Submaximal Cricket Fast Bowling Offers a Disproportionate Reduction in Loading Versus Performance: An Alternative Workload Intervention

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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Context: Cricket fast bowlers are particularly susceptible to lumbar spine loading and injury. Quantitative analysis of technique typically involves laboratory-based biomechanical systems with limited ecological validity, whereas contemporary developments in global positioning satellite microtechnologies facilitate an on-field evaluation of loading. Objective: To quantify the influence of submaximal bowling from reduced approach lengths on performance and loading. Design: Repeated-measures, field-based design. Setting: Regulation cricket pitch. Participants: A total of 12 male cricket academy fast bowlers (18.7 [0.7] y), injury free with ≥3 years of competitive experience. Interventions: Each bowler wore 2 global positioning satellite units placed at C7 and L4 to measure triaxial acceleration (100 Hz). Bowlers completed an over (6 deliveries) from a randomized 3-, 6-, 9-, and 12-stride approach. Main Outcome Measures: Ball speed was recorded as the performance measure, with PlayerLoad in the anteroposterior, mediolateral, and vertical planes also calculated for each delivery length. Results: In ball speed, there was a significant main effect for delivery length (P = .02), with a 3-stride approach eliciting significantly less ball speed than a 9-stride (P = .03) or 12-stride (P = .002) approach. In loading, there was a significant main effect for delivery length (P < .001) in the anteroposterior, mediolateral, and vertical planes, with loading increasing linearly as a function of delivery strides. The 6-stride approach elicited a 44% reduction in loading, with a disproportionately small 3.5% decrease in performance. There was a significant main effect for global positioning satellite location (P ≤ .023) in all planes, with L4 eliciting greater loading than C7. Conclusions: A submaximal 6-stride approach yielded the optimum balance between reduced loading and performance inhibition. Reduced delivery length, therefore, offers an alternative to reduced overs in reducing loading in young bowlers and might also have practicable value in the rehabilitation of bowlers postinjury.

The authors are with the Sports Injuries Research Group, Department of Sport & Physical Activity, Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, United Kingdom.

Greig (Matt.Greig@edgehill.ac.uk) is corresponding author.
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