11 questions with Darren Stevens! How time and KYMIRA technology have changed training for the better
We have written a lot here on how KYMIRA is a perfect blend of form and function, and a tool extremely adaptable and compatible with any other golf aids or trainers you could ever want! Today we have a special piece with Cricketer Darren Stevens, an avid advocate of KYMIRA and the freedom it is offering him in his career.
I often highlight the real freedom KYMIRA gives you and this interview encapsulates so much of what makes these technological breakthroughs in gear so important. With men like Stevens committing to healthy, muscle-focused routines no matter their age it is vital that the gear they use is up to their speed and supporting them in their dedication to their body and sport. KYMIRA allows sportsmen and women to keep their expectations in line with their reality and achieve great feats in their sports.
Darren Stevens is a veteran of physical maintenance and has been taking his training seriously enough that he wants it to continue into his older years. In fact, his workouts have earned him a place as one of the 5 Wisden Cricketers of the year! At 45, this makes him the eldest player to receive such an honour since 1933! He continues to perform at the very top of the domestic game, long after many of his contemporaries retired. His recent 190 run knock is a testament to his ability to thrive against players literally half his age!
KYMIRA Sport interview Darren Stevens
KYMIRA spoke at length about the game, his changing approach and how KYMIRA helps him to maximise his playing time and performance…
KYMIRA Sport: Darren, congratulations on being named as one of Wisden’s five Cricketers of the year. It’s a double celebration as you’re the oldest player since 1933 to be included in the list! How does that make you feel?
Darren Stevens: Thank you! Well, I got the phone call in October last year, so I’ve known all along, but I’ve had to keep it quiet since then! I told close family, but I couldn’t tell anyone at the cricket club!
Anything related to Wisden is just an honour. With the lads that have been picked, including young Zak Crawley from Kent as well – in fact I think that’s a first, two Kent lads together. It was a huge honour and I’m so happy. All the toil and hard work over the years has been worth it!
Darren Stevens on the change of training technology
Darren Stevens shows a remarkable passion and tenacity for his sport, it’s no wonder to us that he wants to continue his journey no matter the years. That toil and work is something he comes to respect and appreciate the difficulty of in the conversation:
KS: Cricket has often been criticised for being slow on the uptake in terms of professionalism relative to other sports. How has your personal approach to training changed over your 24 year career?
DS: A few different ways really. When you’re young everything you do is cricket, cricket, cricket. As a kid I’d be playing down at the sheds with my mates, then I’d be playing at weekends, weekdays. Then I got into the County scene, and I’d be playing and training there.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve had to reign all of that in. Even down to the warmups – I join in at the start, but because there’s a lot of football and touch Rugby being played, I have to stay out of all that stuff! These knees aren’t getting any younger and if I want to keep performing at that level, then I have to cut a few things out.
Getting involved with KYMIRA has been a blessing, a God send! I’ve been wearing it since October. I wear it every day and I don’t want to take it off. If I’m still performing, I’m still playing and the worry is if I take it off, I don’t want that old feeling back so I’m constantly wearing it!
It’s all about my training now. The club have been really good, and they allow me to do what I need to in order to be ready for the next game. I’ve found Pilates to be helpful, plus I have a lot more deep tissue massage now. I have to manage each session and each day, but I still love the game, and have massive passion for it. We played Northampton on the first game of the season and I had more butterflies then than I did on my debut! The desire’s still there to compete.
Darren hit the nail on the head for all of us that train and commit to a sport; It’s all about the training now. As much as sport is a huge and varied discipline, nothing helps you progress like training. Your muscles need to learn and grow, your endurance needs to keep up to your potential, your passion needs to be met by your strength.
Darren Stevens on his age and career highlights
Hearing Darren address that upkeep of his body, with KYMIRA at the helm of giving him that confidence is inspiring. He is a forthright sportsman, and able to admit his knees need the help. The fact he can be supported by KYMIRA even after accepting such a situation is a testament to the technology KYMIRA use, and the ferocity with which Stevens loves the sport.
With KYMIRA supporting him into these older years, KYMIRA asked what the effects of that support might be for sportsmen’s careers…
KS: We wrote a piece about extending sporting careers – many athletes achieve career highlights well into their 30s and 40s. Your career best batting and bowling figures were both achieved in your 40s – what do you put that down to?
DS: It’s hard really – I don’t think there’s one reason to be honest. It’s a number of things. Experience is important – you can’t pay for it. The times where I’ve had my best batting and bowling figures were down to the game situation. I’d been in those situations a lot of times before, so you use the experience to your advantage. On those days it just came off for me!
There’s not one single thing I can put it down to.
