#81 - Can I increase my fast twitch muscle fibres?

QUESTION

Can I increase my fast twitch muscle fibres?


ANSWER

Hey,

There is a deep science to muscle fibre types and their roles but we’ll try to keep our response as simple as possible. You are born with 2 types of muscle fibres:

1. Type 1 – Slow twitch

2. Type 2 – Fast twitch (Type 2 fibres have a sub-category of Type 2a and Type 2b)

The ratio of your fibres is determined at birth and is completely random. For example, you can be born with a ratio of 70% slow twitch and 30% fast twitch.

What do they do?

Type 1 fibres are used for long, endurance activities so if you’re doing a 5km run, your Type 1 fibres will be at play.

Type 2 fibres are used for short, explosive bursts so if you’re throwing a ball fast, sprinting or jumping high, your Type 2 fibres are at play.

Why are fast twitch fibres so important?

The quicker you can activate those type 2 fibres, the more speed and power you will generate. Fast bowling is a high power, speed activity so having fast twitch fibres can be extremely beneficial to your ability to produce huge amounts of force at a rapid rate.

What if I’m not born with a lot of fast twitch fibres?

The great news is that you can train them. Your muscles are made up of fibres and with the right type of training, you can influence and convert your ratio of fibre type. Think of being born with fewer fast twitch fibres as a setback, that’s it.

How can I train them?

Contrary to what people think, heavy lifts actually develop Type 2 fibres. For example, to do a heavy deadlift, you need to recruit fibres fast in order to get the bar off the ground. If your movements are slow, you won’t get enough velocity through the bar and you will fail the lift. So heavy compound lifts can be great for developing fast twitch fibres.

Explosive movements like sprinting, jumping and throwing are also great for developing fast twitch fibres.

But you must remember..

Fast twitch fibres are only designed for short bursts so if you’re planning on sprinting for 5 minutes or doing 16 reps on a deadlift or throwing a medicine ball 100 times – you will not be training your fast twitch fibres. You need to keep your reps relatively low and high in speed and power output in order to make sure your body and fibres and being pushed to the absolute limit. Type 2 fibres fatigue very quickly and you need a fair amount of rest between sets in order to properly recover before you can go again. If you don’t follow these principles, you will be doing more harm than good!

Cheetah’s are the fastest animal on the ground. Why don’t they run at top speed all the time?

Those fast twitch fibres aren’t designed for that, they need rest!

I hope that helps.

All the best.


Do you want to know how the professionals bowl fast? Listen to our podcasts with international and domestic fast bowlers, technical coaches and fitness trainers.

#80 - I’m short, a bit overweight and unfit but I can generate a lot of pace. I struggle with rhythm in my run up and load up, nothing feels ‘perfect’. What should I do?

QUESTION

I’m short, a bit overweight and unfit but I can generate a lot of pace. I struggle with rhythm in my run up and load up, nothing feels ‘perfect’. What should I do?


ANSWER

Hey,

 

Skill and fitness isn’t directly ‘linked’. For example, there have been a few bowlers who haven’t been in the best of shape but they could generate pace. The same for batsmen who haven’t been in the best of shape but still score runs for fun. But that doesn’t mean you should rely on your skill and neglect the fact that you have room to improve!

 

I’m not surprised that you struggle with rhythm as being overweight means you will be carrying excess weight whilst you’re bowling. Imagine walking up stairs, it can be tough right? Now imagine walking up those stairs whilst holding a 5kg plate. It will be uncomfortable!

 

What does rhythm mean? How do you describe the feeling of rhythm? Every bowler we’ve spoken to has said that when they are in rhythm, everything just ‘happens’ and bowling seems effortless to them. You will struggle to find that ‘effortless’ feel when you’re carrying excess weight with you. Every single ball.

 

In order to find efficiency in your bowling, you must be physically efficient. Get fit and watch the impact it has on your bowling. You will most likely bowl faster as well!

I hope that helps.

All the best.


Do you want to know how the professionals bowl fast? Listen to our podcasts with international and domestic fast bowlers, technical coaches and fitness trainers.

#77 - I changed my action 6 months ago – I’m bowling faster but after 2 or 3 deliveries I start getting pain in the lower left side of my back. Why?

QUESTION

I changed my action 6 months ago – I’m bowling faster but after 2 or 3 deliveries I start getting pain in the lower left side of my back. Why?


ANSWER

Hey,

This is an interesting question. It’s hard to make a definitive comment without knowing the exact changes you made to your action but it’s great that you’re bowling faster.

