Cricket Bowling Tips: Fast Bowling / Length Of Run Up
by Oliver Cooling
Shoaib Akhtar: In Full Flight
My run up as a fast bowler is quite short! How do I extend it? I always feel cramped when bowling!
Hi Oliver, run ups are unique, from the long run in of a Shoaib Akhtar to the economy of a Richard Hadlee approach.
Although you may not remember the great New Zealand quick bowler Hadlee, his run up was not much more than 15 paces, when he finished his international career he had been the world record wicket taker in test match cricket and was revered as one of the great fast bowlers of all time.
An Akhtar run up was a thing of beauty, a smooth, long sprint with Shoaib hitting the crease at full tilt. Bowling upward of 150 kph consistently and the speed of the sprint generated the momentum that allowed him to bowl at these high speeds.
Between these two reference points, is a run up for all fast bowlers.
So what are you looking for ... a run up that is long enough for you to build up enough speed to carry you into the crease and allow you to set your action (high front arm and stable head position ) and drive through it with balance, economy and power.
A simple run up drill for you to work on getting the right length and pace of your run up follows, there are a couple of provisos though.
This drill is best used during the off season as it takes time for the brain and body to remember the timing of the stride pattern.
Get a friend or coach to help you with marking the point of your delivery stride and front foot landing.
This drill will let you know when your body feels comfortable with the length of your run up, it's not about what you 'think' should be the length of your run up, so allow the drill to do its work.
1. You are going to put a marker down on the field and run, with ball in hand and jump and bowl as if an imaginary batsman is in front of you.
You are going to do this with your eyes closed to begin with so that there are no visual distractions and so your body can 'feel' when it is right to bound and bowl.
2. Put a marker down on the field, away from the nets and the middle strips, we don't want any visual or perceptual distractions. The marker is the beginning of your run up.
Make sure your foot hits the marker, right or left, the normal foot you start your run up with.
With ball in hand, eyes closed, run at your normal run up pace until it 'feels' right to bound and bowl at the imaginary batter. Don't let go of the ball, just go through your bowling action.
Now your friend or Coach is to monitor where your front foot lands. Without him or her putting a marker down though yet. We still don't want any distractions or you to be 'thinking' about where you should jump.
Repeat this drill, with eyes closed, until there is a pattern to where you jump and bowl. This can take up 12 -18 deliveries, so be PATIENT.
3. When your front foot is landing consistently in the same place, (this won't be exact, it can be out by a couple of feet), we have a pattern and your partner can mark your front foot landing.
Now measure the run up from your marker to your front foot landing point, do this with a tape measure or by pacing it out accurately.
Mark this out on the field with two cones at either end, from beginning of your run up to front foot landing.
4. Now practice running this through, eyes open this time, do this for three or four overs until you are getting a feel for the pace and length of your run up.
Again, be patient, it will feel strange to start off with.
Your partner must stand to one side to watch your front foot landing point and to adjust the marker as your front foot landing becomes more consistent.
5. Practice this run up three times a week, four - six overs at a time for your brain and body to learn the timing and pace of the run up. You can bowl in the nets or middle to do this, with a batter or not.
It will take about 21-30 days for this to become engrained.
When you are confident that the pace and timing of the run up are right, you then move this drill to the nets and middle practice.
Happy Fast Bowling, Coach.