Run-up, Why?

Have you been lucky enough to have watched Michael Holding bowling? He was called the ‘Rolls-Royce’ of fast bowlers because he had such a smooth run up to the wicket. It was effortless, accelerating and flowing. The Late Malcolm Marshall on the other hand had a short run up. He sprinted in and bowled at great, menacing pace.

Shane Warne just walks, trots and hops and puts great effort into the last two strides to bowl. Bishen Singh Bedi, the great left arm spinner’s action was described as a ‘poetry in motion’. He would never go back to his run up mark if he was stopped in his run up for he was a bowler who could bowl without marking his run up.

Why do you need a run up?

Things that begin well, usually end well. To bowl well it is important that your fingers, wrist, arms, shoulders and body co-ordinate efficiently and merge into a smooth bowling action. A good, balanced, fluid run-up will create a rhythm that will combine these factors well. Just as an airplane needs momentum before take off, a bowler needs forward momentum to bowl.

Whether you are a fast bowler or spinner you got to have a rhythmic run up to attain maximum momentum at the point of delivery. The momentum thus achieved from the run-up will help you increase your upper body speed so necessary to bowl fast. All good spinners need a good body action, and a smooth, rhythmic run up comes in handy.

Bowlers, who do not have a rhythmic run up, tend to use more strength than required and in the process get into a faulty body position at the point of delivery. As a result they do not bowl what they want to.

Like you need the right arousal level to perform well, so also the run up should be of just the right pace so that you get enough time to get your body into the right position to attain optimum results.

Bowling Run Up – Why lean forward in run-up?

You must have seen how top class bowlers like Allan Donald lean forward in their run up. Why do they do this?

When you lean forward as you run in to bowl, the length of your stride is restricted, so that you do not take long strides and throw the body off balance. The other advantage is that you can keep accelerating as you reach the delivery stride without increasing the length of your stride. The stride prior to the delivery stride is the longest and this is also the fastest. Here the right-arm bowler hops, using the left leg to take off and the right leg – preceding the left leg – lands, preparing for the delivery stride.

The human body, like a wound up spring, has a tendency to unwind in the opposite direction. Hence, leaning forward as you run up helps your body, according to the unwinding principle, to rock back as your right leg lands to go into the delivery stride. The rock back of the body in the delivery stride and the leaning forward of the run up are in exactly opposite directions.

The upper body speed in this stride is very important from all aspects of bowling. Thus, the action of leaning forward and rocking back gives you good upper body speed. Moreover, it gives you a good follow through, thus giving you that extra bite off the wicket that commentators call ‘nip’. Now that you know why Allan Donald leans forward in his run up, the next time you watch him, concentrate on his strides, his hop in the penultimate stride, his rock back action and his upper body speed as he delivers the ball. You will get to learn a lot.

Remember : If your bowling is deceptive you have more chances of picking wickets. Force batsmen to hurry their strokes. That’s where you can catch them unawares.