Reduce Injury in Fast Bowlers by Managing Workload | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Reduce Injury in Fast Bowlers by Managing Workload

Bowling fast causes injury.

This is a proven fact in both science and anecdote. Another proven fact is the more you bowl fast, the more likely you are to get injured. Studies - sponsored by governing bodies and universities around the world - have identified the key causes, factors and contributors to bowler injury.

In the process we discovered it’s not just how many overs a bowler bowls.

It’s also how frequently they bowl.

There is a minimum amount of bowling as much as a maximum.

The the kinds of surfaces bowlers bowl on count.

Even the amount of fielding (ie throwing) is relevant.

Coaches are increasingly giving attention to finding the perfect line between bowling a lot - to gain skill, experience and match fitness - and bowling too much and risk getting sidelined. There is also some awareness that setting artificial workload limits introduces false physiological limits that are counterproductive.

Altogether, there is increasing consensus that WorkLoad Management (WLM) is a key task for coaches of serious fast bowlers too. Coaches and players need to work together to manage workload.

Manage bowling workload

“Managing workload” is a simple way of saying: set a limit to how many balls a bowler bowls a week, and count them to make sure the danger line is not crossed. This allows bowlers to gain strength, fitness, experience and skill while keeping injury risk manageable. This is the trade off every bowler has to make in the quest for mastery.

What is the best workload for this?

Everyone is different, but the ECB have put lot of research into a wide range of bowlers and come up with some general rules. These are for both practice and matches:

  • In any seven day period a fast bowler can bowl up to four days, and for a maximum of two days in a row
  • Up to 13 years old can bowl 60 balls a day (in 30 ball spells)
  • 14–15 years old can bowl 72 balls a day (in 36 ball spells)
  • 16+ years old can bowl 108 balls a day (in 42 ball spells)

As with all general rules, there are outliers: We all know of the bowler who can get through way more than 500 balls a week in peak season without issue. We all know of the incredible physical specimen who breaks down if they so much as say “right arm over, umpire”.

That said, these rules work more often than they don’t.

We also know that different surfaces make a difference. The harder the landing, the more force on the bowler’s body. Bowling on concrete increases workload compared to bowling on grass or a sprung floor.

Easy workload management

One of the bigger challenges organisations have had in monitoring and management workloads is difficulty obtaining workload data from players.

Cricketers are notoriously lax in submitting reports by paper or email. Even then it requires a small army of administrators to compile and assess the data. PitchVision has been working in first-class cricket to make this process as easy and reliable as possible; to remove the inconvenience factor for players, administrators, coaches and physio’s alike.

The solution is PitchVision Workload Management.

Players and coaches are able to:

  • Set a weekly limit for balls bowled.
  • Track balls bowled in practice, games and informal sessions.

You can see the results on the phone or laptop to see how workloads compares to limits for the day, week, month, season or more. You can even see different surface types.

The convenience and simplicity factor is addressed through the PitchVision app (Android or iOS) making fast and easy for players log their workload, even when they are still at the session or on the bus home.

For administrators,and coaches the results update in real-time on your own app or via your portal.

It’s a superb way to track and visualise this crucial part of bowling fast.

What are your experiences on managing bowlers to keep injury at bay?

For details on workload management system, please, contact PitchVision.

  • Kapil Bhatia on +91 9321 243797 or
  • Neil Fairbairn on +44 (0) 7813 649054 or
  • Craig van Dyk on +27 (83) 5568019 or

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