I hate to break it to you, but elite players are keeping secrets from you.
There is something the professional bowlers and coaches don’t tell you about being a stellar fast bowler.
Despite being in the public domain for all to see, it remains hidden from the minds of fast bowlers at club and school level.
It’s almost like this secret is so simple it can’t be true.
But it is.
And once you know it you are going to wonder why you believed anything else.
The back story
To understand this secret, let’s head to a typical gym.
You will see burly men lifting ridiculous weights (probably with bad technique). There are middle-aged women sitting on exercise bikes reading the latest glossy magazine. Perhaps you spot a stick-like teenage boy risking a few bicep curls and leg presses in the quest for a body beautiful.
There are no fast bowlers in there.
If you are lucky you may see one in the corner doing some press ups, sit ups and 20 minutes on the treadmill.
It seems a long way from taking 5 wickets in the grand final.
But hey, we are told fitness training is good for bowlers, so we go in there and slog it out.
Hope springs eternal that we will get better.
We don’t know how or why, we rely on the ‘highly trained’ fitness instructors (read: guy with abs who did a weekend course 2 years ago and is working in the gym to pay for his designer shirts he wears to get the girls on a Saturday night).
Where are the professionals?
You won’t see a single professional cricketer doing those things in the gym.
Because the professionals have access to strength coaches and strength coaches are paid to get the best physical performance from their charges.
So they research and experiment.
They have worked out what type of training gets the best results because their jobs rely on it.
They know what makes a bowler bowl faster.
They know what stops a bowler getting injured.
The real secret
So what is the secret?
Well, bowling quickly is just a matter of physics. The more force you can generate the more you can put into the ball. That’s why there is a direct relationship between a bowler’s vertical jump and his or her bowling speed (the higher you can jump from a standing start the quicker you can bowl).
But force is not produced by going to the gym and doing 3 sets of 10 on every machine.
Force is produced by being strong.
And that’s the secret.
To be a fast bowler you need to be strong.
And to be strong you need to lift up heavy things regularly.
Come on, I knew that...
It’s strange but when I reveal that secret I’m often met by eye-rolling and people saying “well, I know that!”
Yet it’s the same guys who go back to the gym to do the same 3x10 routine with the same weights they have done for 2 years and are wondering why they are not bowling quicker.
If you are one of those guys, good luck to you. I can’t help you.
But if you are prepared to listen to me (and more importantly, the strength coaches who work with professional and Academy cricketers every day) then you will get better.
Strength is the foundation of everything.
You can’t get strength endurance without being strong; you can’t be powerful without being strong. You can’t bowl quick, professional level quick, without being strong.
OK, I believe you, so what do I need to do?
Just lift up more heavy stuff.
Or to be more exact, you need to be challenging your body to get stronger by:
• Training 3 times a week in a gym.
• Regularly performing ‘big’ strength exercises like squats, deadlifts, bench pressing, rows and chin ups.
• Building up to training at 90% (that’s a weight you can lift for 1-3 reps)
• Progressively increasing the weight you can lift.
• Leaving the 20 reps of bicep curls. Honestly you don’t need them and you look kinda stupid with the weight belt on in the squat rack.
Forget all those silly myths about getting bulky.
The professionals follow a plan like this. They do it because it works. It makes you a faster, fitter, more injury resistant bowler.
And that’s not really dirty or a secret. It just seems that way because most people don’t believe it.
For a complete training programme for fast bowlers get Strength and Conditioning for Cricket at all Levels by Glamorgan CCC Strength Coach Rob Ahmun.
by David Hinchliffe, PitchVision Academy
© 2011 miSport Ltd