Can bowling with a heavy ball make you a faster bowler? | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Can bowling with a heavy ball make you a faster bowler?

Creative Commons License photo credit: Tc7

Bowling faster is the holy grail for many seamers. One method that has been borrowed from field athletics is using a heavier ball to bowl with.

Does it work?

The theory behind heavy ball bowling is simple: Using a heavier ball should overload the muscles you use to bowl with. When returning to a normal ball you will be stronger and therefore able to bowl with more pace.

While there is little research into this method for cricket specifically, there has been success in field sports like the shot put. Here the method combines a slightly heavier shot put with a slightly lighter one and a normal weight one.

The method Frank Dick recommends is to bowl 5 heavy balls, 2 light balls and 1 normal ball.

It's not that far a leap to think that using various weight hockey balls could give the same advantage to a fast bowler.

Limitations of heavy ball bowling

  • Heavy ball bowling over a long period could cause a large imbalance between left and right sides. This, according to Gray Cook, is a route to higher injury risk.
  • Using too heavy a ball can cause you to try an compensate in your action and 'heave' the ball. When you go back to a normal ball this compensation may remain.

The solution to these issues is simple: Use heavy ball bowling sparingly (early pre-season training would be a great place to try it. In the UK that's late February or Early March) and find balls that are around 10% different in weight.

If you do try it, it should be part of a planned exercise routine that includes strength, power and speed training at least twice a week. This will help you maintain a strong, healthy body.

Have you tried heavy ball bowling? What have the results been?

© Copyright miSport Holdings Ltd 2008

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This article; suggests +/-20% in weight.
I've been meaning to have a go at doing this with respect to throwing but haven't had a chance.

Great link Arif. The issue is finding balls of the right weights.

I think using a kids cricket ball is around a 10 to 20% reduction in weight and I guess a heavier ball would be some sort of hockey ball - unless of course you can inject some Mercury or Lead into the core of a standard cricket ball Eye-wink

There is a significant difference between bowling and either throwing or shot putting. The latter two release the ball at the end of an explosive extension whereas quick bowling is to do with speed of rotation, hence ball release speed and timing of release.

You only have to try to bowl with any pace using a tennis ball to see what I mean. I would suggest that a heavy ball will have you adjusting your point and angle of delivery to compensate for the weight and so throw you off when returning to a normal ball.

Colin, I agree too heavy or too light (ie. a tennis ball) a ball will be counter productive. I have never tried a ball that is 10-20% heavier/lighter though. Do you still think there will be compensations in that instance?

Using a heavy ball could be counter productive for the same reasons as using ankle weight. Train for strength and speed as part of general stimulus and don't be silly enough to make this sport specific by using a heavy ball. Some bowl faster because of strength/power and better neuro muscular coordination thats why some are faster than others. Maybe when U15 kids use a 5 1/2 ounce cricket ball to play, it slows their coordination down?

I agree, but research in other sport has shown objects that are 10-20% lighter/heavier can make a difference. I refer you to Frank Dick's 'Sports Training Principles' for more information.

However, I have never tried this with cricketers. It would make an interesting experiment.

What research? can you post a link it will be interesting. Frank Dick maybe right on a few things but I doubt the validity of training with a heavier bat or ball.

uhh didn't I post a link at the start of the comments which contains the article 'Effects of Under- and Overweighted Implement
Training on Pitching Velocity' from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, vol. 8(4), pp. 24 7-250, 1994

I don't remember seeing it Arif. It might have been caught in the spam filter. Please repost it though.

Was it this one:

That appears to have had no significant effect on speed (ie. the weighted ball group had a statistically insignificant increase in speed).