Darren Stevens can't sleep without KYMIRA on!
With so many factors in play, KYMIRA is proud to be supplying a product that can offer preparation for those game situations, and offer recovery for when it goes wrong…
KS: Recovery is a key area of interest for us at KYMIRA. How do you use KYMIRA products to accelerate your recovery?
DS: I don’t take it off! I wear the socks and leggings underneath my training kit. I wear the t-shirts to train in. I’m going to be wearing it to play in.
I put it on at the start of the day and basically don’t take it off. I sleep in my leggings and t-shirt every night and I wear my socks to play in!
Even I’ll admit that KYMIRA probably don’t intend their products to be pyjamas! But Stevens raises a great point about the adaptability of KYMIRA technology. With the science behind the clothing being so deep-rooted to the production of the garment it’s almost impossible to avoid KYMIRA Technology from having its intended effect!
Darren Stevens on shoulder muscle injury prevention
We spoke the other week about muscle maintenance and how Golf uses more muscle groups than many give golfers credit for. Looking after these groups constantly can be difficult, but Stevens is pathing a way in his commitment to KYMIRA clothing. Enhancing your own routine without having to change anything but your socks or shirt? Stevens is definitely winning us over…
KS: As a bowler you’re at a greater risk of shoulder injuries – do you perform any particular preventative exercises to maintain shoulder health?
DS: Not really. We keep our strength up with a lot of rotator cuff strength stuff, some band work, light weights, not too heavy. Bizarrely it’s not something we struggle with because we’re using it all the time. We don’t get long breaks in between where if you’ve not thrown for a while and all of a sudden you throw really hard or far you can pick up injuries.
I’ll bowl a few balls every day if it’s not a game situation just to tick over. I throw a few balls every day. We don’t get long breaks from doing it.
With Stevens facing constant practice and training he is avoiding some of the negative effects KYMIRA can help with. We can’t all have 24/7 access to the facilities we need when we need them, however, so for other sportsmen and women it is worth noting that KYMIRA gear not only helps men like Stevens out on the field every day but also helps ease muscles back into a routine after breaks. It’s all about upkeep, remember, and Stevens is a prime example of simple but effective muscle maintenance no matter your sport.
Darren Stevens on the culture of training and the cricket club
Having spoken about the changes to sports and training over the years, KYMIRA wanted to know about the changes to the culture around Stevens’ club…
KS: There was a drinking culture in cricket that was still present long into the 2000s. Is that still a part of the game or have you noticed a change in professionalism as a new breed or player comes through?
A lot! There’s a lot more protein shakes flying around!
Because we’ve got a few old heads in the changing room, if somebody has had a career best, a hundred or a fiver (5 wicket haul) we always try to sit down and have a beer to celebrate. We try and encourage that – it’s a good way to get the younger lads talking a bit, because they go into their shell a bit with the older lads knocking around. A couple of beers down they’ve got a loose tongue!
We try and keep that at our place, but at other clubs it’s gone. On away trips before COVID we’d go out and have a team meal and a few beers. It’s about communication and making the young lads feel welcome and comfortable in their work environment.
Muscle upkeep and maintenance doesn’t mean a lack of living, remember! I particularly like that Stevens highlights the importance of being comfortable and well-fed. It’s easy to get caught up in workouts and training while neglecting other muscles, your brain and your stomach (Okay, the brain isn’t a muscle but you follow the logic)!
When it comes to balance and moderation, sportsmen and women have it tough. Juggling physical and mental concerns with social ones can be a tall order, but with icons like Stevens espousing such a casual, engaged view of the balance here I am confident we can all find our sweet spot between the grind and the relaxation.
How Darren Stevens made this past decade his best!
With this mindset on display, KYMIRA wanted to ask more about Steven’s changes over the last decade…
KS: Have you changed your approach to training and games as you’ve moved through your 30s and into your 40s, especially with regards to bowling where the injury risk is higher?
DS: Bowling work, I do less. I do some basic bowling practice. I do a lot of basic drill work, keep the shoulder moving and do some target practice. The day before a game I’ll work at around 60-70% and in the game I’ll go in at 100%.
In the build ups I just try to maintain.
Batting is different – I do a lot of batting and hit a lot of balls. There’s an old cricket saying… ‘if you’re in nick, hit more balls. If you’re out of nick, hit fewer balls’.
KS: Your personal performances are showing no signs of decline – in fact they’re getting better! Is that because you’ve maintained your physical peak for a long time, or are you just a smarter, more effective player through experience?
DS: It’s a bit of a combination. The main thing for me is when I started bowling. I came to Kent in 2005. I bowled a little bit between 05 and 2010. I got to 2010 and I was bowling 50 overs a week.
