What Type of Fast Bowler Are You? | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

What Type of Fast Bowler Are You?

This is a guest article from Steffan Jones

As you already know, there is no one type of fast bowler, but they all have one thing in common: all fast bowlers want to bowl faster.

So although the goal is the same, the way to reach that goal varies depending on the type of bowler. Training the right way for your type makes a huge difference to your performance.

When it comes to training there are 3 types of bowler:

  1. Muscular and Effort (Static)
  2. Ballistic (Spring)
  3. Rhythmical and Lever

These bowler types can be placed on a continuum.

At the static end of the continuum, bowlers ‘muscle’ the ball down. They tend to be good weight trainers and spend a lot of time lifting some tin.

Getting stronger will help these guys a bit, but getting more spring by focusing on arm speed will definitely increase their bowling speed.

At the spring end of the continuum, bowlers have genuine fast arm speed. So doing a lot of arm speed work is overkill. They already have it! These bowlers would improve by increasing their maximal strength alone.

The third category bowlers are fortunate to be blessed with long arms and legs. They have great leavers and a mix of training methods will help them.

As you can see, there is definitely not a 'one size fits all training program for fast bowlers.

The science bit, or why this works

Let me explain why this works in more detail.

When a cricketer bowls a ball, his central nervous system (CNS) relays a message to the peripheral nervous system, which calls into action the appropriate muscle fibres to get the job done. This voluntary action constitutes the static part on the continuum. The more trained you become, the better you are able to recruit muscle fibres.

On the other end of the continuum we have THE spring athlete. The spring end of the continuum can be regarded as involuntary. these players have excellent reactive ability, meaning that the more force he takes in, the more force he’ll put out!

Every time a muscle lengthens the muscle stores energy like an elastic band. This energy is then used when the muscle shortens. Learning to use this action as a bowler is key to increasing your bowling speed.

So, before you start lying on the Bench to perform a bench press - incline bench is a better option by the way - take a minute to think.

Would you benefit more from doing clap push ups or other plyometric activity? It depends where you are on the continuum.

Make sure you know which end of the continuum you sit. Make sure you know what training method will improve your recruitment and the effective utilisation of your muscles.

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So if i'm number 2, what kind of weight training would be helpful. i.e muscles targetted and the rep ranges?

How do you work out which kind of bowler you are?

Hi Ali, in my opinion, the muscles targeted stay the same (it's more about movements than muscles anyway): A squat movement, a deadlift/hip hinge movement, an upper body press and an upper body pull.

Rep ranges is more complex because it can vary greatly depending on a lot of factors. Generally, if you need to focus more on strength then you work in the 1-5 rep range with over 85% 1RM. Volume will depend on the time of year. Basically, just keep adding iron to the bar (with good technique of course).

You can and should also do some speed work: The Westside system is a good one if you are in the gym, but you can also do strength-speed lifts like cleans or speed-strength work like throwing a med ball. There's a lot of possibilities.

Anon, the simplest way is to think about your action. Are you all whip or do you "muscle" the ball down? Are you tall with long limbs or not? Then ask yourself, what do you prefer in the gym, lifting huge weights (static) or leaping about athletically (spring)? For most people it's pretty obvious without doing a test.

There is also a test you can do to be more scientific about it, so if people want that we can post it up. But you need to let me know if it's useful or not.

Yeah, I think a scientific test would be useful to find out more about training.

Hi David,
I'm 6"1 tall, long legs if you can guide me in deciding what bowling action would suit me to bowl faster. i.e what bowling action suits my body?

hi could anyone tell me some good nutrition and fitness level tips- I'm 12 a confident, run scoring no.4 and a left arm spinner if that helps at all.

for someone of your height you should be looking to bowl like stuart broad- shorter bouncier balls would be a weapon due to your build.

hope this helps!

Moosa, there is no easy answer to that because there is no one action that suits a tall bowler. Think of the variety in actions between the taller guys at international level and although you see some similarities, there are many differences.

The action is a personal thing and needs a lot of work to change it, so your question is basically unanswerable unless there is video footage of you bowling.

Hi David,
Thanks for your reply..well i bowl some what similar to dale styen (south african)...im 6"1 tall wiegth about 64 kg ( 139 pounds aprox)..plz i need your help to change or alter my action bcoz i can feel its limiting my ability to bowl fast.
thanks in advance Smiling

thanks bertie...i would love to receive your valuable suggestions..find me on fb mooseskhan@hotmail.com Smiling

I'd love to help Moosa but the same answer applies.

hi moosa ill email you on some special tips.

thanks david, much appreciated

Hi, i think my action is mixed,upper half is side on and lower half is front on? How do i correct it? Its somewhat similar to brett lee's.

Sir, i am a right arm medium pace bowler having mixed action. actually i am struggling with my pace but unfortunately i failed to increase it since last 3 years. in starting i was having good pace with natural inswing but now from last 3 years it all gone. my coach says i have a good action and all pace bowling techniques/basics. he is a level-3 coach of india. but after correcting my basics i have lost my pace as well as my swing. i am 6.3" tall slim body having 68kg weight. kindly help me to get my pace back and bowl like a fast bowler. i can send my action video if u agrees. hope to get reply back very soon. thanks in advance

Sorry I havent replied to the questions. If your a muscular bowler, you can tell by the physique. Shoiab, Napier, Gough etc you should be doing lots of speed work because getting stronger wont make a difference. Lots of med ball work and tennis ball bowling. If your a spring bowler your limiting factor isnt your arm speed it would be strength. They need to lift heavy weights to improve max strength. Hope this answers a few questions

Thanks a lot to david