The first thing you need to realise is that fast bowling is an unnatural activity; our bodies were not designed to twist, turn and absorb large forces. The changes you made to your action are clearly allowing you to produce more force – but consequently, your body is having to absorb more force as well. The fact that you’re okay for the first few deliveries but experiencing pain after a few deliveries tells me three things:

1. The mechanics of your action may be incorrect

2. Your body isn’t strong, fit and conditioned enough to absorb the high forces your new action is producing 

3. You haven’t ‘built up’ enough tolerance of your new action

If your issue is being caused by number (1), you need to pin point the issue which is causing the pain point in your action – most likely, this is going to be down to some misalignment in your action. Alternatively, (and I know a lot of coaches may disagree with this), you may need to find a way of conditioning your body to endure those forces. As I have mentioned in previous posts, there are many elite bowlers who have found ‘ways’ of staying injury free and finding success with actions that look like a bio-mechanical nightmare!

If your issue is being caused by number (2) and you have had your action analysed by a coach and it turns out that your action is bio-mechanically sound and efficient, then your problem is purely ‘fitness’ related and you need to strengthen your body so that you can manage those forces.

 If you changed your action 6 months ago, chances are you just jumped into bowling off your full run up. Even if you haven’t changed your action, it’s not wise to just start bowling off your full run up after a break or layoff so imagine how ‘careful’ you must be when you change your action to something completely new. You need to build up your bowling loads and intensity. This is how you get your body ‘accustomed’ to managing forces in an intelligent way. As they say, “don’t run before you can walk”. When we spoke to Jock Campbell, Brett Lee’s fitness coach, he mentioned how Brett started bowling slightly wider of the crease to avoid deep foot holes during a test match – the change caused him to get a sore back. The point Jock was trying to make was that, “it’s that easy to get a stress fracture”. So, you must build up your bowling tolerance intelligently if you want to stay injury free.

I hope that helps.

All the best.


Do you want to know how the professionals bowl fast? Listen to our podcasts with international and domestic fast bowlers, technical coaches and fitness trainers.

#75 - What is more important, strength or stamina?

QUESTION

What is more important, strength or stamina?


ANSWER

Hey,

This is a good question.

Many athletes make the mistake of focussing on ‘extremes’ instead of achieving a balance. Brett Lee’s fitness coach told us, “the more strength a muscle has, the more potential for power gains it has”. But what good is strength and power if you don’t have the endurance to maintain it? You need to be an all-round athlete.

 

Fast bowling requires strength, agility, power, speed, mobility and many other attributes – having more of one and less of the other isn’t a positive; it’s a negative.

 

Every athlete is different. Firstly, you need to do a ‘needs’ analysis to figure out what your strengths are and what your weaknesses are. From that analysis, you’ll be able to figure out where your greatest potential for improvement is.

 

Your ‘general strength’ level will depend on many factors such as your age, your height, your weight and body type etc; we’ll try and cover ‘basic strength levels’ in future interviews but for now, the best thing you can do is either ask a qualified physical trainer at your cricket club or gym or do some research online. You can also research some ‘basic’ strength and fitness tests and assess where you’re dominant and where you need improvements.

From those results, you’ll be able to tailor a training programme to try and work on improving those weaknesses WHILST maintaining and improving your strengths. It’s important to remember the most important thing here; BALANCE.

Don’t go all in and try to get strong and neglect other parts of training, for example; focusing on a ton of strength training and neglecting your flexibility and mobility work will just make you stiff and immobile. The game has evolved massively and as cricketers, we need to be strong, powerful and have enough endurance to maintain our peak performance levels – there is NO other way around it. 

I hope that helps. 

All the best


Do you want to know how the professionals bowl fast? Listen to our podcasts with international and domestic fast bowlers, technical coaches and fitness trainers.

#72 - I’m 5’5, can I become a fast bowler?

QUESTION

I’m 5’5, can I become a fast bowler?


ANSWER

Hey, 

There’s a huge misunderstanding that you need to be tall to be a fast bowler. History shows that the fastest bowlers haven’t always been ‘tall’.

Tino Best, Fidel Edwards, Dale Steyn, Malcolm Marshall (RIP) and Chris Jordan are just a few examples of bowlers with pace that are under 6 feet. Although long levers are desirable in fast bowlers, they’re not everything.

The way I look at it, if you have a disadvantage in terms of height, you must work on negating that disadvantage by working on things within your control; your technique, your attitude, mindset and your fitness.