Talking to the physios and fitness guys, they think it’s down to age and bone density. I’m older, whereas a lot of the young lads coming through haven’t developed fully yet. If you think about it, it makes total sense – I only really started bowling in my late 20’s and early 30’s, so I’d fully developed.
I’ve got 30-odd fivers, but I got my first one when I was 35! A lot of young lads don’t get 5 fivers across their entire career because they don’t last very long. I think that has a lot to do with it.
Flexibility and versatility are the two main takeaways of this great approach Stevens has to training. Respecting your body by not going all-out constantly is a great move, and supported by tools like KYMIRA you remove almost all risk of injury by simply treating yourself right. KYMIRA gear doesn’t lock you into some insane routine, it will always be there supporting your body in however much or little you choose to do. Stevens gets that, and if that moderation is what led to him becoming a top 5 Wisden Cricketer then I see no reason we shouldn’t all learn from that example.
Will Darren Stevens keep playing for years to come?
With Darren Stevens taking one-year contracts only for the past few years while still showing no signs of slowing down, KYMIRA wanted an insight into his plans for the future…
KS: With advances in training and recovery, KYMIRA technology, better sports science, how long do you see yourself playing for?
DS: Good question! I think since the age of 36 I’ve been retiring!
I have a meeting with the club in April. We’ll have a discussion about how the winter has gone, their thoughts and mine moving forward. In June/July time we’ll have a chat about whether or not I want to do another year.
If I say I’m done, it gives the club chance to find somebody who does my role. If I say I want to carry on it clears things up for them and gives me a little bit of security. So that’ll be the conversation we’ll have in June.
At the moment, I’m feeling good, I’m doing my job and I’m hoping they’ll give me another year!
Taking things a year at a time, that’s a move I can respect. Stevens has the passion and position to stay at this for years to come! The direct impact of science and technology on sports is proof that injury prevention and muscle care are pillars that no sportsman can ignore.
Darren Stevens reflects on overworking and pushing too hard
We often talk here about the physical effects of exercise and how to keep you on top of your game 100% of the time. Stevens is a great reminder that while pushing yourself to be on top is great, there’s another reward to be reaped and other considerations too…
KS: Your career has taken you overseas – what are the key differences in training and recovery between the UK and abroad?
DS: Overseas is completely different to England. I went to New Zealand for a T20 comp. They would play two T20 games in a week. You’d travel two days before, have a training day the next day, you’d play the game, have a day off, then travel the next day, so you’d have a lot more time to train and recover, go to the gym.
In England, you can’t do that. I was looking at our fixtures for June. We have a 4-day game, a day off, a T20 game, a day off, another T20 game and then we start a 4-day game the next day. It’s nuts. It’s CRAZY!
Whenever I’ve played abroad you get time off – you’ll play a game then have a week off. It’s basically like international cricket. They may play two one-day games in a week.
Over here it’s just relentless and you can understand why people get injured. There’s no rest and you can’t get into the gym as much to keep your strength up. It’s nuts.
We will never endorse such overworking! KYMIRA have begun to expand the minimum amount of safety we are all in when playing a sport, but we still need to be responsible. Stevens says “you can understand how people get injured”, and that is exactly the sort of situation KYMIRA are fighting against.
KS: Finally, what would the near 45 year Darren Stevens tell the Darren Stevens making his debut in 1997?
DS: Back then when I was a kid, it wasn’t a job for me then. It was more a case of me having a laugh with my mates and playing a bit of cricket. I didn’t see it as a profession.
I think I’d say to him now “don’t waste your ability. Understand what you are doing, it’s a privilege to play as a professional and to be a professional. Give it your all and try and take it to the next level”.
That’s one thing I’ll look back on in my career, not playing for England. I’ve been close a lot of times and a lot of friends who did play for England have said I was really close, but it never really happened. Somewhere along the lines I could have maybe switched on a little bit or got my head down more and things might have been different.
KS: Well even despite not playing for England, you’ve still managed to cram a lot into your cricket career, so congratulations on your continued success!
Darren Stevens gave a great testament to the lifestyle of a truly iconic sportsman. If by age 45 I can do half of what he can I will consider myself successful! In the end, we set our own goals, know our own limits. If Darren had never held himself at 60-80% he could have injured himself and had to go through recovery. He recognised his situation and got KYMIRA to help, and I think that is an example we can all respect.
You can follow Darren Steven’s Instagram for more insights!
You can even get your hands on your own KYMIRA gear here! And learn about how KYMIRA technology can take your performance to the next level, no matter your age.