Seam bowling all-rounder Kelvin has been back in touch with me.
You may remember he asked me some coaching questions a little while back. He now has a run up problem which I hope to solve for him.
Part of a good run up is being fit enough to perform it properly. In Kelvin's case, his hard work is starting to pay off in real cricket performance:
"I have been doing a lot of fitness training and my pace has improved considerably. I'm also a lot fresher and running in harder."
He outlines how he has taken my advice on:
"I've been doing shuttle sprints, sometimes with pads, sometimes just in my bowling gear. I have also gone for short power sprints where I run hard for 10 metres and jog back to my mark and then run hard again. I have been doing this alongside some long running andlight weights. I have been doing them quickly to try and get more explosive power but I make sure that the weights aren't too heavy. Also, I have done some leg work such as squats and going on the leg machines."
Which all sounds like a great plan for a younger player.
I would encourage players in Kelvin's position to get even more cricket specific. Cut out the long runs, replacing them with interval training, including this bowler specific fitness plan.
For building up strength, try these bowler specific drills. Look here for upper body power drills to help with you batting and bowling. So now to Kelvin's run up issue:
My length has now pulled back and I'm bowling shorter than before. My run up is also now faster so I'm overstepping.
While I must admit that bowling is not my area of expertise, there are some tips I can pass on:
- Don't panic. When you are bowling well you everything works without thinking about it. As soon as you start to tinker with actions and run ups you get out of what sports psychologists call "the zone" and get worse. In short, you are thinking about it too much. So don't panic, relax and it will come.
- Find your perfect run-up. Have a look at this guide to getting your run up right. Once you have done this, forget about tinkering and stick with that run. It might take a little while to settle in, but if it feels natural then it will come good. (Sidebar: if you are a younger player and still growing or getting faster and stronger you stride will get longer and faster. This means you may need to redo your run up every 6 months or so to avoid no balls).
- Practice. When you have your run up, practice bowling at a target. Here is a suggested drill on the cricket secrets forum that works well to get you bowling at a target. Bowl as much as you can in as many different conditions as you can. (Sidebar 2: Make the practice as real as possible for example bowl 6 balls in a row then rest.)
- Focus on the 'feel'.This is an imagery technique that reduces the risk of you losing your line and run up. While you are practicing or playing you will bowl a lot of deliveries that are good. When you do this take a moment to close you eyes and really remember in your mind how it feels to do this. This doesn't mean each tiny technical detail, but more like an overall awareness of your body and mind as you do something right. Studies have shown that the more vivid your memory the better your performance becomes. Think of it as a mental "blueprint" to work from
While fast bowling coaches may be able to give you more technical details and specific tips, all of these methods will help you relax into your game with confidence.
And when you are doing that your run up and length will be a lot better. Maybe even perfect?