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n South African Journal of Sports Medicine - Cricket pace bowling : the trade-off between optimising knee angle for performance advantages v. injury prevention : original research
Background. The cricket pace bowler utilises various strategies, including a more extended front knee angle, to achieve optimal performance benefits. At times this is done to the detriment of injury prevention.
Objective. To investigate the relationship between three-dimensional (3D) knee kinematics during pace bowling action, injury incidence and bowling performance at the start and end of a cricket season.
Methods. Knee angle and ball release (BR) speed of injury-free premier league (club level) cricket pace bowlers over the age of 18 years were measured at the start and end of the cricket season. Kinematic, injury- and bowling performance-related (BR speed and accuracy) data were analysed using paired and independent Student's t-tests, Pearson's correlation coefficient, Ï?2 test and a two-way analysis of covariance with repeated measures.
Results. Thirty-one bowlers participated in this study, and kinematic data of a subset of 17 were analysed. Nine bowlers (53%) sustained injuries during the cricket season. No statistically significant relationship was found between knee angle and injury. Bowlers who did notsustain an injury bowled with more knee flexion at the start of the season (mean (standard deviation) 157.07° (12.02°)) than at the end of it (163.95° (6.97°)) (p=0.01). There was no interaction between accuracy and knee angle. There was a good to excellent inverse correlation between BR speed and knee angle among bowlers who remained injury free (r=-0.79; p=0.18).
Conclusion. Bowlers who remain injury free during the course of the season may use strategies other than the front knee angle to facilitate high BR speeds. Technique-related variables which are more 'protective' against injuries while allowing for higher BR speeds should be further investigated among bowlers.
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