I’m going to share with you one of the major points that is holding back your fast bowling.
Remember in the last article when we showed you bowling is about energy being transferred through the whole body to the arm? Since we’ve discussed the legs, it’s only logical to talk about the next step in the chain: The hips.
Everyone knows that to bowl fast you’ve got to 'drive your hips through'. What does that really mean?
Hip drive explained
For a side-on bowler, the hips should start the motion of moving from side on to front on.
As Ian Pont explains, every bowler releases the ball chest-on to the batsmen. It’s unavoidable. These pictures prove it: , , , 
It’s exactly the same with throwing a ball. You can try it yourself now.
Stand side-on to a target with a ball in your hand. Now, try and hit the target with the ball ensuring that you stay completely side-on. You’ll soon see it’s extremely awkward and very difficult. Now, throw at the target normally, but make sure your freeze as soon as you release the ball. Look down. Are you chest on? I hope so.
If you had filmed yourself throwing at that target and played it back in slow motion, you would have seen one or two things:
- Your shoulder starts the motion of moving from side-on to chest-on and pull the hips through
- Your hip starts off the motion and pulls your shoulder and arm through.
Which one do you think is technically correct? Which do you think is more common in throwers?
In answer to the first question, option two was correct. Even when throwing, energy starts in the legs and should move up the body. If your shoulder starts off the throwing motion, you loose the ability to use the legs, hips trunk and chest to generate power. I’m sure you know the answer to the second question or otherwise we’d all be pitching for the Yankees!
Bowling is practically no different to throwing: When bowling fast, we must utilise the hips by pulling them through from a side-on position to a front-on position if we really want to bowl fast.
This is hip drive.
The hidden secret of hip drive
All that I’ve described above is well known throughout the cricketing community. What I’m about to tell you isn’t.
What you haven’t been told is that the correct positioning of your feet and the bending of your back leg is critical to getting the hips through. Let’s demonstrate.
- Stand up facing your computer screen. If you’re right handed, keep your back foot pointing towards the screen, and point your left foot in the direction you’d bowl to from this position (i.e. to your left).
- Now, keeping your feet planted on the ground, try and rotate your hips round so that they’re facing the direction you’d bowl.
What you’ll find is that this is very uncomfortable and difficult to perform. The reason is due to the hip socket: it’s simply not designed to allow movement like this. So, if your bowling set-up is not unlike this, they’ll be no way that you can properly drive your hips through.
The cure is delightfully simple.
- Assume the same position, except this time bend your back leg at the knee and be on the ball of your foot.
- Now, bend your back leg even more and rotate your hips through immediately after. Don’t fight the urge to roll your back foot over your toes. Voila, much easier!
This simple exercise demonstrates how we must use the hips when we bowl: The back foot lands, the knee bends and then the hips are rotated through. As a result, the hips pull the back foot over the top of the toes, which is known as ‘flopping’.
The knee leads the movement, but the hips finish it off. With practise, you’ll be able to drive your hips through so that they’re almost facing the batsmen before the front foot lands. When the front foot does land, if it’s braced, the hips will be explosively accelerated through, pulling the rest of your torso with it.
Real world examples
I’m sure there’ll be some of you saying ‘That’s all well and good, but do real quick bowlers do this?’
In answer, take a moment to watch one of my favourite videos on youtube.
You may also notice that some of the slower bowlers don’t brace their front legs fantastically well. Jeff Thomson, on the other hand, plants his front leg brilliantly, stays on the ball of his back foot and bends his knee more than anyone else. Is it surprising that he wins the competition and is recognised as the fastest bowler of all time?
For information on learning how to drive the hips or for answers to all your bowling questions please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image credit: RNLJ&C