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