As a coach, I get asked all the time, how can I bowl faster. It’s a fantastic feeling when you are effortlessly bowling 80mph+ and intimidating the batsman with your pace.
Bowling fast comes down to two crucial aspects. The speed through your run up and the speed through the delivery stride. There is a motion that is required to transfer energy efficiently all the way out of your hand and into the ball. This is a lot easier than many people think it may be.
From the top of your mark all the way down to the stumps, it should be a straight line. The idea is that all the energy and momentum is going towards where you want to bowl.
So, if you have a jump or arms are flinging out to the side, then you could potentially be wasting energy and working against yourself.
You want to be bowling in nice straight lines and driving through the crease. You can then work at bowling quicker and more efficiently.
This is where the delivery begins and brings you into the delivery stride and follow through. When you hear commentators says that a bowler has great rhythm, they are talking about their run-up.
Cricketers spend years working with specialists and coaches to improve their run-up to get a nice smooth rhythm.
It all starts off with the distance of the run up. It is a well-known fact that it takes approximately 50-60 metres to reach your top-speed. This along with the speed of your run-up will gather your momentum through the crease.
A great tip for you to try out is to go through your run-up with your eyes closed to get that smooth rhythmic feeling of your run-up. I would start at the crease and just run as many steps as you can with the ball in your hand until you feel comfortable to release the ball. This is will give you a good idea as to where your run up should begin from.
You want to be making sure that you are bowling from a strong foundation when you land in the crease. This means your front foot pointing towards the target with a strong braced front leg. Not all bowlers have this when you watch international cricketers but a strong braced leg will help moving the rest of your body efficiently like your shoulders and hips.
A common fault I see here in players is staying on the back foot to longer before taking off into your delivery stride. Carrying all that momentum from your run-up, it is so easy to lose your balance here if you stay too long on your back foot and as a result, you’ll see players falling over as they release the ball.
Here is a great drill shown by Daniel Seha that shows how to explode through your action the minute you land on your front foot:
Side-on Action vs Front-On Action
With a side-on bowler, what I noticed is the back-foot landing parallel to the crease with so much counter rotation between the hip and the shoulder to generate that speed. So, this type of bowler would generate most of their speed through sideways movements in their delivery stride such as trunk and hip rotation. Therefore, this bowler would not depend so much on the speed of their run-up.
In contrast, a front on bowler uses the momentum of their run-up to generate speed through the crease. So, these bowlers will run in hard and explode through the delivery stride, carrying all the momentum towards the target.
This is one of the most overlooked areas when it comes to a bowler’s action which is crazy because the non-bowling arm is what allows the bowler to drive his energy in the right direction. The key idea here is to drive your arm down as hard as you can towards your hips to really carry you through.
A great tip I’d recommend here is to think like you are pulling the stump towards you as you get into your delivery stride. That will really focus on driving your non-bowling hand down.
Your core is an integral part in any sport you play and when it comes to your bowling, that’s no different. Here it is all about how much speed you can generate through the movement of your trunk in the delivery stride.
Even the angle of the wrist in delivery can add a couple of mph to your speed through the amount of flexion you can get behind that cricket ball at the very last bit of releasing the ball.
You want a nice strong wrist position from where you are going to unload all the momentum from to help release that ball at high speeds.
This is the aspect where I struggled early on in my career as I would usually stop as I got into my delivery stride and not really follow through.
I have learned from my coach that the speed and distance of the follow through play a crucial part in fast bowling.
One thing I found very interesting from my research is bowlers especially in their younger years are potentially scared to follow through because they are worried about the ball coming back to them by losing sight of the ball.
One great tip I learnt from my bowling coach is to think about going past your left knee if you are a right-handed bowler which actually helps you get some late swing at times too.
Hopefully this information helps you get out there and helps you pick up some speed in your deliveries. Remember the key thing is to have a strong run-up that is smooth and carries a lot of momentum. You then want to explode through your delivery stride depending on your action. The most important thing is not to stop at this point, but to follow through towards your target.
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