The influence of cricket fast bowlers’ front leg technique on peak ground reaction forces

High ground reaction forces during the front foot contact phase of the bowling action are believed to be a major contributor to the high prevalence of lumbar stress fractures in fast bowlers. This study aimed to investigate the influence of front leg technique on peak ground reaction forces during the delivery stride. Three-dimensional kinematic data and ground reaction forces during the front foot contact phase were captured for 20 elite male fast bowlers. Eight kinematic parameters were determined for each performance, describing run-up speed and front leg technique, in addition to peak force and time to peak force in the vertical and horizontal directions. There were substantial variations between bowlers in both peak forces (vertical 6.7 ± 1.4 body weights; horizontal (braking) 4.5 ± 0.8 body weights) and times to peak force (vertical 0.03 ± 0.01 s; horizontal 0.03 ± 0.01 s). These differences were found to be linked to the orientation of the front leg at the instant of front foot contact. In particular, a larger plant angle and a heel strike technique were associated with lower peak forces and longer times to peak force during the front foot contact phase, which may help reduce the likelihood of lower back injuries.