to our health in a variety of ways. The game’s dynamic nature makes it a high effort sport, which helps one maintain their physique and their mental well being. So what are you waiting for? Start your journey to becoming fitter now! Grab your mates and head out for a game of cricket.