New Guidelines for Youth Cricket Bowling
Robin Halse, Spring Physio Gym Director
22 November 2017
Cricket Australia recently changed their YOUTH BOWLING GUIDELINES. Spring Physio Gym Director, Robin Halse, caught up with Australian Cricket Team Physio and Sports Medicine Manager for Cricket Australia, Alex Kountouris last week to discuss these changes.
As a clinician and a parent, I am concerned about how adolescents manage the amount of load they are putting through their growing bodies. Since a lot of our kids play both club and school cricket, the new guidelines point out a real shift in how we manage the amount of balls bowled by young, fast bowlers in a seven day period.
Alex and his team have recently released some excellent research on adolescent cricketers, which shows sustained high workload and sudden increases in workload are key contributors to bony injuries - such as stress fractures - in young fast bowlers. Combined with technique errors and the fact that their bones have not fully matured, the risk of bony injury in the spine rises enormously. Whilst the lower limb bones reach full maturity by around 18 years, the spinal bones are not fully mature, in density and mineralisation, until the age of around 25.
This research is what prompted Cricket Australia to amend the Youth Bowling Guidelines.
They recommend a constant amount of balls to be bowled per week (per age group), with priority given to match balls. This amount needs to be the same, week to week because it has been shown that MORE balls (overload) leads to injury, and LESS balls doesn't maintain your conditioning.
There should be rest days between bowling to allow the spinal bone to recover, so not bowling more than 4 times per week and trying to minimise the amount of times they bowl two days in a row.
If matches are cancelled, it's important to get down to the nets and still keep that number of balls constant.
Under 13 and Under 15: 100-120 balls/week (match and training)
Under 17: 120-150 balls/week