I wouldn't like to be a bowler.
It looks too much like hard work to me. All that running in, slamming your front foot down with forces ten times your own weight on your knee only to watch a fancy-dan batsman casually smash you through the covers. Then you have to do it all again. Lucky for me there are plenty of people who do like bowling, but in order prevent injury and bowl better you need to be fit. Ian Canaway of Cricketsecrets agrees:
"Aim to try and run 3 times a week to keep your cardiovascular system in top condition and to improve your stamina. South African fast bowler Makhaya Ntini, is well know for running 10Km every morning, even on match days!"
While this is solid advice, we don't quite have the whole story. For example while running is great exercise for all cricket players and especially bowlers, there is more than one sort of running. You have to be, in the words of Vern Gambetta, 'game fit'.
"There is no question that in sports like [cricket] that having a good aerobic capacity will help with recovery between intense bouts of exercise. You raise that aerobic capacity not by distance running but by doing interval [training]. Just because a player runs six or eight miles in the course of the game does not mean that they should run six miles continuously in training. Look at how they accomplish that distance in a game. A great majority of it is walking or slow jogging! However it is during the quick bursts and the explosive actions that the games are won or lost."
In other words your running must be as specific to bowling as possible. This means interval training is the best method for bowlers to improve their cricket endurance.
Interval Training For Bowlers Here is an example of how you can use interval training to boost your performance:
- Warm up.
- Mark out your normal full run up.
- Run the distance at normal run up speed for 6 reps, jumping at the end but not completing your full action.
- Walk back as recovery.
- Rest for 2 minutes and repeat.
- Do this for 8-10 sets of 6 reps.
- Cool down.
This is a great basis for developing bowling specific fitness.
- Increase the number of sets, distance or pace.
- If you are in season or coming up to season you can actually bowl in the nets with a ball. If you do this remember to have lots of spare balls and don't share a net with other bowlers unless you are all doing the same 10x6 pattern. (Side note: Wicketkeepers love to practice with bowlers so if you are really bowling ask your keeper if he wants to come along too.)
- Add fielding drills between sets to accurately simulate bowling an over then doing some fielding
If you want a more comprehensive guide to reducing injury risk and increasing cricket specific fitness, check out county strength coach Rob Ahmun's guide on PitchVision Academy.
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