#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.

#76 - How do you actually use your non-bowling arm more?

QUESTION

How do you actually use your non-bowling arm more?


ANSWER

Hey,

This is a fantastic question.

I’m sure many of you have heard our guests talk about the importance of your non-bowling arm/side which is why you’re asking this question. Your bowling action is made up of two types of movements:

1. Active movements

2. Passive movements

Let’s dig a bit deeper into both.

Active movements are movements that you ‘actively’ initiate. For example, if you want to try and jump higher in the crease, you will ‘actively’ try to jump higher. If you want to pull your left arm down hard, you will ‘actively’ try to pull that arm. If you want to drive out of the crease and follow through down the pitch, you will ‘actively’ drive your right knee up, out and towards the batsman in your follow through. Active movements require you to start or initiate the action you wish to do.

Passive movements are movements which ‘just happen’. They don’t require you to initiate anything. Some parts of your action can be passive and some can be active. For example, you may have heard of a ‘stretch-reflex’? A stretch-reflex is a ‘consequence’ of separating your hip from your shoulder, when your front foot lands, the reflex kicks in to stop your shoulder from dislocating. If you ‘try’ to initiate a stretch-reflex, you’ll fail as it’s your body’s natural defence mechanism and therefore a completely passive action.

Many bowlers will go through their career bowling in a completely passive manner. Remember Tom Barber mentioning that he “completely changed” his action from what it was when he was at Hampshire and how he is “using” his front-side more? Tom’s left arm was a ‘passive’ movement until he started ‘using’ it. Essentially, all Tom did was change his non-bowling arm from a passive movement to an active movement. He didn’t allow it to move freely anymore – he ‘actively’ controlled how it went up, the angle it went up, the timing of it going up and the timing and intensity of how it came back down.

What you do all depends on how strong and balanced your action feels. The idea is to have an action which is as close to ‘natural’ as possible. Tom’s action changes have been fairly new, so he may be ‘actively’ initiating the use of that front-arm for now – but once he’s done it enough times for a number of years – it may just become a ‘passive’ movement for him. Remember Tom talking about having some drills to go back to when his action doesn’t feel right? Well, this is another example of doing ‘active’ technical work to reinforce certain parts of your action. 

I know this can sound confusing but don’t worry. Think of it in simple terms like this; whenever you do technical drill work – you are ‘actively’ initiating the movements in your action. Your objective is to do it enough times so that you can do it without having to think about it. But sometimes, ‘actively’ initiating parts of your action isn’t a bad thing. Remember Tino Best talking about his keys to bowling fast? Tino found a way of hitting his top speed with two active movements; head still, pull hard, head still, pull hard. You need to understand what parts of your action require ‘active’ attention and what parts can be left ‘passive’.

It all comes down to feel and only you can feel what’s comfortable and effective for you. What I will say is that it takes a lot of discipline, experience and understanding of your action to be able to have the control to actively initiate parts of your action when you’re bowling. Cricket is competitive and with the state of the games becoming so fast paced, you need to have a clear mind so the last thing you want is to be thinking too much about your action; make sure you’ve done your homework and done enough technical work in training! If things start to feel off again – just go back and reinforce the drills. That’s how the pro’s do 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.

#74 - Tino Best spoke about the importance of a still head during bowling – how can I keep my head straight?

QUESTION

Tino Best spoke about the importance of a still head during bowling – how can I keep my head straight?


ANSWER

Hey,

 

This is a great question and I’m so glad to hear that you’re trying to implement the advice you hear in the podcasts.

 

There are many bowlers who ‘lean’ to the side with their head and their upper body when they bowl. It’s important to note the difference between a collapse/falling over and ‘misalignment’.

 

It’s not ideal to be leaning to the side with your upper half – but it isn’t the end of the world if you’re doing it either. Think Lockie Ferguson, he leans over to his left side so much that his right hand is above his left foot – in a ‘bio-mechanical’ world, this is a crime!

 

How effective is he? He can still put the ball where he wants at over 150kph. Lockie gets into that position and MAINTAINS it – he doesn’t continuously fall over to that side. You can say that Lockie has a slight misalignment (in terms of bio-mechanics) but he isn’t collapsing or falling over – he maintains that position quite solidly. We recently published a post on Instagram about the importance of ‘mastering’ your action and having a deep understanding of your process; Lockie is exhibiting exactly that! He has bowled enough to be able to negate the misalignment with immaculate control and understanding of his process and bowling action.

 

What I’m trying to say is that it’s easy to get fixated on bio-mechanical perfectionism but not at the expense of ‘performance’. If your action is causing you problems with injury or issues with your ability to execute your skills – then I’d say you need to address it but be very frank and very honest with yourself if making such tweaks is necessary for you at this stage of your career.

Working on misalignment can be done in two ways:

1. Doing drill work. You can’t physically use something to hold your upper body in place whilst your bowling – so the next best thing is to use some physical objects to create a channel for you to go through. You’ll need some tall poles to set up a narrow channel either side of the crease. The aim is to bowling through as normal without hitting the poles - the physical presence of the poles will force you to travel through the channel in a straight line otherwise you’ll end up hitting them. Start by doing walkthrough’s and then build up into a jog and eventually a run from the top of your mark. 

2. If you haven’t got anything to focus on, how can you ensure your alignment is correct? Sometimes, we need visual cues to help us because when you’re bowling at a batsman or in a match, you can’t set up physical objects. So how can you set up a visual cue? You can align your head by looking at the batsman’s helmet and then lowering your eyes to focus on a spot on the pitch where you’re looking to bowl. It doesn’t have to be the batsman’s helmet; it can be anything which is in line with your head. You must focus hard on your target area whilst maintaining your head position – don’t get careless or lazy. When you’re at the top of your mark, switch on. Once the ball is bowled and you’re walking back to your mark, you can switch off to preserve mental energy.

