Cricket at every level has never been faster.
The influence of Twenty20 cricket now demands batsman who score fast, spinners who turn it miles and, most importantly, bowlers who can blast out the opposition.
How do you get your pace to bullet train levels?
There are as many different approaches to pace bowling as there are bowlers and coaches. Some ideas are downright misguided but there are a few that remain essential in generating every last ounce of speed from your spell.
Here are those bedrock elements:
1. The Law of Universality
Anyone is capable of bowling faster.
There is no magic: It's all just a matter of using science to your advantage. The main thing to remember while you work through the Laws is this: Any cricketer can apply them to improve their bowling pace.
You just need to put in the commitment to improve.
2. The Law of Professional Application
The chances that you are a professional cricketer while reading this are slim (although you may hope to be). You don't have access to professional coaching. Maybe you don't have access to any coaching. Your valuable free time is split between cricket and other things. Cricket is not your job, it's what you do for fun.
Those valid reasons for not being as good as a professional don't stop you from applying a professional attitude during the time you have for cricket. This is what The Law of Professional Application is all about:
• Committing what time you have. We all have some free time. You have a choice what you do with it. If you choose to go to the gym or nets you are applying yourself like a pro. If you choose to watch TV because you are tired you are never going to get faster.
• Thinking 24 hours. Getting enough sleep, eating healthy and keeping your stress levels down are often ignored elements of success. If you are too tired or not strong enough you are not going to bowl at your fastest.
• Crossing the white line. Are you working out with direction and intensity? When you hit the nets do you go all out or just turn your arm over? Do you have a goal for every session? There is no reason to have an amateur attitude at these times, even if you are an amateur player.
It's important not to underestimate your mindset when it comes to fast bowling. Really bowling fast starts with your attitude and translates into your body.
3. The Law of the Building from the Ground Up
What separates great fast bowlers from the crowd?
Brett Lee and Michael Holding approach the crease and power through their actions in a smooth, rhythmical way. They are athletes.
But great movement starts long before the run up and action. You have to have build your movement skills up first. Physical therapist Gray Cook demonstrates this by talking about a pyramid of performance:
• Skill. This is the peak of the pyramid: The bowling action itself. If you are lacking the basics of the fast bowling action you need to work with a coach to develop them.
• Athleticism/Power. Sitting below skill on the pyramid is your general power and athleticism. This is your ability to generate force in a non specific way such as how fast you can run or how high you can jump. Without a decent level of strength you will tire more quickly. You will not have as much capacity in your muscles to produce maximum speed either.
• Mobility/Stability. The base of the pyramid is your ability to perform simple movements with both mobility (able to move through the entire range of the movement) and stability (control the body during movement). If you cannot move freely you cannot bowl as fast as your potential allows. You also have a greater injury risk as your other parts of your body try to compensate for the flaws in your action.
4. The Law of Arm Speed
The faster your bowling arm moves the faster the ball comes out. The question is this: How do you get a fast arm?
Your chest is all important.
Ensure your chest is as far in front of your hips as possible in your delivery stride. As Ian Pont says, as if the batsman is pulling you towards them with rope tied around your chest. This works because it generates momentum. Like a sprinter coming out of the blocks; the further forward you can lean the more momentum you are able to produce. This converts directly to more arm speed and then more ball speed.
Find a great fast bowler and you will always see a great chest drive.
5. The Law of Powerful Hips
If the chest gets you in the best position of momentum, it's the hips that produce the power. A recent study found a direct relation between jump height and bowling speed. This is because it's the hips that produce the power in both.
How does this feel as you bowl?
Like you are driving your hip forwards.
Whether you are side on, front on or halfway between; the important element is to have both hips facing the batsman as you deliver the ball.
If you have not driven your hip through it lags behind and you literally leak energy. This slows you down. To borrow a phrase from elsewhere, it's like trying to fire cannon from a canoe.
6. The Law of Long Levers
Here is another simple point of physics: The longer the lever the more acceleration is possible. This is why tall bowlers have a natural advantage as this study proves.
However, the Law still applies to you no matter how long your arms are. Both your bowling and non bowling arms are important levers. This means keeping your arms fully extended as you bowl. Most bowlers do this already with the bowling arm, but it's also vital to use the non bowling arm to drive out and down. This allows you to fully rotate your shoulders and move into the follow through: A giant cartwheel whipping through.
As this study shows, shoulder rotation is directly linked to speed. It's all about using every inch of the levers you have.
Click on to page 2 for the final laws...
by David Hinchliffe, PitchVision Academy
© 2011 miSport Ltd