Cricket bowling workload and injury risk | Back In Motion

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Don’t get bowled over by injury this Summer

Published: 02 November 2016 - Fitness and Training

Image of bails being knocked off a cricket wicket

Cricket season is here once again and with it comes the risk of injury especially if you’re returning to training after a Winter lay-off.

If you happen to be a bowler, you are at a higher risk of injury. Studies suggest up to 60 per cent of state and national-level bowlers are injured each season. And we’re seeing this play out at a national level - at the moment, it seems like the majority of our top Australian fast bowlers are plagued with injury.

Why do bowlers suffer more injuries?

Overuse injuries such as those of the back and shoulder are common amongst bowlers.

There are three main factors that contribute to developing a bowling injury:

  • Technique;
  • Physical preparation; and
  • Bowling workload

This article will be focusing on workload only.

What is bowling workload and why is it important?

Bowling workload is the amount of bowling action undertaken each week in relation to the number of rest days an athlete has in between.

The best available evidence indicates that both doing too much (overloading) and doing too little (underloading) can contribute to injury.

Interestingly bowlers who bowl more infrequently tend to suffer more injuries than those who over-train.

But there is a sweet spot where the risk of injury will be minimised.

How do cricketers determine how much bowling is just right?

From a load perspective, the key to reducing the chance of an injury with a bowler is to build up to a “sweet spot” gradually, giving your joints, tendons, ligaments and bones time to strengthen and adapt to the higher load.

For an adult, the ideal workload is bowling between 123-188 deliveries per week with three to four days break between sessions.

Anything less than a two-day recovery results in an injury risk 2.4 times that of a person who rests for three to four days. If you rest for more than five days between sessions, you are at an almost two times greater risk of injury.

This is important to remember when returning to bowling after a short illness that may keep a player away for more than five days.

For a teenager, who will have an immature skeleton, the current Cricket Australia guidelines recommend bowling 30 deliveries a session, three sessions a week (Under 13s) and building to up to 42 deliveries per session, three to four sessions per week (Under 19s).

It is important to remember that these load recommendations are for healthy bowlers and there are also other factors that help predict the health of a bowler including technique and general physical preparation (strength, flexibility and so on).

To book a free initial assessment with a physio and discuss your readiness to return to the pitch this Summer, contact your local Back In Motion practice.


Ash Moran, physiotherapist - Back In Motion Aspendale Gardens


Bowling workload and risk of injury in elite fast bowlers, Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport 6(3):359-67, October 2003