Wednesday, May 27, 2020

My Cricketing Insights - Parag Paigankar (3) - On Physical Preparation for Bowlers

Parag receiving the "Best Bowler" and "Best Batsman" award in the Times Shield - a rare feat - from the then Chairman of the IDBI SH Khan
Parag shared another piece on physical preparation for bowlers. As in the earlier two pieces that he shared, it's very insightful.

In Parag's own words.

Bowlers - Physical Preparation
The preparation of bowlers, physically and mentally, is different from that of a batsman.

In this part, I am making an attempt to explain the importance of the physical aspects and preparation from a bowler's perspective

Physical aspects - Strengthening of Muscles and Bone Structure:- A frontline bowler may have to bowl 20 - 25 overs in a day. Sometimes, he/she may have to bowl for almost 1 and 3/4 day which could be 30 - 35 overs if you are pace bowler, or about 40- 45 overs if you are a spinner, in one inning. Then, there is a 2nd inning. So, the physical workload for a bowler is generally much higher than that of a batsman.

Bowlers need to do exercises for strengthening of their

i) Upper Body - Shoulders, Wrist, Back, Hips.

ii) Lower Body - Ankle, Shinbone, Calf muscle, Knees, Thighs, Abdomen

Types of Injuries
We have seen many fast bowlers, even the best bowlers in the world, with best of physique and body structure, suffering stress fractures on the back, shin bone, knees, ankle, shoulder or getting muscle tears in the hamstring, calf, groin areas mainly during mid and important stage of their careers. We have also seen many great spinners getting shoulder, back, knee, ankle or hip problems. This is mainly because the workload of the main bowler in matches is very high.


Parag receiving an award for best bowling performances in University games from Raj Singh Dungarpur at Khar Gymkhana, 1988 
At the Gym
Considering the above, bowlers should go to the gym to mainly strengthen these parts of the body but under proper guidance and supervision of a trainer.

At Home
If one cannot go to the gym, then there are exercises which one can also do effectively home like pushups, pull-ups , Surya namaskars, situps/squats, lunges, skipping, cycling, front and sideways bending/stretching exercises, back+hips+ abdomen exercises on the floor mat.

Use of dumbbells for developing biceps and triceps should, however, be avoided as it leads to stiffness of muscles and it is expected to hamper your bowling. There should be good strength in muscles and bone structure should be strong but there should not be muscle stiffness which can affect bowler's rhythm and momentum

I feel that bowlers should generally avoid road running or even running on a treadmill as hard surfaces put enormous pressure on ankle, knees and shinbone. They should generally be running n sprinting on grass or clay/mud surfaces in grounds or on the sand at the beach.

At least 1 hour either in the morning and 1 hour in the evening should be dedicated to physical training on a daily basis but by ensuring it is not overdone on any particular day. Running, sprints and cardio-related exercises can be done in morning and muscle strengthening exercises in the evening or on alternate days.

Weekly Schedule
Schedule for the entire week should be carefully planned out in advance, preferably in consultation with a physical trainer

How to Get the All-Important Rhythm for a Bowler
Rhythm in bowling run-up, the proper landing of the foot, the release of the ball from fingers/hand and smooth follow-through motion adds to the confidence level of the bowler.

Based on his/her bowling rhythm, every bowler comes to know from very first over that today is his/her day. Similarly, it can be an off day or match even for a very good bowler if, on a particular match or day, the bowler does not feel good about his rhythm, or at the time of the release of the ball. 

Therefore, bowlers should, during the off-season (if it is possible) have practice sessions at a nearby ground to bowl only at stumps without a batsman and with only a wicket-keeper / or by keeping stumps very close to a wall / or just taking the help of your friend to be your ball boy (to throw back the balls to you). Bowlers can use these sessions to into / maintain good bowling rhythm, to feel good about his/her run-up, bowling action, the release of the ball, follow through and practice for control over line and length as well as any new variations.

Even when net practice sessions start during the playing season, bowlers should bowl separately only with stumps and wicketkeeper for at least 30 minutes or so.

Injury and Rehab
Many great fast and medium pace bowlers had to alter their run-up and bowling action to put less stress and strain on their bodies and to avoid injury to the injured body part and thereby extend the longevity of their career. Even, spinners add/develop different and new variations while releasing the ball.  

Recovery from stress fractures and inflammations and muscle tears takes longer time to heal than expected. After healing of injury, there will be still some stiffness or mentally bowler will be conscious about the injury. So even the best of bowlers, after injury, have to go out in the nets and play in practice or domestic matches and bowl for long hours to again come back to their prime form, get rhythm, confidence and effectiveness.

Thus, proper physical training is important to strengthen the muscles and bone structure as well as improve endurance levels. At the same time, it is also equally important for bowlers to find out ways and means of having independent bowling practice sessions to continuously maintain good bowling rhythm and also to practice and develop new variations in bowling.

Great sharing Parag. Thanks again. I'm sure it will be very helpful to the readers.

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