Biomechanics, philosophy, injury and conditioning for cricket fast bowlers
There are many different skills that are required for the sport of cricket but the most physically demanding and injury prone of these skills (Petersen, Pyne, Dawson, Kellett, & Portus, 2011; Petersen, Pyne, Dawson, & Portus, 2009; Petersen, Pyne, Portus, & Dawson, 2011) is fast bowling (Dennis, Farhart, Goumas, & Orchard, 2003; Mansingh, Harper, Headley, King-Mowatt, & Mansingh, 2006; Orchard, James, & Portus, 2006; J. Orchard, James, Alcott, Carter, & Farhart, 2002). The conditioning of cricket fast bowlers has received very little scientific attention. Therefore the purpose of this thesis was: 1) to conduct a thorough literature review that collated the findings of the limited research that has been undertaken and identified gaps in knowledge around best practice of strength and conditioning for fast bowlers that require further attention; 2) find the experts opinion on these identified areas of future research; and, 3) use the knowledge gained from both the literature and experts opinion to construct a suggested best practice strength and conditioning program for fast bowlers.
Using the Delphi method, a series of surveys were administered to a total of 61 fast bowling experts, who included strength and conditioning coaches, physiotherapist’s, skills coaches and players, all of whom were specialists in the area of fast bowling and had five plus years’ experience at first class or international level cricket. Questions were aimed at gaining consensus of opinion as to: 1) the specific field based tests that are best used to assess and monitor the specific fitness qualities of the cricket fast bowler; 2) the fitness qualities most important for the time of the season and developmental stage of the fast bowler; and, 3) best practice for maintenance of these fitness qualities through an in-season.
The main findings of these surveys were that strength and aerobic fitness rated the most important conditioning aspect for fast bowlers, with strength also rating as most important regardless of the development level of the bowler and the time of the season. A significant percentage of the experts believe that all conditioning areas can be maintained and potentially improved during the in-season of a busy international or domestic cricket season. This can mostly be achieved via performing one high intensity session every 10 days. Furthermore the experts suggested that all these qualities, with the exception of strength, can be trained/maintained via the demands of playing the game.
With regards to the strength demands, different areas of the fast bowlers body require different focuses. Specific bowlers and body types require different training focuses. Some hypertrophy in the lower body is acceptable when it helps with injury prevention but extra non-functional mass (fat mass or extra muscle mass) in the upper-body is undesirable.
Another outcome of the survey was the identification of best practice assessment batteries for anthropometry, flexibility, strength, speed, power, anaerobic and aerobic fitness. Specific fast bowling tests were identified that were thought essential to complete the physical player profile. This included a movement screening test where the top five movements that need to be assessed and were specific to fast bowlers were the single leg squat, sprinting, squat, a shoulder mobility test and rotational movements.