Cricket bowlers: WHY you should be recording your bowling load and HOW to do it!
When it comes to injuries in cricket, fast bowlers have the short end of the stick: data from Cricket Australia reveals annual injury rates of 12.5% in cricket, HOWEVER fast bowlers averaged 20.6%, much higher than other positions (Orchard et al 2016).
This is consistent with other research showing bowling to be the major cause of cricket injuries. Younger bowlers are at greater risk with between 38% (Foster et al 1989) and 47.4% (Stretch et al 1995) of schoolboy bowlers sustaining back injuries. Younger players tend to be at greatest risk of injury because their growth process is not complete. Furthermore, with junior cricketers often being involved in multiple squads and teams, and a lack of workload monitoring, leads to junior cricketers being overburdened and increased risk of injury. Additionally at various points during the season, the cricketing calendar can become quite congested with T20, 1 Dayer and Multiple day (2-5days) matches all occurring in a short space of time, which can lead to a sudden increase in bowling load.
The balance between workload and recovery is an important one, not only for injury prevention but also performance. But how do you know your workload if you don’t measure it? Enter sports science! You may have seen this load monitoring and sports science put into practice whenever Australian fast bowlers are “rotated” or “rested”.
How can you measure your bowling load?
There are a number of different ways to measure workload in bowlers, but the simplest to self administer is by counting balls bowled per session, and then record in a simple spreadsheet (which you can find the link here). The formulas in this sheet are based off previous research and similar to what is used by Cricket Australia to monitor their bowler’s workloads. We also have an instructional video on how to use this spreadsheet in the video below.
After you’ve entered your balls bowled, you will start to see some numbers come up in the “Acute:Chronic workload ratio (ACWR)” column. Previous work by Tim Gabett have demonstrated the “sweet spot” for the ACWR to be between 0.8-1.3. An ACWR above 1.5 presents an increased RISK of sustaining an injury or illness (remember this does NOT mean you WILL get injured, more at an increased risk). (Gabbett et al 2016). As you continue entering your bowling load through the season, you may see your ACWR increase above 1.5 and it may light up in red.
In Hulin's 2014 study, they followed 28 Australian fast bowlers over a period of 6 years, and found that a workload spike doubles the chances of sustaining an injury in the week afterwards.
What should you do if your ACWR increases above 1.5?
Firstly don’t panic! As we said above, it doesn’t mean you are going to get injured, just means your risk is elevated.
Secondly try and plan the week ahead to bring your ACWR back into the optimal range
Focus on recovery: ensure you are getting adequate sleep, nutrition and recovery to balance the higher workloads
Speak to you health professional if unsure, we are here to help you!
The spreadsheet also allows you to plan your week/s ahead to ensure optimal loading. This can be especially important after any extended time off bowling (typically over Christmas for most bowlers).
Fast bowlers are at increased risk of injury, especially younger bowlers
Monitoring of bowling load is important to enhance performance and prevent injury
Using this spreadsheet here you can start to record and monitor your bowling loads
Plan ahead to slowly build you bowling loads, and where possible avoid spikes
If you need help, we are here for you!
If you have any questions on your bowling loads, injury prevention or injury management, please don’t hesitate to contact us at www.healthhp.com.au
Link to spreadsheet click here
Foster D, John D, Elliott B, et al. Back injuries to fast bowlers in cricket: a prospective study. Br J Sports Med1989;23:150–4
Gabbett TJ. The training—injury prevention paradox: should athletes be training smarter and harder?British Journal of Sports Medicine 2016;50:273-280.
Hulin BT, Gabbett TJ, Blanch P, Chapman P, Bailey D, Orchard JW. Spikes in acute workload are associated with increased injury risk in elite cricket fast bowlers. Br J Sports Med. 2014 Apr;48(8):708-12.
Orchard JW, Kountouris A, Sims K. Incidence and prevalence of elite male cricket injuries using updated consensus definitions. Open Access J Sports Med. 2016;7:187–194.
Stretch RA. The incidence and nature of injuries in schoolboy cricketers. S Afr Med J1995;85:1182–4