You don’t have the advantage of long levers, so make sure your action is as efficient as possible so you’re squeezing all the potential pace out of your body. Work on your fitness so you’re as fit, strong and fast as possible. Work on the mental side of your game; Tino Best has described this perfectly in his podcast with us – fast bowling is an attitude.

Develop that fast bowling instinct and desire to bowl fast; you’ll be surprised how much of an impact your mindset can have on your game and ability to bowl quick.

I hope that helps.

All the best.


Do you want to know how the professionals bowl fast? Listen to our podcasts with international and domestic fast bowlers, technical coaches and fitness trainers.

#71 - 3 months ago, I bowled during a match and strained my knee. I can walk normally now but should I bowl again?

QUESTION

3 months ago, I bowled during a match and strained my knee. I can walk normally now but should I bowl again?


ANSWER

Hey,

Great question. I wish I could give you a definitive answer but the truth is, I can’t. 

Recovery and rehab is a very unique thing. Some people recover faster than others. Only YOU know how your body feels. It’s great to hear that you’re walking normally again.

My advice would be to slowly introduce more impact through your lower body and see how your body responds. Start jogging lightly, jumping on the spot (skipping) and walk through bowling.

Most of the time, the effect of an injury is mental – to satisfy your mind that you’re “good to go”, you’ll need to build it up slowly. This will allow you to regain confidence in your knee.  

I’d also advise you to implement a more extensive warm up regime, again, just to give your mind the reassurance and confidence that you’re not going to get injured again! 

Take your time, do not rush this process. It’s normal to be frustrated but if you rush it, you’ll do more damage and the recovery process will become even harder!

I hope that helps.

 All the best.


Do you want to know how the professionals bowl fast? Listen to our podcasts with international and domestic fast bowlers, technical coaches and fitness trainers.

#64 - What precautions should I take while bowling and fielding if my shoulder is hurting?

QUESTION

What precautions should I take while bowling and fielding if my shoulder is hurting?


ANSWER

Hey,

It’s common knowledge that all athletes are never 100% fit and always carrying some sort of niggle or issue. Part of being an athlete is being able to manage such small issues. The fact that you’re asking this question tells me that you’re looking for a way to manage and stay on the field – well done. The first thing you need to do is make sure that you don’t have a serious injury. I guess this comes down to knowing your body or consulting with a physio or doctor.

I would say that you need to have an extensive warm up to make sure you are completely warm and ready to go. I would introduce some isometric holds (using a resistance band) to get as much blood into the upper body and shoulder area. And lastly, I would build up my bowling incrementally in the warm-up. Start from static, then a few paces, then jog in a bit more and then finally run in from your full run up – take your time with this, you’re basically in risk management mode so you have to be precise with your movements.

Think of driving on a normal road compared to driving when it’s snowing – you just have to be extra careful.

In terms of the field, I would communicate with my captain and let him or her know that I’m managing a little niggle and would appreciate not having to throw from 70m out on the boundary! Chances are that they’ll understand and place you in a position that doesn’t require excessive use of your shoulder.

I hope that helps my friend.

All the best.


Do you want to know how the professionals bowl fast? Listen to our podcasts with international and domestic fast bowlers, technical coaches and fitness trainers.

#63 - How can I build stamina to bowl more overs?

QUESTION

How can I build stamina to bowl more overs?


ANSWER

Hey,

Bowling specific stamina comes down to bowling! You can build your endurance threshold in the gym and in fitness sessions, but you need to bowl to build your stamina.

Don’t go and bowl 20 overs straight away. Like anything, you must progressively overload your bowling sessions to (1) avoid injury and (2) maintain high quality of your work.

Tino Best gave us some great insight on how he prepares for a Test Match – we will upload that Pace Bite in the near future or you can find it in his podcast on our website.

Here is a generic example of how you can introduce progressive overload your bowling sessions:

Week 1:

3 bowling sessions in the week

Session 1: 1 spell of 4 overs

Session 2: 1 spell of 5 overs

Session 3: 2 spells of 3 overs


Week 2:

2 bowling sessions in the week

Session 1: 2 spells of 4 overs

Session 2: 2 spells of 5 overs


Week 3:

3 bowling sessions in the week

Session 1: 2 spells of 5 overs

Session 2: 3 spells of 4 overs

Session 3: 2 spells of 6 overs


Bowling is also an exercise and the more you tinker with your loads – the more adversely your body will respond and adapt. That is exactly what you want; to be able to handle whatever loads come your way in a match!

I hope that helps.

All the best.


Do you want to know how the professionals bowl fast? Listen to our podcasts with international and domestic fast bowlers, technical coaches and fitness trainers.