The more you practice, the better you get. That idea is well established: but many bowlers with ambitions of bowling fast fail even when they do practice hard.
The problem is you are doing the wrong kind of practice. You turn up to nets and bowl. The coach offers useful advice while the batsmen go about their business at the other end. You finish with a vague sensation of having done well or badly, but you don’t know exactly why.
This practice is certainly better than nothing, but if you want to know how to bowl faster you have to adjust your sessions to match your aim.
Here are some simple ways to do exactly that.
1. Use the warm up to improve your technique
Most bowlers warm up to prevent injury. That’s sensible, but you can also use the warm up to work on the important technical points of your action.
Very fast bowlers tend to have a very large separation of hips and shoulders. If you create this large rotation, it should come from the upper-, or thoracic-spine rather than the lower back. You can help to improve your separation by warming up with t-spine mobility exercises before you even pick up a cricket ball.
Then you can move on to more specific technical warm up drills outside the net.
Ian Pont and Andy Caddick cover drills in their online courses on How to Bowl Faster that include:
- Run Up Speed/Tempo
- Arm Pull
- Knee Drive
- Hip Drive
All these can be done in the warm up and they you can move straight to bowling with the right feel for bowling faster. You will begin to feel the difference very quickly compared to a traditional warm up that just focuses on getting up a sweat.
2. Start slowly
When you do finally get a ball in your hand don’t throw everything into the first ball. Take your time to build things up
Start by walking through your action, focusing on whatever technical point you were working on in the warm up. Bowl a few balls at walking pace but still look to snap through the crease with your action. You are not “slowing down to be more accurate” you are bowling with intensity, just getting the feel for your action by building it up.
When you are ready, move to a jog and a run off a shorter run up. If you are outdoors you can move to a full run up after a few balls at each stage.
Some people will argue this phase of practice is not realistic because you are not bowling properly. Really, it’s time well spent teaching your body the techniques you need to bowl faster. It’s 5-10 minutes well spent, even if the batsman complains.
3. Ignore the batsmen
Speaking of the man at the other end; ignore him.
Ideally you will be bowling without a batsman in the net at all, but very often you have to bowl to someone. In practice - especially practice where you are working on technical points to be a faster bowler - this is a distraction.
So simply pretend he isn’t there. Focus on getting the ball down the other end as rapidly as possible no matter how well or poorly the batsman plays.
Being aware of this is half the battle. If you notice you are distracted by a batsman then use your walk back to your mark to reset. If it gets really bad then take some time out. Have a bat yourself, do some more drills or bowl in an empty net.
Using these three tips will help you build a strong technique, and stay focused on your goal of speed during nets.
Of course, you can improve what you don’t measure, so regularly check your speed with PitchVision to find out what is working to ramp up that extra yard of pace.
Then keep practicing hard and smart in nets to bowl faster in your cricket games.