How to Have a Bullet Throw | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

How to Have a Bullet Throw

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:

  1. Similar movement and stabilisation patterns to throwing
  2. 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.

3. Stretch

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:

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. 

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Hi David,

Great article here! You have covered everything! I really like the fact you spoke about mobility. With good t-spine and hip mobility the thrower can induce a greater stretch reflex by disassociating the the hips and shoulders.

I have put together a series of medicine ball throwing which I thought may be of value to you and the readers here!

Rotational Power Development - Medicine Ball Throwing

That's a great video Mike. What weight and make of ball do you use?

The orange one is 2kg and the yellow one is 4kg. They are from Iron Edge here in Australia. The orange one broke from hitting the corner of the wall a few times which cut it. I think they may be fine if you had a flat wall to throw against. You could go heavier with the recoiled overhead slams and for younger kids I would recommend a 1kg ball for for the rotational throws. Getting the kids to use their legs and body to throw the ball is really important with the rotational throws. It is also important to keep your elbow up and behind the ball so you throw down and over your front. This takes stress off the shoulder while working on improving rotational power from the ground up.

Something I did not cover in the video is that we should work both sides of the body even if we bowl , bat and throw from the one side I feel its important to work from the other side. We should never expect or try to be perfectly symmetrical but its important to be able to transfer force up the body from both sides and be able to produce power in all directions.

Well, as a biomechanist and a soft tissue specialist, I would disagree and say that we should expect and try to be perfectly symmetrical... ...alas, I know it is not possible Laughing out loud

Great video Mike and really good for rugby too Eye-wink

Yes, if anything we should work the weaker side more to get as much balance as possible. Left and right, front and back!

By the way - here is a brilliant video explaining why med balls are so good.

Thanks David

Which muscles are involved in pace bowling?

All of them

do you have any videos links I can look at, like the clip you showed on Absolute Strength to Absolute Speed?
do you know any information on seminars on strength/power training within the England?



Great article here! You have covered everything! I really like the fact you spoke about mobility. With good t-spine and hip mobility the thrower can induce a greater stretch reflex by disassociating the the hips and shoulders.

please send me fielding drills on my Hotmail id. if possible

I do have written an article on Strength and Conditioning for Cricket Players with videos of exercises for anyone interested.

Good article. Although as a coach I am finding that many players lack the correct technique for throwing. Is there anything related to the technique of throwing?

The best references for throwing mechanics, by a long, long way, are baseball coaching manuals. Google basic pitching mechanics.

Any baseball coach would wince watching the majority of cricketers attempt to throw a ball; even a large number of international cricketers have horribly poor throwing techniques with all arm and no body.

I would add that the "crow hop" before throwing is a necessity for any thrower to throw their best. The "crow hop" is a short sideways skip towards the target after picking up the ball. It allows you to gather and balance yourself before throwing and gives momentum to your throw. Without going through this process it's like bowling without a run up. Being physically strong won't necessarily make you a good throw. It helps, but the real difference is good technique.

Hi ,

I started throwing about a week ago and can throw at 45-55 meters .My target is at 90 meters.How much time do you think it would take to reach there ?? Also I can benchpress upto 20 kg in the gym.
Also how many throws should I do in one session ?? I usually like to do about 75.