Powering Up Your Fast Bowlers: A Connective Tissue Approach

By Professor John Cronin


Why not get some eccentric quasi-isometric (EQI) strength training into your fast bowlers? You might be saying that eccentrics makes sense but training using at near zero velocity contractions (quasi-isometric) doesn’t make so much sense for the fast-bowling action. Let’s back up the bus and look at the why before the how.

First what does EQI loading of muscle look like? Well, the athlete maintains a specific joint-angle against a submaximal load for as long as possible; as fatigue accumulates, an eccentric contraction commences while the athlete attempts to resist muscle lengthening maximally through the prescribed range of motion. You can see an example of an EQI in the video below.

The idea to use this type of training came from a staff member observing these Scandinavian power athletes (shot-putters and javelin throwers) using EQI training at long muscle lengths. The question then was why would athletes who require ballistic explosive type motion (like a fast bowler) engage in super slow near isometric type training. Well, the answer is in the below model (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Three component model

The model is a three component model and helps you understand and refine what you do, especially in the conditioning of athletes. It reminds you that there are a lot of tissues that are responsible for force production and transmission. The CC stands for the contractile component, which is your muscle fibres and myofilaments. The SEC is your series elastic component, which refers to your tendon and aponeurosis. The PEC is the parallel elastic component, which includes tissues such as your mysial tissues e.g. endo-, peri- and epimysium. You can see all the different components in the picture of muscle – Figure 2.

Figure 2: Physiological structures found within muscle (Creative Commons CCO 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication)

So all these components have important parts to play in force expression depending on the type of contraction, velocity and amplitude of movement. You will note that the SEC and PEC are modelled as springs (in figure 1) because they have very important parts to play in the storage and utilisation of elastic energy – sling shot effects.

Figure 3: Mysial framework