The Team behind the Team: Tom Webster
Find out more about Lancashire's Strength and Conditioning Coach, Tom Webster
In the opening instalment of our ‘Team behind the Team’ series, which first appeared in Spin Magazine, we spoke to Lancashire’s Strength and Conditioning Coach Tom Webster to find out more about his role and what his job entails.
First up…what’s the role of a Strength and Conditioning Coach?
As a Strength and Conditioning coach, my primary role is to ensure that the players are robust enough to cope, and excel, with the demands of first class cricket.
The role has two main folds to it. Firstly, to make sure that are lads are physically conditioned to perform optimally and secondly to minimise the risk of injury. That’s our ultimate aim, to keep your best players on the park for as long as possible.
What is involved in fitness testing for the Lancashire squad?
They’re put through a batch of testing from skinfolds that looks at their body composition, core stability testing with planks, counter movement jumps to measure lower-body power, push and pull before doing a maximal press up and inverted row test to look at upper body muscular capacity and balances.
They then partake in some running based testing in 20m sprints, run two agility tests to replicate running between the wickers and finish with a Yo-Yo test. We analyse the results and put together a tailored programme for each individual player, identifying where each played can improve.
WATCH: The Lancashire squad are put through their paces by Tom Webster last year.
In terms of a cricket player, what aspect is important in strength and conditioning?
This will depend on the player’s role within a team. Fast bowlers are the players are we need to make sure are conditioned the most out of all the roles within cricket. Particular aspects for bowlers in terms of S&C is core stability and core strength, lower body power and strength to minimise the risk of injury.
When they’re bowling, there’s over ten times the players’ weight that’s going over their front knee so they need to be strong and robust, particularly when they’ve got a heavy workload over a course of a long season.
How does fitness differ depending on the sport – Football, cricket, rugby for example?
It’s very different. There are different demands on the body depending on the sport.
Cricket is more of an intermittent sport so there’s a need for strength and power at certain stages, whilst in football you need a constant endurance over a shorter period of time. For rugby, you need that explosive power, whilst first class cricket lasts six hours over a course of the day, lasting up to four days. Particularly for the bowlers, the amount of workload they get through during a four day game is huge and recovery for the players is vital.
Ultimately, if you speak to any S&C coach in football or rugby, they’re going to look to optimise performance and minimise the risk of injury so that’s the same mantra, whatever sport you’re in.
How does strength and conditioning change player-by-player?
Each player has a tailored, specific programme that completely differs player-by-player.
For example, the bowlers will have a lower body focus looking at core strength and stability, batsmen will be a little bit more generic, whilst wicket keepers will look to replicate the short explosive movements they experience in various planes of movement.
It depends on each athlete’s role within the team, but also their injury history. We’ve got all of their injuries throughout the career, and if they’ve got a recurring injury, their programmes will be put together with that in mind.
What’s the most rewarding part of being an S&C coach?
The most rewarding part is just to see the lads doing well out on the field. If a player has been out injured for a long time, and you’ve picked him up from rock bottom having just had an operation, and he fully recovers and performs to the best of his ability for Lancashire, you take a lot of pride from seeing their success.
Have you got any examples of a player you’ve worked hard with at Lancashire where you’ve played an import role in getting him back to fitness?
Alex Davies is probably the player that springs to mind. Alex suffered a bad knee injury where he missed most of the 2016 season, and for him having had such a good 2015 season, it was devastating for him.
From right at the start following his operation, he had to do some isometric quads and was non-weight bearing for a period of time, through to getting him back in the gym. He had a long rehab through from September all the way through to March. He came to Dubai with the squad and he had a gradual return to training before playing in every County Championship and One-Day Cup game in 2017 and was then selected in the England Lions squad.
That was incredibly rewarding and pleasing to see, because you work so hard with the player behind the scenes, and ultimately it’s nice to know that you’ve played a role in him getting back to full fitness.
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