How to Bowl Faster in Cricket

#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.

#79 - How can I stay motivated every day?

QUESTION

How can I stay motivated every day?


ANSWER

Hey, 

This is a great question and one that many cricketers don’t know they need to address.

Passion is a blessing, but when it becomes a complete obsession, it can become unhealthy. As aspiring cricketers, all we dream about is success and improvement; that’s a great mentality but you must remember that your mind is like the rest of your body and being switched on at all times isn’t a good idea.

Treat your brain like a muscle; LET IT REST. If you’re constantly thinking about cricket 24/7, you’ll inherently get ‘sick’ of it. It’s important not to confuse obsession with passion. Passion is when you do something and ENJOY it but obsession can produce a negative response.

Scenario 1: A amateur bowler has a bad game. All he thinks about during and after the game is how bad he bowled and how nothing went to the plan. He can’t stop beating himself up about it. When it’s time for his next game, the thoughts of his previous game are still in his head and his confidence is low, he has another bad game because he can’t snap out a negative mindset. In this scenario, the bowler is obsessed and can’t let go. 

Scenario 2: A professional bowler has a bad game. He reviews why things didn’t go to plan after the game and keeps a mental note of what he’s going to do differently next time and then forgets about it. He spends time with his friends and watches a movie and doesn’t think twice about the bad game. When it’s time for his next game, he remembers the mental note of what he needs to focus on, his performance improves and he’s back to winning ways and performing again. In this scenario, the bowler was smart with his analysis and then let go and returned with a positive attitude.

It means that the saying, “there’s a thin line between love and hate” isn’t famous for no reason. If you love something so much, it’s very easy for that love to become hate. Don’t put your career in that state because of your inability to balance your life and your game.

Like we always say; balance is the key. It’s great to concentrate, train and play hard but the second you leave the nets, the gym or the playing field, you need to learn how to switch off and let your mind refresh and recover. When you’re playing the game, be the most passionate player you can possibly be; but when you walk off the pitch, leave the ‘cricketer’ alone.

Explore different hobbies. Read books. Travel. Watch TV. Socialise. Spend time with your family. Anything! Just give your mind a break. Learn the art of switching on and switching off and you’ll find that you’ll be a lot happier and your performances will be consistent. Never forget that cricket is a game and games are meant to be enjoyed. You play your best when you’re having fun.

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.

#78 - I am hitting the deck hard which is resulting in no swing. When I bowl full, I don’t have pace. How can I release the ball with pace and swing?

QUESTION

I am hitting the deck hard which is resulting in no swing. When I bowl full, I don’t have pace. How can I release the ball with pace and swing?


ANSWER

Hey,

This is a great question. Swing is very much an ‘art’. Hitting the deck is usually associated with pitching the ball on a short/back of length. By doing so, you’ll take away the ‘chances’ of swing through the air but you may find movement ‘off the pitch’ – which is called, “seam movement”. Think about Glenn McGrath, he was a master at moving the ball of the pitch. 

If you want to swing the ball through the air, you need to pitch the ball full enough to give it a chance to move. This can feel weird for bowlers as hitting the deck and digging the ball into the pitch ‘feels’ like you’re generating a lot of pace and power whereas pitching the ball up can sometimes feel like you’re just ‘floating’ it up there.

Most of the time, this ‘floating’ feeling is caused by inexperience. You haven’t bowled enough full deliveries to master the timing required to bowl full at full tilt. Timing is critical here and you need to get your body used to producing power on a full length. Chinese whispers in the villages of Pakistan claim that Waqar Younis used to practice bowling beamers. Why? The theory is that if you can bowl a beamer at full pace, then bowling a Yorker should be easy work. You’ll hear this is a lot in Pakistan – that real pace is trained by bowling full, full, full!

Think about it, if you feel powerful when bowling on a back of length, but ‘floaty’ when bowling full. Just imagine what your full length will feel like when you’re used to bowling full tosses at full tilt; your full-length delivery will feel like your back of a length delivery.

Be careful though, such training can negatively effect your timing as well. Waqar was taken out of the attack in the 2003 World Cup for bowling consecutive beamers, use it as a training tool but not so much that it becomes an ingrained ‘habit’. If you’re going to bowl 10 beamers in training, make sure you’re bowling 20 balls on a full length to balance the work.

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.

#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.

#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.

#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.