How to become a genuine fast bowler

Fast bowling is the toughest art in the game of cricket. Especially in India, fast bowlers are so rare. A lot of bowlers, who played for India (Or domestic cricket) or still playing, hover around the speeds of 130-135 and a few reach the speeds of 140 Kph. So being a professional, a close student of the game, here I have a few advices which I am going to share with young fast bowling aspirants.

In order to bowl consistently fast and at good length, you have to work really hard and without losing the work ethics. Here are the essential things you need to do in order to become a tearaway fast bowler:

Analyse your body

In order to become a successful fast bowler, you have to first of all analyze yourself. The bodies of different people are different. Some people can bowl 100 overs a month and still feel ready to go however others might break down in just 50 overs. So how will you know how many overs you can bowl per month? The best answer is, if you are a fast bowler, you already know about how many overs you can bowl before feeling sore everywhere. Also remember that the speed depends on age as well. A 14 year old boy cannot bowl 135 kph. You have to make sure that you develop yourself according to your age and don't try to bowl too fast too early. Pat Cummins from Australia is a good example of this. He is fast, he is talented but unfortunately he failed to analyze himself. He came onto the scenes when he was 18 and consistently bowled at 145 kph but that affected his body and nowadays he suffers from lower back stress fractures almost after every series.

Make your body tougher and stronger

So once you have analysed about how many overs you can bowl, start working to make your body stronger. The most affected areas of a fast bowler are shoulders, lower back, groin, hamstring, ankles and heels. So the stronger these body parts are, the longer you can bowl. Here are some recommended exercises you can try to make these body parts stronger:

Shoulders: Dumbbell shoulder press, Rear lateral raise and Single-Arm row.
Lower Back: Lunges, Water jogging, And Crunches
Groin and Hamstrings: Squats, Band abduction exercises of leg and running along with stretching
Heel: Wall and book stretch, the bottle stretch.
Ankle: Ankle turns, Ankle lifts and stretching.

Combine these exercises with good diet and consistency and soon you will be stronger and tougher which will help you to bowl more overs. Patience is the key. As I earlier said in this article that the bodies of different people are different, some people need less time to get better and others need more time. So keep working hard until you get the desired result.

Make realistic goals

Since you have analysed your body, now start planning about how you will go day by day. Once you have started to gain strength and a tougher body, you will gain speed as well. Make realistic goals about speed. Don't get overexcited and start trying too hard as it will cause injury and you will go back from where you have started. Make goals like if you are bowling at 110 kph, try to reach 112 by the end of the month. Imagine if you can gain 2 kph per month, you will be 24 kph quicker at the end of the year and that is a great success. You started from 110 kph and ended at 134 kph. So if you can continue this for three years, you will be easily bowling in the high 140s or even 150s. Don't ever try to go to 140 straightaway.

Runup and bowling action

The faster your runup and action is, the faster you will be able to bowl. The reason behind this is simple physics. Let's suppose you are running in at 12 kph, so when you release the ball, you will at least put some speed from your running into the ball (The ball is in motion with you during runup and hence is moving at the same speed as you are). A fast action will generate more energy during release making it even faster. Measure your runup which suits you. The longer runup will help you to have more space for running and hence increasing your velocity of body towards batsman but it will also tire you up so soon. Make sure you tilt back at the end of your runup and lean forward while delivering the ball as it will use your upper body strength, making the ball faster. Momentum is very important while delivering. Make sure your front arm goes down as your back arm goes up. Jerk the wrist (Yes jerking the wrist is allowed) at the point of release. It will add some more pace and bounce as well. While jerking your wrists make sure you don't bend your knees or else it will be called a no ball and you will be taken out of the attack (Repeating it might cause a ban too). Practising wrist jerking in nets before trying it in a match is highly recommended. Make sure your runup and action is as smooth as possible. A poor action might not only reduce speed, accuracy but also cause injuries.

Good diet and sleep

A good diet and sleep of at least 9 hours a day is very important if you want to become a good fast bowler. Eat lean proteins like chicken or turkey. Make sure your most of the fats are coming from sources like mixed nuts or olive oil. Eat a lot of green vegetables and avoid much carbohydrate. Include juices in your daily diet and drink plenty of water. If you don't sleep much and the water intake is not up to a good level, you will get cramps and will have to sit out for a few days and that will make a mess of your progress.

Proper rest

Hard work is key to the success but you have to combine hard work with a lot of rest as well. Apart from sleep, you have to make sure that you are not bowling more than what your body allows you. This is the biggest reason of a breakdown. The stress fractures in lower back of fast bowlers are caused mostly due to extra workload. Go according to your progress. If you have a body which can withstand 20 overs a week, do not bowl more than that but make sure that you are good enough to bowl 25 or at least 23 overs 10 or 15 days later. That is how you will improve day by day (Or you can say week by week).

