Chetan Sakariya bowls during a Rajasthan Royals training session
© Steve D'Souza

5 essential training drills that every fast bowler should practice

Mumbai pacer Tushar Deshpande lists out five drills that fast bowlers should incorporate in their routine to extract the most from their skills.
Written by Umaima Saeed
5 min readPublished on
Tushar Deshpande is a 25-year-old fast bowler who plays for Mumbai in domestic cricket.
He has also been part of the Delhi franchise in the biggest T20 tournament in the world, and hopes to get back into the fold soon.
Having cut his teeth through the ranks of India’s domestic cricket circuit with his pace bowling, Tushar is well aware of what it takes to be an elite fast bowler.
For starters, he knows that fitness and strength exercises for fast bowling are extremely important since pacers are prone to injury.
“When I was a beginner, the only thing I knew about fitness was running and sprinting. So I did that thrice a week. But after playing first-class cricket and franchise cricket, I have understood my body better and what will help me increase the effectiveness of my bowling. Now the training is specific to the workload in the next tournament. By the help of technology, you can track the number of overs which you are bowling and can also get to know the effort put into every delivery,” Tushar reveals.
Of course, along with the fitness training, Tushar also does a lot of training drills to work on his skill levels.
Tushar regularly does target bowling on a 1x4 foot mat, which gives him a target area to bowl at. He says this is really important to practice hitting particular areas of the pitch. Apart from the regular running drills such as A-Skips, B-skips, C-skips, here are the five other training drills Tushar recommends for fast bowlers.

Banded runs

Rahul Tewatia performs banded run drills during a Rajasthan Royals training session
Banded run drills
This popular training drill helps improve your run-up qualities. One end of the resistance band is attached to your body while the other is fixed to an anchor point. Instead of an anchor point, a training partner or coach can also hold the other end of the band. The drill is performed by you sprinting from the anchor point to help build strength and endurance in your hip and leg muscles.
“My favourite drill for fast bowling is the banded run drill where my trainer holds the resistance band from behind and it is attached to my hip. He provides a little resistance from behind by pulling and I do a high knee run for about 20 meters of distance. This helps in my run-up, especially the acceleration during the run-up,” says Tushar.

Parachute sprints

Rahul Tewatia performs parachute sprints during a Rajasthan Royals training session.
Parachute sprints
This is similar to the banded run drill. Here, a parachute is attached to you via a harness to provide resistance and you perform the drill by sprinting. This drill helps build functional power to generate faster accelerations.
“[I recommend] parachute sprints for endurance and conditioning. If no parachute available, you can use a resistance band to create resistance by tying it around your waist,” he says.

Single-leg balance test

In a single-leg balance test, one must stand unassisted on one leg and set a timer. If you are unable to perform the one-leg stand for at least 10 seconds, you are at a higher risk of injuries. Tushar explains the importance of this drill.
“We do a single-leg balance test because fast bowling is a single-leg activity. While sprinting or bowling or in your follow-through, at some point of time, your entire bodyweight is on a single leg. So strengthening the legs individually is very important. And single-leg balance test determines how stable you are when not in motion. This exercise also reduces chances of injury,” says Tushar.

Weighted ball drill

In the weighted ball drill, Tushar bowls in the nets using a heavy season ball or sand ball.
“Weighted ball drills help with increasing your arm speed. You can use a 260 or 300 gm sand ball for this,” he says.

Power exercises

Power exercises like hang cleans, clean and jerks, med ball slams, or if no equipment available, even simple box jumps can help keep your body active. These are especially great during the season when you can’t load too much weight on your body.
“All of these power exercises develop strength through your lower body and improve your overall athleticism. When the gym was not accessible during the lockdown, I did box jumps at home,” he says.

Some more tips from Tushar

According to Tushar, a fast bowler needs to be a very good athlete, and a good athlete should know how to sprint in the right technique.
“Sprinting is a very good training drill for fast bowling. If you have good sprinting mechanics and good stability while running, you can surely bowl fast, accurate, and for long hours. If you have good training mechanics in your run-up, you'll get less tired and your body will be more effective,” he explains.
Tushar further emphasized on the importance of managing workload, explaining how fast bowlers need to keep a balance between how much they practice and how much they bowl in the actual games.
“I think a fast bowler is individually different from batters or spinners, so the number of hours a fast bowler trains should depend on the workload they are undergoing. It has to be managed properly. You cannot ask a fast bowler to bowl 20 overs a day and do the same the next day. That will wear them down and chances of injury will increase. Effectiveness of the bowling will also reduce. In the off season, a fast bowler can push a bit because that's when they are preparing for the season. But between games, a fast bowler has to manage workload properly. In the off season, you could bowl 12 to 14 overs thrice a week to prepare for multi-day games. And as the format you are playing changes, you should reduce your training workload a bit. If you're playing back-to-back games, the number of overs in practice should decrease,” says Tushar.