Gym to Nets: Structure of A Fast Bowling Net Session | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Gym to Nets: Structure of A Fast Bowling Net Session

This is a guest article from fast bowling and strength coach Steffan Jones.

Here is how I set out a bowling session when I am coaching bowlers to get really fast. Unlike most coaches, I have learned to combine skill work with strength work to get the most from your action.

Every session follows the same routine from low intensity warm up drills to high intensity medicine ball throws or weighted ball bowling.

1. Raise heart rate/body temperature

Through low intensity movements we aim to raise core temperature, heart rate and increase blood flow. This can be performed as a slow jog around outfield, shuttle running or grid running. However drills that are dynamic in nature should form the basis of the jog.

2. Activate

This part of the warm up aims to wake up the smaller stabilizing muscles. (This is where the new buzz word prehabilitation would come in). You can see some of these drills in my online coaching videos.

3. Mobilize

The intensions here are to increase range of motion around key joints that are essential to the performance, such as the hips and lower back. If you are short on drills I have a lot of options specifically for bowlers here.

4. Potentiate nervous system

This is where the intensity of the warm-up is increased to replicate your performance. This is the "game ready" section which will consist of movements that are specific to bowling.

They will be done at maximal effort with the aim of increasing muscle fibre recruitment, especially the fast twitch fibers, Type 2a & 2b.

This phase aims to enhance your bowling performance.

The bowling action is split into small parts according to their role in the overall action.

  • Approach: You can use various skips and bounding, prowler pushes, sled runs, chute runs and viper runs. All these are resisted types of running so you should “contrast” with free running.
  • Bound: Plyometric style exercises like box jumps, split jumps and long jumps all work well here.
  • Back foot contact: This is split into training the elastic and static parts of the back foot contact. You use plyometrics like altitude drops combined with isometrics like wall sits.

On a technical note; if the bowler sinks on back foot contact he lacks eccentric strength. If he lands but is unable to push off quickly he/she lacks isometric strength and has too long "coupling time", therefore can’t transfer the stored energy gained during the eccentric portion.

  • Front foot contact: Various resisted drills teach the bowler to drive his back leg towards the target.
  • Point of release: Various medicine ball high intensity drills: overhead, rotational, vertical press and horizontal press. These teach the body to transfer energy into the ball. We also use weighted ball bowling.

I would say that a full arm speed strength program is essential to the success of a winter bowling program. Medicine ball drills and weighted ball bowling cannot be over emphasised.

They form the bridge between ‘gym strength’ and ‘game readiness’. A fast bowling program cannot exist without this phase.

  • Follow through: You can customise standard medicine balls throw to emphasise drive dragging back foot on the ground.

5. Intervention of skill

Here we focus on traditional technical work.

I view the body as split into two part; rudder and engine.

Each session focuses on one aspect of the skill. The key is repetition of thousands of balls over time of a perfect practice.

6. Performance of skill

After technique we move into a live, challenging situation like target bowling or net practice. Most coaches are clear on how this works!

7. Evaluation of performance

After every session we take time to evaluate performance, reflect on things and come up with a plan for the next session. This is a crucial step to improvement of skill, never skip it.

Steffan Jones is a strength coach and fast bowling coaching with over 15 years experience as a first-class cricketer. For his full programme for fast bowlers fitness, click here.

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If your not supposed to collapse the back leg how are you supposed to do the drop step front foot block?

*your not meant to collapse your leg to much, there will be a degree of collapsing but if you fall too much it will be detrimental to speed.

I hear a lot about bowling with a weighted ball but have never actually seen any on sale. Any advice as to where these can be purchased?

If you collapse your back leg you can't exert force off it. If you lack eccentric strength you will collapse but if you are slow pushing off you lack isometric strength. You spend to long during the coupling time (time between eccentric and concentric)

I will be selling them shortly. Waiting for delivery. No program is complete without them.

Excellent, thanks for your reply. Will there be a link on here as to where to purchase?

