Cricket Show 37: Fast bowling length and different batting grips | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Cricket Show 37: Fast bowling length and different batting grips

miCricketCoach - PitchVision miCricketCoach Show 037.mp3
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Ian Pont makes his return this week, answering a question on fast bowling length. David has rain stopping play and Kevin hits the gym. We also answer your questions on:

As discussed in the show, you can find out more about fast bowling in the guide to fast bowling here and Ian Pont's 'How to bowl faster'.

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Just following up on the comments you made in regards to strength training.

I have read that the ideal rep range for strength is between 1-6 reps, or to put it plainly, no more than 6 reps a set. This would involve using relatively heavier weight than if you were building muscle, where the rep range is between 8-12 reps.

Would the 6 rep range and heavier weight also be suitable for a fast bowler's strength training program? This is the rule I use in my strength training program, which I supplement with plyometrics to cover the speed aspect.

Great question, I'll answer it in the next show.

I would like to know more about the complete guide of cricket fielding drills and guide to cricket fitness.

What would you like to know?

I think my above question was more a "tip of the iceberg" type of question. I'm pretty sure by what I have read that strength training is best achieved in the 6 rep range.

Now to get to the real issue. A pace bowler's action is essentially a power movement, and this power movement is responsible for the speed of the ball i.e how fast is the bowler bowling. Now power, to put it crudely, by what I understand is a combination of strength and speed.

So lets put this in a fast bowling context. Hypothetically, the stronger a fast bowler is i.e the more weight he can lift on the main exercises like squats, deadlifts, rows, bench press, etc and the more speed he can generate in terms of body movements (through training such as plyometrics and pure power movements like Olympic lifts e.g clean and jerk, push press, etc), the faster this bowler should be.

I’m thinking of this more in terms of an equation. If power = strength x speed, and a fast bowlers action is a power movement, increasing both strength and speed should lead to faster bowling.

Would this be correct?

We discuss it on show 40 so have a listen when it comes out.

I just had a listen to show 40.

First and foremost, thanks for answering my question David, I really do appreciate it.

I have to say I am quite satisfied with the answer you gave me. The one thing that you forget as a pace bowler is technique. And I find this odd. You have batsmen spending hours and hours on fine tuning their cover drive or their pull shot, etc, but you don't really get to see fast bowlers working on their own bowling technique i.e arm pull, chest drive, etc. And I think Ian Pont's book is the first book I have come across that goes into fast bowling technique into detail.

So let’s complete the equation.

Fast bowling speed = (strength x speed) x technique

Lets just say that a fast bowler has a sound bowling technique, that is, his muscles are firing in the right sequence. So once the technique is taken care of, then, the only means as to increase your pace would be through the strength x speed component.

So hypothetically, once you have a sound bowling technique, your bowling speed is directly related to your strength and speed levels. In a practical sense, once a bowler has a sound bowling technique, his only means to reach speeds of 90-95 miles per hour will be through strength and speed, or in more useful terms, through strength and speed training.

Would you agree with this David?

Yes and no. Again your formula seems to be right, but I think it's more complex that it seems.

By saying "once the technique is taken care of" we assume that we can reach the upper limit of technical improvement rapidly. I would not say that is the case. Technique is much more difficult to improve than strength or speed because you can measure how strong or fast you are. You can't measure how good your technique is. That makes it a difficult thing to put into an equation.

So technique really clouds the issue.

Interesting thoughts. I think it is possible attain a sound technique. Ian Pont in his book gave the example of Alan Donald, who he said was the most technically sound bowler he ever saw. I think he said something along the lines that you could not improve Alan Donald technically any further. So you can say in this example that Alan Donald had reached the "upper levels" of his technique.

So if someone like Alan Donald has reached the upper limits in terms of his bowling technique, and taking into account the equation, the only way he could become faster would be through strength and speed i.e. strength and speed training.

From a strictly theoretical point of view, would you agree with this?

I do, but we are getting onto ground that is becoming impractical from a coaching angle. Taking the Donald example: Ian Pont is an excellent coach (much better than me) and I have no reason to doubt his opinion. However how can we prove Donald's action is near perfect? How much more 'perfect' is it than Flintoff, Steyn or Johnson?

