The incidence, nature and risk factors associated with young (schoolboy) pace bowlers in New Zealand
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Objective: The objective of this study was to review the literature on the incidence and risk factors associated with bowling injuries among fast bowlers in cricket, and to investigate the incidence and nature of injuries to schoolboy fast bowlers in New Zealand. Study Design: A questionnaire survey was undertaken with 45 secondary schoolboy fast bowlers as participants. Background: Among cricketers, fast bowlers have become the most potent weapon in today’s cricket. Fast bowling is a highly dynamic skill that places high physical demands on the bowler. Overuse injuries has been very common among fast bowlers. A significant incidence of low back injury has been reported among fast bowlers with stress fractures of the pars interarticularis occurring frequently. A number of factors have been proposed to contribute to this high incidence and these include the type of bowling action adopted by the bowler, the bowling workload, lack of flexibility and muscle strength, adolescent growth spurt. A small number of studies have focused on the incidence of injuries in young cricketers and have reported a high incidence of back injuries in young fast bowlers. No study has investigated the incidence of injuries in schoolboy fast bowlers in New Zealand. Method: A questionnaire was designed based on the review of literature and from previous questionnaires that has been used in studies investigating the incidence of injuries in the cricketing population. The participants were required to complete the questionnaire handed out to them through their cricket team coach. Results: The overall response rate of the study was 22%. Back injury was found to be common among bowlers using the mixed and the front-on bowling actions. No bowler using the side-on action was injured. Stress fracture to pars interarticularis was not reported by any of the participants. No bowler exceeded the maximum number of over per day as suggested by the guidelines of the Australian Cricket Board. The bowlers were also involved in a variety of other sports and training activities. A majority of the participants did not undergo any pre participation physical screening or pre-season conditioning, whereas 50% of them undertook off-season training. Conclusion: The findings of this study are consistent with other literature that show back injury to be common amongst fast bowlers. Education and intervention programs to bowlers and coaches should focus on encouraging a side-in action, which is deemed the least injurious action. Further studies are required to determine a safe bowling workload to players of various age groups. A consensus should be reached among the countries with strong cricket programmes on injury definitions and injury rates that would aid in comparing the available data from different countries.