DTG Interviews Ian Pont
DTG: Tell us about your website (UPF Cricket Academy) and how it is helping young fast bowlers ?
Ian Pont: We had a lot of success coaching in India. The challenge is that there are so many people to work with in India. When it comes to fast bowling in particular, what we discovered was a lot of youngsters were being told to slow down, bowl on line & length. I wanted to introduce a physical coaching system which I have done in India over the last 5 years. As I couldn’t be everywhere at the same time, my idea was then to have an online version which is upfcricket.com and we decided to offer a subscription service like Netflix so you could watch videos, listen to content, see how to bowl fast and straight, increase you speed and become a much better fast bowler. That was done over a series of videos that we put up and other information which people are able to access.
I decided that the best way of doing this is not to charge a lot of money. We tried to keep it down to 600-700 rupees/month. I know that not everyone could afford that but it is pretty affordable. Nowadays, most of the people (including India) have smartphones, they will access the information, use the stuff they get (from our website), can get the coaching they need and end up educating themselves to become the very best versions of themselves.
The whole point of upfcricket.com was really to help those young guys who wanted to be better and give them something they can definitely work with to become the best cricketers.
DTG: If pace is something to be learnt, why do we only come across the example of Imran Khan (as he remodeled his bowling action and went from medium to more pace). Why do we see some bowlers fade away or lose pace after changing their bowling action?
Ian Pont: If you go back in history and have a look at some great fast bowlers of the past, I don’t think we are bowling any faster today than some of the bowlers bowling 60-70 years ago. In the bodyline series in 1930, Harold Larwood was reported bowling between 90 and 100 miles an hour. We haven’t really learned how to teach fast bowling. Imran Khan remodeled his bowling action in 1970s and came back from a medium pace bowler to one of the most ferocious fast bowlers on the planet. A lot of this is about desire. So, if you want to be a great fast bowler, I think first thing is what’s in your heart. Do you have a heart full of pace? Do you listen to a coach who says, “slow down, bowl on line & length”? That is actually very negative for you to bowl fast. The reason coaches say that is because the coaches do not realize how to coach speed. Some of them believe speed is not coachable which is crazy because we know we can jump higher, run faster, throw further, swim quicker but can’t bowl faster? It doesn’t make sense. Every other sport that has a rotational ballistic movement, as fast bowling is a rotational ballistic movement, you can teach people how to improve the way they do that to become more effective and more efficient. The part of the problem for a lot of cricketers who want to bowl fast is where do you get that coaching from? I think you have to educate yourself. The information is out there. It’s not generally used. There are a lot of myths associated with fast bowling and the problem is people keep those myths going on. The coaches that do not understand how to teach speed will say, “you don’t need to be fast to be a great cricketer” and that’s true to an extent. You don’t have to bowl 160 clicks to play international cricket or get a contract in the IPL. Spinners don’t bowl that fast, they need skill. You need skills as a fast bowler too. It’s a must to bowl line & length. You can’t just run and bowl anywhere you want and hope for the best. What you should be trying to do is to be the fastest version of you with control. The interesting fact about speed is for speed you need the same things that you need for good control i.e. good body movement, understanding the synchronization, good rhythm coordination but the coach that works with you needs to understand the linking process of the CNS, biomechanics but not feed you that information in a complex or complicated way. The skill and art of coaching is taking something complex and make it incredibly simple so that everyone can understand.