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.

#73 - I change my action a lot and it always feels good. Is this the reason I am losing my rhythm a lot?

QUESTION

I change my action a lot and it always feels good. Is this the reason I am losing my rhythm a lot?


ANSWER

Hey,

This is a very common issue with a lot of bowlers. The reason the change of action feels good at the start is because you’re getting a different response from your body when you bowl; any slight change in your action will influence your timing - this can either be a good thing, or a bad thing. In your case, it sounds like a good thing.

 

Most bowlers are always tweaking parts of their action throughout their career; either their run up, their load up or their position in the crease etc but it’s important to know when to ‘draw a line’ under the changes. Your ultimate goal is to have a deep understanding of your action, how it feels and how to time it perfectly ball after ball. This is how you will achieve confidence and consistency in your bowling.

 

This level of mastery can only be achieved through bowling. The more you bowl, the more experience you’ll gain and the more confident you’ll become. Almost every fast bowler that we’ve spoken to has emphasised on the importance of confidence as a fast bowler. If you keep changing your action, you’ll be robbing yourself of the chance to perfect your bowling style. In regards to rhythm, 100%. If you keep making changes, how can you expect to settle into a rhythm? Remember, rhythm comes down to repetition and feel; you can’t achieve feel if you keep on changing!

 

Unless you have a serious bio-mechanical issue which needs to be addressed, I don’t think there’s any reason to continuously change your action. Small tweaks here and there are fine, but you shouldn’t be making huge changes for no reason. As they say, “if it’s not broken don’t fix it”.

I know, we’ve all been there. One of the hardest and most neglected requirements as an athlete is the ability to be patient. As athletes, we constantly want to change things and evolve overnight – but it’s important to remember that success takes time. Often, we make our jobs harder than they need to be by trying to bowl magic balls, bowl like Brett Lee one day and Allan Donald the next; remember, keep it simple and do the basics. Being patient and consistent will produce the results – you have to trust the process.

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.

#68 - How important is shin lead for fast bowling, how does it contribute to speed?

QUESTION

How important is shin lead for fast bowling, how does it contribute to speed?


ANSWER

Great question.

Shin lead is basically the transition from the point you take off (jump) till the point your back-foot lands in the crease. The benefit of a ‘shin lead’ is that it allows your lower body to stay ahead of your upper body as your back-foot lands in the crease.

Why is this important? 

If you’re looking for maximum speed, you need to utilise and exhaust every part of your body in the delivery action; from the foot, ankle, knee, quad, hip, trunk, chest, shoulder, arm, wrist and fingers etc – this is called a ‘kinetic chain’. The shin lead allows you to begin your bowling action with the correct kinetic sequence – LOWER BODY FIRST. 

If your upper body starts to ‘creep’ ahead of your lower body too soon, you’ll disrupt the kinetic chain and you won’t be able to get maximum output from every part of your body. Ever heard of bowlers talking about a delay? Allowing your muscles to stretch through the correct kinetic chain is the science behind the ‘delay’.

However, there are many bowlers who don’t bowl with perfect sequencing but still reach high speeds. Shin lead is a great thing to work on – but don’t fixate on it till the point that it becomes a hindrance. Before anything else, feeling is the most important element to bowling.

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.

#62 - What is the use of a long run up while bowling – does it impact bowling?

QUESTION

What is the use of a long run up while bowling – does it impact bowling?


ANSWER

Hey,

Each bowler’s run-up can vary in length and speed. It all comes down to how you feel. Shoaib Akhtar bowls fast from a 20+ stride run up and Mark Wood bowls fast from an 8-stride run up. Brett Lee has gone on record and said that he used to have a long run up because he thought all fast bowlers need to run in from the boundary but he eventually shortened it as well.

It all comes down to what is comfortable for you.

The purpose of the run-up is for the bowler to generate optimum ground speed and momentum to take into their delivery stride. Your task is to find out how you can achieve that optimum.

Some bowlers prefer longer run-ups as it allows them to approach the crease with rhythm and relaxation (think Michael Holding). Whereas some bowlers prefer to attack the crease from their first step (think Mark Wood and Rubel Hossain).

Steven Finn’s run-up change was well documented. He had a long run up and then changed shortened it which caused him to lose all his rhythm. So, as you can tell, it’s a very personal thing.

The run-up is not an easy thing to master so be patient with it. You need to find what feels right for you. We ask every one of our guests about their run up – so please look out for our posts and podcasts to hear more about this topic!

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.

#61 - I am a right arm bowler, where should my right hand be when I load up; behind my head or high above my head?

QUESTION

I am a right arm bowler, where should my right hand be when I load up; behind my head or high above my head?


ANSWER

Hey,

This is a great question. Load up's are very personal and unique to each bowler. Throughout your action, you want to achieve fluency (rhythm), coordination and control. If loading up behind your head helps you do that; then that’s the best load up for you.

There is no universal load up – every bowler has their own unique way.

2 of our guests have a very different style of loading up. Tino Best, had a very aggressive and high load up, he worked on this and made it more efficient by lowering it slightly. Tom Barber, used to load up around his chin but now takes his hand directly above his head but if you look at the way both load up – they’re completely different. Tino is very aggressive whereas Tom is very smooth. Both of them however, are able to achieve high speeds.

Please check out our podcast with Tino Best and also look out for our daily posts as Tom will be explaining his load up in detail! Tom told us that he was inspired by Brett Lee to try the long, high load up and it worked for him. So my advice to you would be to experiment with the load up and see what works for you. Remember, it’s all about feeling.

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.