In our previous 10 week case study, we looked at overall results for the group, so now I want to drill down further and look at how individual players fared. The first of these players is "A", who wanted to bowl faster while improving his accuracy over a couple of months in the off season.
Let's look at what we did and how we did it.
Background to a fast bowler
A is a rising star: A fast right arm club seamer. He is the quickest in the team and most likely the quickest in the region. He has played semi-professional representive cricket and is 24 years old. He has ambitions beyond this. At the start of the 10 week training we set a benchmark to find out where he stood. His results are impressive for an indoor facility with very short run ups:
Benchmark bowling session (click image to enlarge)
As you can see, his average pace was 73.63mph (about 7mph faster than the next quickest bowler in the club), with a top speed of 77.97mph. His average length was 6.55m (anything between 5-7 is good). His accuracy was 17.6% in the grey dotted target zone and on the line of the stumps.
His goal was to improve his accuracy, hit the stumps more often and push the pace up further if possible. Like all good quickies, he wanted to make the batsmen jump around!
What training improves speed?
We put together a programme based on his goals that consisted of,
- Technical analysis with video.
- Technical drills.
- Power drills.
- Target bowling.
- "Open" bowling with a batsman.
The first stage compared technique to a perfect template based on Ian Pont's 4 Tent Peg positions. We picked out a couple of points that we both thought would aid in both pace and accuracy development.
The next step was to teach him the "tent peg" drills to focus on technical elements. This was to both make a change and to further lock in the strong elements of his action. We did this without a ball and at a very slow speed to learn how each position feels. We spend a couple of early sessions doing this for around an hour, gradually moving from slow speed to walk through and jog through then bringing a ball back in.
At the same time I taught him some power drills to increase the force he could generate into the ball. As he was already a gym-goer, we focused on throwing a 2kg medicine ball because he could replicate bowling more closely. We also did some heavy ball bowling.
As the sessions moved on, we did these drills less, treating them as part of the warm up, but we always returned to both technique and power at every session.
The rest of each session was dedicated to moving between target bowling and bowling at a batsman. This allowed us to see how well the changes were locking in, and what effect they had on his chosen goals (pace and accuracy). In an ideal world, we would have gone back to basics without any bowling for several weeks, then gradually bring it back in, but due to the constraints of needing to allow all the players in the group to practice, we had to move between technical work, target and open bowling training. We managed this by adjusting time on each section as we saw fit.
For a coaches' point of view, what was interesting to me was the comprimises we had to make yet still get quaility training in. As club coaches and players we can't get every detail covered, so we are searching for ways to get as much value from the limited time we have. This is a two way street with the player, where sometimes the coach comprimises and sometimes the player does things for the good of the group rather tham himself. Fortunately in this case, the player was hard working yet selfless and kept the interests on the group in mind alongside his own aims.
So what happened?
Looking at the last half of the training, when we focused more on bowling than technique, we can see some excellent improvements (again click the image to enlarge):
Pace was up to 74.83mph (a small but noticeable increase) and his fastest ball was 82.68mph, a four mile per hour jump.
Even more impressive, his accuracy improved significantly. His target zone accuracy went up to 23.9% hitting the right spot and staying on the line of the stumps.
His average length was slightly fuller at 4.98m. This also included some yorker practice, and without that his length was 5.45m (Sidebar: I was happy to see this as one of his previous weaknesses had been bowling too short, so he improved his length without even actively working on it).
Additionally, he only bowled one ball down the leg side, turning one of his orginal strengths (rarely bowling leg side) into a super-strength.
In short, this was a victory all round.
We reviewed the sessions over coffee and agreed the experiment had been a success. Our next plan is to continue to "warm up" with both tent peg and power drills and spend practice time focusing on getting accuracy even higher while keeping average pace above 75mph.
So now we want to know if you have questions about this process or the results. Whether you are a coach looking to replicate this, or a player wanting to bowl faster, please get in touch and ask away.