Sam Lavery, Head of Portsmouth Grammar School Cricket Academy, talks about bowling fast.
Over the past couple of months the fast bowling squad at The Portsmouth Grammar School have been considering how they can improve their speed.
With speed being one of our main areas of focus in the off season, we’ve approached our development from a few different angles.
Fitness development plays a big part, and completing their weekly gym sessions underpins their strength, power and body control.
Regular crossover sessions and exercises are great, these apply power development principles to a more bowling specific environment (eg. med balls and weighted cricket balls).
And then finally, technical development; improving alignment, movement patterns, synchronisation and sequencing. More specifically,
- Fast controlled approach
- Pre turn of the back foot
- Long delivery stride
- Front foot heel strike
- Locked front leg
- Delayed bowling arm (creating a stretch reflex action)
- Shoulder and body angle at release
Given the above list, consider this thoughts and sequence of events:
- The locked front leg is one of the most difficult elements of fast bowling to achieve. However, undoubtedly does have a direct impact on resultant ball speed.
- Locking the front leg is largely a result of a front foot heel strike. Striking with the heel first and toes up, puts your leg in a position where it’s going to be straighter at first impact. Whilst also increasing to likelihood of the posterior chain firing, which can limit any subsequent flexion that does occur.
- Front leg bracing is also the result of a long delivery stride, extending the front leg towards, and some cases beyond a 45 degree impact angle. The closer to vertical the front leg is, the more likely the forces at impact will cause the knee to buckle and bend. Extending the stride closer to 45 degrees at impact, will discourage the knee from flexing.
So the likelihood of achieving a heel strike is increased by a long delivery stride.
While the chance of a long delivery stride is largely a result of run up speed.
While I’m not going to point to run up speed as the silver bullet of speed development and fast bowling - chasing a single solution to all problems is a long road you don’t want to go down - you can see the impact it has in contributing to a number of other well recognised factors of speed generation.
Improving run up speed
So how do we improve our approach speed? Is it a simple as bringing in a sprint coach alone, or reading upon running technique?
Well, in my opinion no.
While a sprint coach will almost certainly be useful, are they going to be equipped to deal with cricket specific skills: running with a ball in hand, holding focus on bowling the ball and moving into pre j-mp transition of arms and legs into the jump and load up? For me it sounds like something of a crossover of roles between the sprint coach and the bowling coach.
In my next article I’ll be discussing the ways we can develop this speed. But arguably more importantly, challenge the approach to retain the all important balance and body control that’s vital as we reach take off.