HARWOOD, M.J., YEADON, M.R. and KING, M.A., 2018. Does shortening the pitch make junior cricketers bowl better?. Journal of Sports Sciences, In Press.
In order to get bounce and movement seam bowlers need to bowl the ball “into” the pitch. Standard deliveries by elite players are typically projected at around 7° below horizontal. In contrast, young players currently often need to release the ball almost horizontally in an effort to get the ball to bounce close enough to the batter. We anticipated that shortening the pitch could be a simple way to help young bowlers to release the ball at a better angle and with more consistency. Twenty county or best in club age group under 10 and under 11 seam bowlers were analysed bowling indoors on two different pitch lengths. They were found to project the ball on average 3.4° further below horizontal on a 16 yard pitch compared with a 19 yard pitch, while ball speed and position at release changed negligibly. Pitch length did not affect the consistency of the release parameters. The shorter pitch led to a ball release angle closer to that of elite bowlers without changing release speed, and this should enable players to achieve greater success and develop more variety in their bowling.