Does maximising ball speed in cricket fast bowling necessitate higher ground reaction forces?

This study aimed to investigate whether high peak ground reaction forces and high average loading rates are necessary to bowl fast. Kinematic and kinetic bowling data were collected for 20 elite male fast bowlers. A moderate non-significant correlation was found between ball speed and peak vertical ground reaction force with faster bowlers tending to have lower peak vertical ground reaction force (r = −0.364, P = 0.114). Faster ball speeds were correlated with both lower average vertical and lower average horizontal loading rates (r = −0.452, P = 0.046 and r = −0.484, P = 0.031, respectively). A larger horizontal (braking) impulse was associated with a faster ball speed (r = 0.574, P = 0.008) and a larger plant angle of the front leg (measured from the vertical) at front foot contact was associated with a larger horizontal impulse (r = 0.706, P = 0.001). These findings suggest that there does not necessarily need to be a trade-off between maximum ball release speed and the forces exerted on fast bowlers (peak ground reaction forces and average loading rates). Furthermore, it appears that one of the key determinants of ball speed is the horizontal impulse generated at the ground over the period from front foot contact until ball release.