Run-ups are often overlooked as part of the bowling action but are key to set-up at the point of delivery and to the bowling action itself. Often, technical errors stem from the run up so it is important to groove and perfect your run-up so it becomes second nature, feels balanced and gives the momentum and power required on a consistent basis.
There is no ideal length, time or style of run up. Each bowler is different and many bowlers have had huge success with unorthodox approaches. However, all have had the required comfort and control in their approach and reach delivery with the optimum speed required to bowl their style of bowling.
Fast bowlers are looking for rhythm, balance, momentum and power but also to optimise the use of energy reserves for long spells. Comfort and control can lead to longer spells and reduced risks of injuries.You do not need to run from the boundary to bowl fast.
Spin bowlers are looking for balance and rhythm but to land their feet to get good purchase to rotate through the crease and derive revolutions on the ball through the air.
The keys to a consistent and accurate run up are:-
- Set off from a consistent mark. (Shaun Pollock looked down to line up his toes to his mark before every ball)
- Build up pace and momentum. Do not set off at a sprint. Be controlled and balanced. Hold the ball out in front of you, arms above the waist and pumping in an athletic style of running.
- Hit your optimum running speed 3 to 4 strides before the point of delivery.
- This allows for release at maximum momentum with maximum control. Aim for a straight approach to allow for best alignment towards target.
- Power through the delivery stride straight towards the target (avoiding the danger zone)
- Don’t think about or look at the line. Be confident that you have your correct run up measured. This will allow you to focus on your own role and game plan. You may have to allow for conditions or the elements. If you are still growing, you will have to re-measure your run up more frequently.
Measuring your perfect run-up.
There are various ways to measure your run up but all require repeated deliveries, measured and marked by a teammate or coach:
Grab a mate and about 6 cricket balls, (it wont matter what quality) you will need a long tape measure at least say 30 meters. You will also need some thing to mark the ground with the best would be tent pegs if you can get them. Once you have this stuff get to a level, open area of grass. Once you get there just find an area away from everyone as you will be bowling a ball into the open area.
- Lay the tap measure out along the ground.
- Measure your normal run up starting at the "0" point of the tape measure.
- Give the tent pegs or markers to your mate and ask him to stay at around the area where your front foot would generally land. He will be marking next to the tape measure where your foot will land.
- Now grab the cricket ball and go back to the "0" which is the start of you run up.
- Line yourself up along side the tape measure and visualise yourself facing the wickets.
- Close your eyes....commence your run up with your eyes closed and don't open them until you have bowled the ball. Take care to have no obstacles or loose balls lying in the way. Knowing “when” to bowl is an individual and personal feeling. React to that “feel”.
- As you start your run up just get the feeling of how relaxed you are, the idea is just to bowl the ball when you feel right.
- When your front foot lands your mate should be marking where it lands.
- Repeat this for the next half dozen balls.
- Once you have completed bowling all the balls you should have 6 markers showing where your front foot has landed. If you have done this correctly you will notice that most are on or about the same spot. You should now be able to tell exactly how long your actual run up is.
- Stand with your legs together at the marker and walk naturally back to where you started count your steps, and work out whether your final step is half a step or quarter or a foot. Repeat to confirm and remember your natural stride pattern to repeat accurately in the future (i.e. without the tape measure)
You now should have the exact length of your run up.
On game day or even at training start with your heel just in front of the popping crease this will allow for the occasional variation in your step and measure out your run up. A 'no ball' call should now be a thing of the past.
From this point forward you should never need to change the length of your run up unless there is something seriously wrong with your action.
Some final thoughts.
Once you have the perfect run-up you should feel confident to run and bowl to your best ability. However, sometimes you may not feel right at your mark. Before you set off you must have the correct frame of mind. If you are not happy with your field, get it changed. Know your role: are you defending or attacking? Know what ball you want to bowl as part of your plan. Visualise this delivery (with a successful outcome ) in your mind before you set off.
If you do not feel right as you run, abort the delivery and get back quickly to your mark to re-focus.
Never continue if it doesn’t feel right. It may lead to a 4-ball or even an injury.