Pictures used below are to display the nuances of fast bowling and how minor improvements can help a fast bowler to bowl fast, become more accurate, and stay injury free.

How often do we see the following:

a) Fast bowler who is running in fast but unable to generate pace

b) Fast bowler has a short run-up but able to generate pace

c) Fast bowler with a beautiful arm action but unable to stand up to expectations

d) A tall bowler Vs short bowler – we find exceptions in both

e) Short run up Vs long run-up – again we find exceptions in both

f) Side arm Vs straight arm – we find pace & accuracy in both

Ques: So what is it that one makes an exceptionally good bowler?

I ain’t a bowling coach and neither ever try to become one. However, that doesn’t stop me to study, understand, & correct the biomechanics in a fast bowler. Because that’s my domain and nobody can argue on that. A bowling coach can further hone the skills of my trainee to a great degree.

Let us first understand what makes a fast bowler:

As we know and understand perhaps, we are all born with certain skill set. A skill set is nothing but a circuitry pathway that we are blessed with and it is stronger in us than anybody else. For example: a piano player is blessed with a circuitry pathway to play piano and those who excel in playing piano are mostly found to be natural at it. Likewise, a singer who is blessed with beautiful voice quality, or a tennis player, or a chess player. This is why we say that fast bowlers are not made. They are born.

Now what matters is how somebody hones their skill set that they are born with. Those we see at the top are always those who have worked inadvertently (if not intentionally) to better their skills. And then we also see those who promises great potential in their young days but phase out as they grow older. Sometimes we blame luck (fair enough!) but most times, it is beyond them. They are not able to do things that are required by their body to hone their skill set further to become the best.

Science – all the circuitry pathways are covered with what we call myelin sheath – Myelin is an insulating layer, or sheath that forms around nerves, including those in the brain and spinal cord. So when I say ‘honing the skill set’; it essentially means adding more myelin on the circuit.

Now apply simple logic to this – what do we do at our homes to avoid dust entering our beds or tables? We try to seal the doors and windows. What do we do if we have a cut in the wire somewhere? We tape it. We insulate anything and everything to avoid leakages.

The heavier the insulation, the less chances of a leak – be it then dust, electric current, or water from a tank. Likewise, when we train for the skill set, we are essentially insulating the circuitry pathway so that there is no leakage.

And what happens when there is no leakage?

Ans: We transmit signals faster.

Analogy: Think of our body as a humongous electric power house – think of biggest dam supplying electricity to entire nation. Now think of thousands of electric wires that transmits current to wherever it is required. Then think of all the voltage stablizers, multipoints, etc. to manage the flow of current.

Our body – multiply the number of wires by a million (just for example otherwise it could be a trillion) that makes up a human circuitry pathway. Think of all the muscles (400 plus), joints, and bones (200 plus) that act like voltage stablizers not just pushing the signals but also managing the load.

Ques: Why weight training doesn’t work for all sportsmen especially fast bowlers?

Because we may be adding myelin at few circuits when we weight train BUT its not helping the circuitry pathway of a fast bowler. It is helping the pathway to lift from a stationary position in a certain way which is very different to actions on the field. I may have very strong ankle, calves, quads, glutes etc. etc. but if my next muscle/point is not able to receive and then push through the current/signal with same speed then, all these muscles are a waste. Because its a different pathway!!

Example – you train to race a car on a straight & flat road and then you are asked to race in a circular and muddy circuit. Yes, your peddling speed etc. is practiced but does your practice of driving on straight road matches with the circuit that you are made to race on? NO. Why? Because one would need different maneuvering skills on the circular and muddy track, as compare to straight and flat road. Can you win the race against someone who is been practicing on the same track? Are you listening fast bowlers?

Another analogy – my legs can take say 100 kilos of squat. Excellent. I am a strong man. But if I am a fast bowler then I would be using say only 25% strength of glutes/thighs because we don’t bowl with our hips alone, else all body builders would be bowling 160 km’s plus speed. Now, when am using only 25% of strength of any body part, then why do I need to take my 60 kilos squat to 120 kilos? Or practice it? How about optimising my existing strength and make the movement more fluid, efficient, and fast?

Fast bowling – ground force from big toes – pushed up by our medial arc – assisted by calves pushed upwards – hamstrings – glutes (all anterior muscles assisting the movement) then colluding with lower back – arm swing – spine (first extn then flexion) – further assisted by shoulder – pectorial muscles – serratus anterior and finally finished by obliques. This in the nutshell is the circuitry pathway.

Why Injury? – A fast bowlers, inadvertently, end up using different muscles to compensate to push the force upwards instead of using the circuitry pathway because of wrong biomechanics at the foot. Example – those who end up using more hamstrings makes their hamstring muscles over activated. Likewise, some players would take the load on their glutes, or lower back, or use their shoulder to generate power overa-ctivating these muscle groups. Nobody in the world can argue that an over-activated muscle needs to be rested before its put to use. If not then it will continue to stay over activated and one day, it gives us and a player gets injured.

Now imagine…adding load to these over-activated muscle groups via squats, deadlifts, or shoulder presses? What is bound to happen?

Coming back to circuitry pathway – this is the reason why we see fast bowlers bowling in different actions, different run-ups, different arms, different knee/foot angles etc. and yet we find exceptionally good bowlers in all. Why there can’t be ONE BEST WAY to bowl a fast bowler?

The answer lies in understanding the above and how it all works in our body.

I can write a book on this but its of no use unless we understand the basics of fast bowling. So I will stop here and I want everybody (who is reading this) to think…keeping their ego’s and tags on the side, and learn how we move our body. If you believe in science then you will also understand that we can learn more. Always.

After all, there got to be a reason:

  • Why I make a fast bowler faster just in couple of weeks.
  • How could I make them feel at best?
  • Why I have 5 back to back seasons without a single injury?
  • Why my fast bowlers get faster and quicker as they age in a season instead of getting fatigued which is the norm?
  • Why bowlers tell me that feel the best they ever did regardless of their playing age?

Because I work on to make circuitry pathway stronger by adding more myelin (no leakages) which further makes them efficient. Otherwise, I also train strength. Then how can I be against it!? In fact, there would be exceptionally few in the world of sports who carries the muscle definition like I do. Not one muscle….all the muscles! Logically that makes me a learned professional in the field of S&C because at 48 years people struggle to keep up their health, leave aside keeping it like a professional.

Therefore, its fair to say that I understand strength training way better than most.

AND NO….nobody loses strength when they are practicing and exercising regularly in a season. I bet my career on it if somebody wants to do a case study with me. Prove me wrong. My athletes will get stronger as they age in 5 months season without a single visit to the weight room. Could be a brilliant research if ICC or any board wants to conduct and rest this argument forever for the betterment of cricket.

Other related articles to explain science behind why our current training methods are wrong and are conducive to luring injuries: