A powerful throw sends a message to a batting team.
The batsmen are looking for a second run and you are in the deep. The both look up to see your throw, as do most of the batsmen waiting to come in. There is a subtle moment of expectation: Just how good is this guy’s throw?
You sear it in head high, dipping into the keeper’s gloves so he doesn’t have to move.
The batsmen make a mental note to keep it to one with you while the keeper and skipper applaud your arm.
How to you get your throw so strong and accurate?
It’s possible with hard work.
1. Strengthen the right muscles
Throwing requires a lot of strength because the more strength you have the more power you can put into the ball.
But you can’t just throw to get stronger at throwing.
If you did that you would find the speed of your arm improving without a corresponding increase in strength: you hit the ceiling of improvement quickly.
So you need to strengthen the muscles that are most involved in throwing which will develop into a better throw. Sports scientists call it “delayed transmutation”.
I call it common sense.
Train in the following ways:
The lower body is also important to be strong to create a stable base. So train both double and single leg squats and deadlift variations.
Yes, even in summer.
2. Throw medicine balls
In-between throwing a cricket ball and lifting a heavy weight is throwing a medicine ball against a wall.
The old-school ball is back because it trains both strength and speed elements of power in two ways:
- Similar movement and stabilisation patterns to throwing
- Opposite movement patterns to throwing (to prevent injury)
You are not looking to replicate the throwing action itself here. That just leads to your technique getting worse as you heft a ball weighing 2-3kg.
Instead use specific medicine ball throws like the ones in this video. Make it more power-based by resting between throws.
In season you can safely throw a couple of times a week before you do your strength training. Off season you can up that to 3 times a week; 3-4 sets of 8 reps where you try and break the ball every throw.
Stretching to both lengthen muscles and mobilise joints is good for throwing power because it increases your range of motion and therefore speed of release.
The plan is simple: Do mobility drills and foam rolling in your gym and match day warm up. You can do static stretches anytime although it’s best to avoid doing more than one or two before training or games.
If you can, get a massage once a month to help even more with keeping the deep tissue healthy, strong and powerful.
In particular focus on mobilising your thoracic spine and shoulder. Focus on stretching your shoulder capsule (using the sleeper stretch) and pec minor.
4. Throw cricket balls
Finally after all that prep-work it’s important to remember to actually throw balls.
A good training session includes 1-2 throws a week. Do it in the following steps:
- Pair up and throw a ball gently over about 20m; working on establishing good technique. The key is a locked front leg and a powerful drive of the hips, but at this stage loop the ball rather than drive it in
- Move apart from your partner slowly, throwing balls but still thinking about putting arc on the ball with a relaxed arm action. After a few throws at each distance you should be around 40m apart.
- Keep moving back gradually to as far as you can throw the ball with arc and smooth power. This is age and strength dependant. Good throwers can get up to 90m (with a crow hop) but the aim is to find where your point is and gradually increase the distance.
- Finally, move back gradually towards your partner, throwing the ball every 15m or so. You are now trying to throw the ball as flat and hard as possible (as opposed to loopy and smooth on the way back). The last throw is around 20m from the catcher (and a bit scary for him with all the power).
Finish with your normal fielding drills and you are done.
Each week you will notice gradual increases in power from your starting point.
And before you know it, that bullet throw will be causing run outs in your games.