Bowling Tips for Maintaining Consistency
Condoning drinking in an article that is aimed at increasing the performance of young and impressionable cricketers?
Well, it sounds like it, and indeed the connotations are there, however, this is intended as a visual representation to assist with performance, so don’t panic parents!
The sight of a row of bar pumps takes me right back to my very early days with my first cricket club and in particular the post-match visit to the village pub with my dad. The old wooden bar with the tall pumps and the beautifully illustrated ale labels fascinated me as a nine year old. My association with these strange handles that the cricketers gathered around discussing the days play were intrinsically linked to cricket, as it was always the way that the pub followed the cricket.
What can these pump handles possibly have to do with coaching cricket? It is a visualisation technique that I use with selected age groups to give the bowlers an idea of the front arm action. In the England v Australia 2nd Ladies Ashes ODI at Leicester on 4th July 2019, Dominic Cork identified a slight issue with Elise Perry’s front arm in delivery and I immediately thought of the bar pump! Cork noticed that Perry’s front arm was not pulling straight down the line of off stump and as a result, she was slightly falling away in her delivery. Therefore, there was enough loss of control of the ball to lose pace and any swing with the ever so slightly poor position at the point of delivery.
As we discussed in an earlier coaching article (still available on www.aleadingedge.co.uk) bowling is about straight lines, and getting the movement of all of the body parts, as near as possible, moving up and down a straight line towards the intended target. As soon as one part of the action deviates from this straight line, other parts of the action need to compensate, and quickly there is a loss of control of the ball, making consistency almost impossible.
To give yourself a good chance as a bowler, if you can get the front arm working correctly, as with the head in batting, everything else pretty much follows suit and works down the same line. With young bowlers, I am very interested in what they do with their front arm, and how much they pull back past the hip, which is where the beer pump imagery comes in.
I ask the bowler to imagine that the off stump is the pump handle, and as the front arm bursts out from under the nose towards the target, imagine grabbing this handle and pulling back on it hard, bringing the elbow back past the hip, straight down the line as if the bowler is pulling a pint. The effect of the front arm working efficiently, and with effort, has a positive effect on the speed and direction at which the bowling arm comes over the top. The bowlers head is also very important here, working down the same line of the stumps, but with a good front arm action, the head position will be assisted. If the bowling arm is high and the fingers are strong behind the ball, the seam will stay upright which in turn will give the ball the best chance of swinging. When you have mastered this and you have worked out how much the ball is swinging in or out, you will need to adjust where your imaginary bar pump is at the batters end in order to set the ball off on a suitable line that it will end up hitting off stump at the far end.
Although this mental imagery is aimed at seam bowlers, it can also be useful for the spinners who, from time to time forget that a good pull back with the front arm can assist rotation and therefore help to impart more spin on the ball.
PL & WD
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