Its well know that when you bowl fast you put your body under enormous strain: The front leg can take up to ten times your body weight on impact. It stands to reason that you need to be strong to prevent injury.
That's why you fast bowlers are the keenest to hit the gym. You know a weakness is far more likely to lead to an injury and strength training is the best way to make your body strong enough to cope with bowling long spells on hot days.
But like fast bowlers, not all fitness work is the same.
The training paradox
It's only natural to assume that as the front leg (left leg for right arm bowlers) takes the most impact, you should train that leg more. It needs to be stronger. The problem is your left leg is already stronger than your right. It becomes so just through bowling: A simple case of overload in action. So to try and make your strong side even stronger will increase the imbalance between the left and right legs.
The reason that is a negative thing can be traced back to 1992 and a little known study. Researchers looked at the difference between the left and right side of the body and found a significant statistic: If you have a 15% or greater difference you are more likely to get injured.
That means, paradoxically, you need to train your weaker areas more to make up for the natural imbalances your body undergoes while bowling.
Reverse (or balance) training
What does this type of training look like?
You start with a simple principle: keep the good areas good and bring the weak areas up. This will vary from bowler to bowler but the basic idea stays the same:
- Improve the mobility of both ankles. Here is a video from Bill Hartman that shows you how.
- Improve the strength of the the knee flexing muscles with strength training. Use single limb exercises like single leg squats to bring the right side up to the left side. You can train the weaker side up to three times more than the stronger side.
- Improve the mobility of the hip. Focus on bringing the right side of the hips by training them 2-3 times more than the stronger side.
- Train the upper body with more 'pulling' movements. Use chin ups and rows. This will increase the strength of the muscles in 'reverse' and balance out the strains of bowling.
- Use core stability rather than core strength. Core strength is where your midsection moves against resistance (like a traditional crunch). Core stability is when your midsection stays stable while you move. A great way to do this is with the Pallof Press. If you are weaker on one side, train it more.
It may seem strange to spend more time working on the strength and mobility of your weaker areas, but remember the more balanced your body the less likely you are to get injured.
image credit: kptyson