We are right in the middle of cricket season in India and one of the things you may have noticed recently is the number of injuries that fast bowlers go through when playing – whether it is Tests, ODIs or T20s. And as the IPL is just around the corner, you will see a lot of young talent come through the ranks. A bowler’s role is even more crucial in the shortest format of cricket as it requires intense energy in short bursts. This often causes injury among inexperienced bowlers.
One way to avoid such a situation is to follow the strength-training and fitness tips followed by great bowlers in the past. Here’s a look at what legends like Brett Lee, and experienced bowlers like Stuart Broad have to say.
Australian pacer Lee has famously come out and said a thing or two about staying away from the gym as a fast bowler. Lee went through a series of injuries himself over his storied career.
In an interview with Firstpost, Lee pointed out some of the things that helped make him into one of the quickest bowlers in cricket:
1) Stay out the gym room. No weights
2) Be a good runner.
3) Work on your flexibility.
4) Work on your lower core strength through sit-ups and push-ups.
5) Have the right momentum and balance at the crease.
Do your plyometrics
One-time England captain Stuart Broad says bowlers have very different areas of workout compared to batsmen. “It’s all about explosive movements,” Broad told The Telegraph when asked about the key workouts. Plyometrics involve a lot of jumping and explosive movements, which actually help a fast bowler in the act of bowling. So in a way plyometrics is the most practical way of working out for pacers.
Broad added: “The batsmen have specific plans, like doing ladder work (jumping, hopping, sprinting and shuffling between the rungs of a rope ladder spread across the floor) for agility and balance, or laying out cones (for players to dart around) to train quick footwork. The bowlers focus more on jumping movements. Before delivering a ball a bowler always jumps up so it’s important to be explosive. We practise by jumping over small hurdles, one-legged and two-legged, making sure we land in good positions.”
Plyometric workouts have proven to improve the athlete’s explosive strength, flexibility, agility and leaping ability. All of these are key areas of development for fast bowlers. Workouts such as ladder drills, squat jumps, clap pushups, hurdle jumps and box jumps fall in the category of plyometric workouts and help ramp up your performance.
The gym routine for fast bowlers
According to Cricket Strength, here are the workouts you should be doing when hitting the gym:
The recommended routine means the bowler will work on the movements and improving the strength of areas that actually apply to bowling. “It’s developed through the range of movement and at specific joint angles and speeds that are used when bowling. It differs from general strength which is strength of the prime movers without regard for the event or skill you specialise in. It is however very important and a phase of training needs to be dedicated to this,” the article says.
The report goes on to add that power for bowling fast is generated through these key movements: Leg extension, Hip rotation and Trunk flexion. So the goal is improving the agility by strengthening the muscles and joints that will carry the most load during these movements.
The speed at which you bowl can also determine whether your body is able to bear the load, and how often you are able to repeat the action of bowling, according to C.F. Finch, lead author for a study published in Sports Medicine. Finally, work with a movement specialist to see whether your bowling technique is a contributing factor to any injury risks. Despite the hours spent honing your body, it could be a simple action tweak that works on your injury problems.