The effect of altered pitch length on performance and technique in junior fast bowlers

Bruce Elliott, Dean Plunkett, Jacqueline Alderson
Journal of Sports Sciences 2005, 23 (7): 661-7
The aim of this study was to assess the effect of pitch length (20.12 m [full length], 18 m and 16 m) on the fast bowling performance and technique of junior cricketers. Performance measures included ball release speed and accuracy, while technique variables evaluated were those shown to be related to the aetiology of lower back injury. Thirty-seven fast bowlers from the under-11 (n=14), under-13 (n=11) and under-15 (n=12) age groups were filmed bowling five deliveries at each of the above pitch lengths. Two synchronized NAC video cameras operating at 200 Hz permitted three-dimensional reconstruction of the hip and shoulder alignments, while a standard digital video camera operating at 50 Hz (positioned perpendicular to the bowling action) was used to measure front knee angle and ball release speed. Accuracy scores were taken from a zoned target at the batsman's stumps. A two-way analysis of variance with repeated measures (with age and pitch length as the between- and within-participant variables, respectively) was used to compare each age group at the 0.05 significance level. Results showed that accuracy improved in all age groups at shorter pitch lengths, although ball velocity remained constant throughout all trials. Shoulder counter-rotation increased significantly for the under-13 bowlers when bowling on the full-length pitch in comparison with the two shorter lengths. Counter-rotation also increased on the full-length pitch in the under-11 age group, although this increase was not significant. The under-15 bowlers' techniques did not change as pitch length increased. As under-11 and under-13 bowlers adopted a "safer" bowling action with superior accuracy on the 18?m compared with the full length pitch, it was concluded that these age groups should bowl on an 18?m pitch to reduce the likelihood of lower back injuries and improve accuracy.

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