We have all been to pre-season nets the seamers bowl bouncer after bouncer on flat and fast indoor pitches.
Whilst it is a great way to have fun, it has little if no relevance to the first few games that you are going to out on grass only 3 or so months later.
There is no use in bowling your fastest or most penetrative spell of the year in a session which comes months before the start of the season.
Many do this and then get frustrated in the season when they cannot recapture the feelings of the pre-season period.
With 4 months to go until the start of the season, the best work for bowlers is on their technical processes.
This ensures that when competition time comes round that their actions are repeatable and efficient. That is the underpinning of the delivery of the skills that are required to be successful.
So how do you do that in the limitations of winter nets?
Building technique: Four paced run up
Fast bowlers can bowl off 4 paces to isolate elements to enhance the bowling action during this period.
If a bowler is making some shifts to their action then it is nearly impossible to do this off of a full run and at full intensity. The 4 Pace approach is a perfect fit.
A reduced run up and less momentum into the crease will provide a good foundation to gain control of the body and cement that technical enhancement into place.
With 4 paces you can work on:
- Alignment of the feet, hips and shoulders at ball release
- Height of the bowling hand at bound strike (lower than the shoulders and moving forward)
- Angle of approach, bound and delivery stride
- Height of the bound (linked to point 2)
- Pace of the run up (over 80% of fast bowlers run in TOO Fast)
- Ability of the action to withstand forces on the back leg and front leg in delivery stride
- Grip and release position
- Swing type (away and in)
- Variation deliveries
- And a whole heap more.....
Progressing technique: Full run up
As a coach, I will only let bowlers move to a full run once they have demonstrated an ability to maintain a good action. This is to say consistently hold their movements together over a sustained period of time, even after introducing an element of fatigue into the session.
A technique that can be held over 4 steps under those tests is ready to be tested on a full run up.
Pace bowlers will be amazed at the pace that can be generated off of 4 steps as they find that they deliver more energy towards their target in a controlled and balanced fashion.
Incorporating into Nets
A normal net can easily work with a couple of bowlers operating off of shortened runs.
Just a word of warning: A coach will have to keep his eye on the intensity levels as any fast bowler is a competitive being and will react to a batter taking liberties.
By working in this way, your fast bowlers will be fresh, technically sound and highly skilled in time for your 1st game of the season.