Cardio exercises and stretching

Weight training is important to build a good, strong body which is less prone to breakdowns but cardio exercises like running, swimming and skipping are known to improve stamina and endurance. As a fast bowler you will need a lot of stamina. It is never easy to bowl 10 overs under 40 degree C. Running (Long distance, sprints, strides) are the most important part of a fast bowler's training. Once Dale Styne was asked about how he manages to bowl the same speeds throughout the day, he said that as a youngster he did a lot of cross country. Running increases the heartbeats, makes breaths longer (And hence more air to lungs) and more blood is circulated to entire body. Stretching after running is very important. Stretching makes you flexible (And makes some parts of body stronger as well) which reduces the chance of injuries. 20 minutes of stretching after every cardio session, before and after a practise session is recommended. Just like any other exercise, stretching too much will cause injury as well. Putting too much pressure might tear the muscle. Running more than what your body can withstand will make you tired. So just like in bowling, make realistic goals in exercises as well. Start from least and keep improving day by day.


I practise meditation regularly. It's not just me but a lot of sportsmen practise it daily. It helps to be calm under pressure situation and makes us more focused. It might not sound too important but it's actually very important. As a fast bowler you have to run in from a distance of 20-30 meter and bowl. In the case you have a bad day. You get smashed for a few fours, Sixes, some dropped catches of your bowling, some top edges landed in the safe zones and some bad decisions might be made on your bowling. In this case you might lose your focus and get frustrated. If you practise meditation regularly, you are highly unlikely to get frustrated.

For coaches

In India, most of the coaches prefer the bowlers who bowl good line and length. Change this mentality and things will definitely change. Coaches themselves must analyse the kids who can go on to bowl quick, must motivate them and never demoralise them for just one or two bad day. Encourage them to ball fast if they have what it takes.

So these are the basic things you will need to follow in order to succeed as a fast bowler. There are some other things which you have to take care of like avoid being overconfident, giving up after trying for a few months and bowling those big no balls in the nets. Make sure you never ball no balls in the nets. If you ball no balls in the nets, you will get a habit of bowling them and you will struggle in matches. You will get confused about why you bowl so well in nets but you are consistently wayward in matches (Bowling from 22 yards and bowling from 18 yards are different things altogether). Don't be demoralized by a bad day.

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Author: Partha K.21 Feb 2017 Member Level: Gold   Points : 5

Although cricket is a very popular sports in India, generally young Indians want to groom themselves as batsmen, because in Indian context batsmen come to limelight more often. Even if someone wants to be a bowler, he/she opts for spin bowling. Fast bowling or swing bowling is not being encouraged in India. But I feel that a fast bowler rhythmically running to bowl the next ball is a most beautiful sight of cricket.
The author has mentioned every detail regarding grooming of a young and promising fast bowler. In Indian condition, proper grooming is more important because due to the weather condition and pitches in India, a fast bowler can't sustain for more than 7-8 years. We can cite the examples of Kapil Dev, Irfan Pathan, Zaheer Khan or Munaf Patel to substantiate this argument. All of them started as genuine fast bowlers, but later their speed was considerably reduced. Irfan Pathan is the most wasted talent in the fast bowling pool of India.
However, I would like to state that the author could have mentioned some details of swing bowling. In test cricket or in day-night match, swing bowlers can effectively utilize the dew or the breeze to give the team some valuable break-through.
Concluding my comments, I congratulate the author for a genuinely good article on the art of fast bowling.

Author: Jeets05 Apr 2017 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 10

Let me add a very important point to bowl faster which the author has missed to mentioned. When you start running to bowl, just leave any kind of tension in your body. You should run with rhythm; if your running rhythm is not good, you can't bowl faster. When you reach to the stump, you should jump as high as possible. It will give you the motion which you need while releasing the ball. And when you move your left hand up, try to pull it as high as possible, because the more you will take care for your left hand movement, the more power you will get in the right hand (for the right hand bowler). Please remember that your left hand should go up straight, touching your left ear. While your left arm goes up, your head should stay still and your eyes should always look for the place you want to bowl it. While delivering the ball, you should jerk the wrist, as author has said, to bring more pace in your ball and bend your waist in the follow through. This will bring some more pace to your bowling.

A nice article and good one to the player who wants to learn fast bowling.

Author: Vimaldev Ullattuthodiyil Vasudevan07 Nov 2019 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 5

A nice write up which will be helpful to future fast bowlers. As mentioned by the author, mental toughness is a great tool for a fastballer. Yoga and such activities will help to get the required mental strength. Many bowlers will bowl accurately in the nets but due to the pressure, they cannot bowl well in the match ground.

Also, you should know how to grip the ball to deliver a great fastball. There are different grips for in cutters, out cutters and reverse swing balls. Normally you should grip forefinger and middle finger parallel to the seam of the cricket ball which will provide extra pace to the ball once it bounces after pitching the ground.

Also, you need to fine-tune your run-up with how much distance you need to cover before delivering the ball. Most of the coaches tell that more distance to run will help to get more pace. But there is no strict rule for that. In modern cricket, we have bowlers like Jaspreet Bumrah who use very short run-up. But is observed that fast bowlers who are using short run-ups mostly get injured in a short time.

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