Move your fast bowling forward with reverse training | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Move your fast bowling forward with reverse training

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


Broadcast Your Cricket Matches!

Ever wanted your skills to be shown to the world? PV/MATCH is the revolutionary product for cricket clubs and schools to stream matches, upload HD highlights instantly to Twitter and Facebook and make you a hero!

PV/MATCH let's you score the game, record video of each ball, share it and use the outcomes to take to training and improve you further.

Click here for details.


Please can we have another pace bowling article, we havent had one since the sixth of october. Could you do one on bouncers for junior cricketers?

Thanks for putting in the suggestion, I'm always looking for article ideas. I'll see what I can do and feel free to contact me directly if you have other requests.

i want to improve my boling speed,& left hand boling intructions,

David, why is it important to balance out pulling exercises with pushing exercises. I am a 14 year old fast bowler and I really have no exercises to do for the pulling stuff. But I do heaps and heaps of pushups and many variations of it. I have no bar to use for chin ups but are there any other exercises I can do for pulling?

Also does it increase the chance of injury or slow my pace down by doing to many pushing exercises and balancing them with pulling?

Because the body like to be in balance, and id your front is stronger than your back you are putting yourself at greater risk of injury. In fact, I would say pulling is more important than pushing because those muscles are underused in daily life.

Of course you do need something to pull (or something to pull against). You don't need a chin up bar though. You could go to the park and do pull ups in the children's playground or on a low hanging tree branch. Even climbing a tree is better than nothing. Get creative and it's amazing what you can come up with to lift up in a rowing action or pull your bodyweight against.