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Cricket Season!

Summer is on its way, which means so is the emergence of the iconic Aussie summer sport cricket. You will even see our Senior Physio / resident athlete Kai Allison playing for the Pottsville cricket club this summer!

The demands of the sport of cricket can be variable depending on whether the player involved is a speed or spin bowler, and whether they field infield or outfield. For those who are bowling fast or consistently throwing from the boundary, the forces needed from their shoulders to generate speed on the ball are very high and with repetition this can lead to injury if the players shoulder musculature isn’t ready for the task. That is common sense, right?! To do difficult tasks with your shoulders they need to be strong. What is not common sense is the impact that the players ability to create forces through their lower body and trunk will have on their ability to bowl or throw with speed. With specific training of stepping patterns and trunk rotation patterning and strength, we can significantly reduce the risks of shoulder injuries in the overhead throwing athlete as well as improve performance.

Studies published by Oyama et. al (2009) and Richardson et. al (2015) showed that with poor control of stepping patterns and trunk rotation sequences there is an increase in electromyographic activity in the muscles of the rotator cuff and all of the stabilisers of the shoulder blade, as well as an increased external rotation range of motion in the cocking phase of the throw. That is technical talk to say that the amount of force going through your shoulder muscles is increased and the positions that your have to get into to achieve force in the throw are more precarious if you don’t have good control of your trunk and stepping patterns.

The other way to look at the information from the studies above is that we are able to reduce the forces through our rotator cuff (deep shoulder muscles) by adding rotation and stepping patterns which is great for injury prevention and performance, but it also suggests that if we are trying to specifically drive rotator cuff and scapular adaptation from our training, then we need to train them in isolation.

So the take away from the above info is that for building strong and resilient shoulders in the overhead athlete we need to be training both isolated rotator cuff / scapular muscle strengthening AND full body stepping + trunk rotation + shoulder rotation strength and patterning.

The other major aspect of maintaining shoulder health is throwing athletes is the ability to control acceleration and deceleration of our upper limb at the start/end of the throw. This wont just happen by itself with regular strength exercises, we need to be specific with our training.

That’s a lot of information about WHAT to do, so lets go through some examples of HOW to go about it. The following exercises are a non-exhaustive example program of some ways to target the goals above (I will put a video of these on our Instagram and Facebook in case the photos and explanation don’t make sense).

  1. Band / Cable shoulder internal & external rotations

With these exercises we need to be working on strength through range of our shoulder joint, and to be more specific to the throwing motion they need to be completed in a range of different shoulder positions. The classic position for these is elbow by your side with the rotation, but that alone wont drive change in a throw. Other suitable positions to work on these rotations include 90degress of glenohumeral abduction, and also in 90degress of glenohumeral flexion + neutral horizontal adduction (see the pictures and these positions will make a lot more sense). These will be good at building general rotator cuff strength and can be great as a warm-up exercise.


  1. Weighted Ball accelerations/ decelerations

This exercise is a little trickier to complete solo and is best done in pairs (unless you’re really tricky and bounce the ball from a wall). One person in the pair is doing the acceleration/deceleration exercises and the other is being an assistant and throwing the ball into the right place to catch. I like to do these in a kneeling lunge position, however you can do them in sitting or standing too. The assistant will throw the weighted ball to the athlete at just above shoulder height, and the athlete’s goal is to catch, control and recoil the ball back to their partner.

  1. Single and double hand Palloff press

Despite looking very similar, the outcome and goals of these exercises is quite variable. I have put them together in this program as I like to complete them in a superset with both exercises. The amount of external load being used will be significantly less for the single hand compared to the double. The goal of the single hand version is to be active through the muscles in the back of your shoulder/ shoulder blade while your arm is in a position out in front, whereas the double hand version becomes an anti-rotation exercise for the muscles of your trunk. While being less specific to the throwing motion, these are both great for learning to activate and control the muscles needed in the throwing pattern. When done well, it will look like you aren’t doing much, as the goal is to only move from the shoulders and limit movement from the rest of your body.


  1. Swiss Ball DeadBug

The target of this exercise is to learn/practice simultaneous activation of the muscles that we will use in the trunk rotation to create momentum before we get to the shoulder rotation. We need to be pressing downwards into the swiss ball with our arms and upwards with our thighs, then maintain this contraction as we take away the opposite hand and leg. The remaining contact points will ensure that we are active through the hip flexors on one side, through the trunk/abs to the opposite shoulder. This is exactly the force transfer we need when patterning our throwing.

  1. Cable weighted step & rotate

In the deadbug we have worked on activation, now this is putting activity into motion. Start slow and work on the step into the activation pattern created in the deadbug, then following through with the hands. This exercise can be completed slowly with moderate resistance for motor patterning, or with lighter weights and more speed to be more specific to the true throw.

As mentioned earlier, this is a sample program of some of the many appropriate ways to achieve the goals mentioned in the first part of the blog. As every person/athlete is individual, their program should reflect this so if you need assistance or help with any of the above exercises, or others you are doing in your strength work don’t hesitate to contact us for assistance.

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