Max Andrews talks us through the latest research into fast bowling actions for increased pace and reduced injury.
What is "ground up" bowling, and how can it help you improve your bowling?
Elite athletes and, more specifically, cricket bowlers generate their energy from the ground and then transfer it up the kinetic chain, through the movement of the bowling action. This is where the term "ground up" originates.
One of the largest studies - presented at the 6th World Congress on Biomechanics in Singapore - validated this method as a way of reducing the risk of injury and enhancing bowling speed.
"Significant correlation were observed between ball release speed and all three technique parameters: run-up speed; front leg plant angle; and normalised ball release height. A quicker run-up and a larger plant angle (leg extended further out in front) were both linked to increased release speed."
The conventional wisdom has linked these elements to injuries in bowlers. However, studies have shown that, during front foot landing and ball release, high impulse, created at the ground increased injury prevention. It is these studies that really drive home the benefits of the ground up approach.
Increased run-up speed of elite bowlers illustrates a direct relationship to increased ball speeds. The run-up affects the rest of the bowling action. A faster run-up creates more linear momentum, which assists the bowler in aligning their body when they reach back foot landing.
Larger plant angle of the front leg at contact allows greater ground reaction forces, These are able to assist in the transfer of the linear momentum, from the run-up, into angular momentum of the upper extremities, and improve velocity.
By lowering the bowler’s centre of gravity moving into front foot landing, you can increase your plant angle, and more efficiently transfer energy (and speed) into the ball.
By aligning the force vector in the front leg in a linear direction it will increase the plant angle, but it will also lower the ball release. The lowered ball release is suggested to be a consequence of preceding movements in the bowling action.
By bowlers aligning themselves in a position to transfer their linear momentum into back foot strike, they can then convert the drive forces of the back leg into a stabilised front leg. If they land with a large plant angle at front foot contact it can then be converted into the angular momentum of the upper extremities when extended.