To Throw or Not to Throw? That Is the Question | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

To Throw or Not to Throw? That Is the Question

Making a quick decision to throw can be the difference between a run out and a stolen single.

But it's never quite that simple is it?

Even if you are a dead-eye when throwing at the stumps, it's possible to give away overthrows and face the wrath of your "double teapot" captain and bowler.

That's a lot of decision-making to do in a short time and indecision usually just makes matters worse. You need to be confident. Confidence improves throwing accuracy and reaction time.

Cost-benefit analysis of throwing at the stumps

As far as I know no-one has ever sat down, gone through games with run out attempts and overthrows and worked out whether the runs conceded from overthrows are balanced out by the increased chance of a run out.

I suspect, at the professional level at least, this analysis would show a simple general rule: when in doubt, throw.

My suspicion is that professionals tend to be more aware that a throw is possible and get in a position to back up more quickly and efficiently. Knowing there is definitely someone to protect your shy can give you the confidence to throw.

However, even if it does go wrong I would imagine that the odd overthrow could be easily made up for by running out a star batsman who could go on the make a hundred.

To work it out you would need to get your team's scorer to record overthrows as well as actual run outs. Then you can work out how many overthrows per run out you concede.

You can make it more complex by also working out the value of the run out, but that maths is far beyond my limited statistical skills.

I'm willing to bet either way, that the throw comes out the winner.

Returns to the keeper

Run out chances are one thing, but there has been a recent trend for players to throw back to the keeper, even if the batsmen are not attempting a run. The theory goes that this shows the batsman he or she is under pressure from the fielding team.

I don't believe that's right.

Even if the batsman does feel this way, they soon become immune to its effects as it happens after almost every ball. Also, at club level at least, the chance of a poorly aimed throw is increased when the benefit of getting a run out is non-existent.

There is some benefit in doing it as a fielder to find your range with throws early in the match. It also keeps the wicketkeeper's gloves warm. I still don't think that is enough to make the ball come back to the keeper every time. On balance I prefer teams not to do it.


Whatever your policy on throws (and every team should have one), it's vital to practice all the different throws. It should be the rare practice session or warm up that doesn't include some or all of the following:

  • Underarm at the stumps
  • Overarm returns to the keeper (including low returns when throwing with the sun behind you)
  • Overarm at the stumps

There are a number of drills to do this as part of Derek Randall's fielding drills course on PitchVision Academy.

It's also important to watch how much you throw. For club players playing a couple of times a week this is not usually a problem, but if you play a lot of cricket you will need to be careful how much you throw in practice, keeping it limited but still working on something.

All players ideally would include some warm up drills to help prevent throwing injuries. This just means warming up the shoulder muscles with 'activation' work like:

These movements don't require equipment or more than a few minutes of your warm up. They an be done every day if needed and will help protect you from injury.

The take home point

Injury prevention aside, my feeling is that most teams would benefit from the confidence of fielders who are happy to throw the ball. However not many teams should adopt the modern practice of throwing to the keeper every time.

What are your thoughts?


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In my opinion you should throw the ball to the keeper or to the bowler as it shows the batsmen , that the field is active and ready to pounce if you try to sneek a single.

But while i say that i dont mean that you have to do it every single ball , staraight away as you field the ball..

But like 2 or 3 times per over is good as it keep you warmed up and the keeper too.

I'm not sure it does show that much. It's equally effective to pounce on the ball quickly, look to throw then just return it to the bowler in the normal way.

I'd agree with David on this. The fielders getting to the ball quickly and then shaping to throw every time keeps the batsmen far more on their toes than lackadaisical throwing back to the keeper just for the sake of it.

Actually i didnt think of that, yes that would be better as it will also cut out that little chance of overthrow.

Hi, I fine that when I throw the ball for a run out, it always seems to lob over the keepers head with no power, and therefore happens again as I have no confidence in my throwing. Any tips?

hie kooka..
throwing ball is not an easy task..
d best way to throw a ball is just point ur non throwing hand 2wards d target n throw wid your shoulder..bcoz wen we throw nything our knee bend..soo as less it will bend more far will ball travel...
m practising it n yeah it really works man..intially u hava some prob but afterwards u'll really gonna njoy..
keep roking brooooo

Throwing hard is all about getting the hips through quickly and keeping the throwing shoulder side-on for as long as possible. The throwing arm should be ready to throw when the front foot lands. Always start the throw from a side on position!

Here's a tip for injury prevention: don't let the throwing elbow ever go above shoulder level.

I think you should always throw, apart from in certain situations like if you don't have many runs to play with, or if there is no one in sight backing up.

Think about it, what would you rather have;

- A run out (the batsman could be well set and running him out would possibly turn the game back in your favour)

- Concede 4 overthrows (in the situation of the game, not very many runs)

I for one, am certainly willing to take the risk every single time.

I found just what I was needed, and it was entertanniig!

Tom M, your comment regarding the elbow NOT going above the shoulder is the complete opposite of what you should do. Your throwing elbow should ALWAYS be above your shoulder when throwing for power.

I've never understood the throwing the ball back to the keeper thing when the batsman is just minding his own business thinking about the next ball. In club cricket it leads to occasional over throws or creates unnecessary aggrevation when the batsman gets hit. When fielding sides do it while I'm batting it doesn't make me any less likely to take on the fielder for a quick single and I find it very hard to believe anyone would feel differently. It also slows the game down. So in summary a pointless waste of time that has only negative possible results!