Steffan, I have heard the discussion regarding the use of weighted balls to increase arm strength/speed, many coaches suggest you need a great deal of care when using that method.
Weighted balls can upset timing and rhythm of action, and should never be used close and or during the season. Do you suggest weighted balls be only used during off season?

That's why the method isn't widely used. Coaches are scared of using them because they lack the s& c knowledge to implement it. That's not a criticism because coaches are mainly there to I,prove technical aspects. I see myself differently in that I'm a performance coach focusing on tech & phys work. I'm qualified to do both. Weighted ball training is a must in a yearly plan. It should be used in a phase prior to the last one of the winter. You never affect the timing because in a proper arm speed session, like my SPEED DEMON one there is a mix of ball used including a normal ball which is always the last ball bowled. The amount you bowl in nets with a normal ball far outweighs the amount of reps with weighted ball in a S&C arm speed session. I can tell you now, as a coach, as a player who still uses the method and have done for 12yrs it DOES NOT HAVE A NEGATIVE EFFECT ON TIMING!! I've done it, doing it and prescribed it to bowlers (amateur & pro)

Baseball use it so why doesn't cricket. You use a carefully planned program I promise you will put on 5+mph. It happened to me (I put on 10mph from 1999 to 2001. Fact!) it's happened to everyone who uses it for the first time.

What I will say is it loses its effectiveness after you have done it for 5+ yrs because you cannot increase the ball weight to a massive amount ( so how do you get stronger?) however apart from myself and Ben Philips in Notts Ccc who I advise to use no other bowler has reached that plateau because they've not been doing it long enough. I now use it as a PRE game CNS warm up.

Hope this answers your question.

I wanted to ask you that how many days in a week I should go to gym and should I do this running and everything which is mentioned above daily?

During season I would say 3 x a week gym session. Whole body training. 1 session strength based. 1 session hypertrophy based and 1 session the day before a game speed/power based. 15-20 sets total per session

Hey sir thanks for your valuable attention.
Sir I would like to tell you that it's off session here. So I'm going to gym 6 times a week.
Actually I'm doing whole body training. So just wanted to ask you that is it okay or no?
And can you please explain me in details about "Hypertrophy session" & "Strength session"?
Sir I'll be thankful to hear back from you...

6 x week whole body training is too much. Ill give you a brief outline of what I prescribe during off season. Phase 1-2

2 weeks-whole body training 3 x week
2 weeks-upper lower split 4 x week
2 weeks split routine 5 x week
1 week restoration [keep up explosive work but really low volume]2 x week whole body

Repeat cycle with different focus.

Phase 1-Hypertrophy [3-5 sets of reps 6-10]
Phase 2-strength [5-8 sets of reps 3-5]
phase 3-power-[6-10 sets of reps 3-5 and complex training]
phase 4-speed [just heavy ball bowling 3 x week]

Hope this helps

Sir if you won't mind then can you just help me with a day plan please?
I wake up 6am and I reach ground at 7 and from their on I 2 to 3 hours to work on my pace bowling.
Then in the afternoon at 1 I go to gym and then in d evening at 6pm I got to swim.
This is my routine.

Please lead me to a better routine which would help me do best.

You cant go wrong with the program on this site. Start with level 1 then work your way up to level 3. Its a bargain as it has a diet sheet asweel

Thanks a ton sir...
I really want to bowl fast because there's a pace bowling coach in my academy, few weeks ago I went to him and said sir I want to increase my pace please tell me how to do?
I felt very bad when he said you can't bowl faster because pace bowlers are born. so from that moment I decided to prove him wrong any how and 1 day I will bowl 140+kmph.

Sir I really want to learn many things from you....
Thanks a ton for helping me...and I'll keep disturbing you with my questions..Smiling

That's such a poor comment. Fast bowlers can be made. Everyone can bowl faster, maybe not everyone can bowl 90mph, depends on your fiber make up, mechanics etc, but I promise you if you work hard you can bowl quickly. I did it myself. Good luck with it

Thank you sir....
Sir do you suggest any bowling course?