It is important for any bowler to work on the basics to try and develop the most important skill of all. This is the ability to consistently hit the area of the pitch that puts the most doubt into the batters mind: the top of off stump. Often young fast bowlers get caught up trying too hard to bowl fast and get wickets with bouncers, balls pitching leg and hitting off stump, slower balls and yorkers. All these skills are key components in a fast bowler’s armory and need to be practiced. However, without having a solid base to work from, bowlers will struggle to execute the other skills effectively.
All of the components below affect one another, so when one breaks down it may cause a domino effect down the line. When coaching or trying to correct an issue always make sure you look back down the line of processes to try and source the cause of the issue. Often it is more than one thing so use video, seek advice from other people (preferably a coach or player who knows the intricacies of fast bowling) and work hard on the things that need improvement without completely neglecting the other components.
Basic Components Every Fast Bowler needs to Work on:
A burning desire to succeed, self discipline and strict work ethic are key to being a successful fast bowler.
Strength and Conditioning
A bowler needs to get into the gym on a weekly basis to improve their strength, speed and body control so they are able to execute their skills out on the park more consistently and often under fatigue. Here are a few main things a bowler needs to work on:
• Upper Body Pulling Strength
The run up is used to build momentum up to the crease through a rhythmical build up of energy leading up to an explosive delivery stride. It is important for the bowler to have good running form (i.e., tight arm pathways-much like a sprinter with everything moving towards target). The run up should be relatively straight and not too long. A slight lean forward is another characteristic of a good run up.
A bowler with good posture and solid core musculature is going to have a better chance of maintaining hip and shoulder alignment in their action. Hips should match shoulders at delivery stride when the back foot lands.
Delivery Stride Stability
Core strength and stability are required for any fast bowler to be able to effectively control the lock up and back foot landing. It is really important that the bowler is able to maintain a tall strong position on landing to a) protect the body from unnecessary stress and b) get a higher release point to generate more bounce. A tight gather is another component of the action that helps a bowler maintain balance and alignment. The front arm acts a” rudder” and should go towards the target. The bowling arm should be kept in nice and tight with the wrist cocked. It is important to note that all bowlers have slightly different gathers. This is just a guide and as coaches we need to let bowlers develop in a natural way, so long as what they are doing is safe and effective.
The characteristics of a good follow through are making sure the back leg drives through towards the target, a long bowling arch (high release point to past the opposite hip), momentum through the crease and a flowing movement through towards target. The follow through is basically a deceleration phase which, if done well will reduce the impact placed on the joints.
Line and Length
This is simple really – hit the top of off stump. Bowlers should practice bowling to left and right handed batters.