My point is that technique is a subjective measure only. As soon as you enter it into an equation the calculation loses validity.

That's why, for me, strength and speed training is such a good thing for bowlers. You can measure improvements more simply than technique. So yes, the more force you can generate the faster you are that is right, but it's becoming too theoretical to be practical in my opinion.

Well I am glad that we've at least ironed out the theory aspect. See my view is that if there is a theory to it, there is a chance it can be put into practice. And if you think about it, that is pretty significant. If you can put it in a theory and a framework to follow, it means it can be done by others. So for the average Joe, like myself and others, this is pretty huge.

As far as the perfection of Alan Donald's action, we only have Ian Pont's word on that. Unless another speed coach comes out and puts forward another theory that's all we have at the moment. Ian Pont has also worked with Dale Steyn if I recall.

However, we cannot doubt that Alan Donald was one seriously express bowler, so that lends some credence to the claim. So if our theory is correct, how much faster could Alan Donald have been if he put in a few more extra session on strength and speed training, furthermore assuming that his action was "perfect"? Thinking about it, this is quite exciting and encouraging from a fast bowling perspective. Now I have read Alan Donald's biography and from recollection his fitness training regime consisted of interval training (shuttle runs) and his weight training was focused on performing exercises with high repetitions. So what if Alan Donald chucked in some plyometrics, Olympic lifts and low rep training into his regime, how much faster could he have become? It quite exciting to realise that if what we hypothesise is right, the fearsome Alan Donald could have been much fiercer, which if you are a batsman, is a scary thought.

A more recent example of this would be Atul Sharma. There is a training video out there of him. The guy was working pretty hard, he was performing a lot of speed work and Olympic type lifts and he looks strong. Reports are he is bowling in the high 90 mph. And this guy has basically come out of nowhere.

Now I am well aware of the limitations of theory, and theory and practice can be quite different. So ultimately, you need to put the theory to a test. Thinking about it, this has the making of a future case study on Pitchvision. Smiling

I agree it is an area that needs proper investigation Aleksandar. I also agree that we are just starting to work out the potential of bowlers speed limits as we begin to lose the dogma (slowly).

My worry is that it's impossible to study properly. How do you attribute speed gains to, say, strength gains if a player is also grooving his technique at the same time?

I also think there is a diminishing return on strength/speed training. Once you get beyond a certain point I'm not sure it makes a difference as the transfer to sport skill gets progressively less the stronger you get. Would a bowler who can front squat 2x bodyweight be faster than one who can squat 1,25x? I would be doubtful, whereas I'm much more confident the 1.25x bowler would be faster than the 0.75x one.

All that said, I do have a little idea I'm working on to see if we can test out some of these theories. Keep reading and if it pans out I will be posting it on the site.

Excellent discussion!

Good point. I forgot about diminishing returns to training, but it could well play a role. However, I think that because you are combining speed and strength training, you could probably delay diminishing returns to a greater extent that say if you relied on only speed or strength separately. So gains in say strength can give you an edge in speed and vice versa, and like a loop these two feed of each other to increase your power output. So that is the only thing I can see working for a combined speed/strength approach in terms of delaying diminishing returns, but i could be wrong.

But our discussion has really given me plenty of encouragement and I will be diving into my training full steam ahead. So I will be putting the equation into practice. I have focused thus far in the off/pre season on the strength/speed component, and will be diving into the technique component over the next few months.

And if the equation works, we will put a patent on it and get filthy rich. Smiling

Thanks for the advice.


Good discussion but David I doubt you will find anyone who can FRONT squat twice his body weight !!

I think the hypothesis that some one who squats ( I am talking of back squat) twice body weight will not have a transfer to sport is not true. Kelly Bagget is good example of some one who can back squat twice his body weight and has a great vertical jump. Having said that, yes, if the bowler is going to spend most of his time trying to increase his squat load, he is going to leave out cricket skills for want of time and energy. Bowling faster is a combination of strength and coordination and obviously good technique. I think Pont has done some good work in the video with Atul Sharma but the boy has to bowl in matches and get wickets to prove himself.

Who hypothesised that?

Although you are right, I doubt I could find many cricketers who can front squat 1.25x BW, let alone anything higher.