Neurotyping In Fast Bowling

Steffan Jones

Articles, Neurotyping

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Neurotyping In Fast Bowling

Neurotyping In Fast Bowling

Christian Thibaudeau has developed a system that I believe is a game-changer for sports preparation training. It takes individualization to another level.

Neurotyping is based on the ‘Cloninger Temperament and Character Inventory’ (TCI)

“The TCI is an inventory for personality traits based on a psychobiological model. In a nutshell, people have different personality types because they have different genetic levels of certain neurotransmitters: dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. When scientists measured neurotransmitter levels and compared them to the personality types, they indeed found them to match up. This dictates how we perceive a training stimulus and how we can benefit from our training and coaching sessions” -C Thibaudeau

There Are Three Main Profile Types In Neurotyping:

Neurotype 1: This type has low dopamine levels, so he or she seeks out novelty or new things to stimulate their naturally low dopamine. In psychobiology, they call this the novelty seeking type.

Neurotype 2: These types have low norepinephrine levels. Since norepinephrine is associated with confidence and a sense of well-being, these people seek out rewards to boost their norepinephrine levels. It’s referred to as the reward dependent type in science.

Neurotype 3: This type is associated with low serotonin. They don’t like change; they like to master a repetitive activity. “Technique geeks” fit this profile. In psychobiology, they call this the harm avoider type

So how does this impact on training and coaching methods for fast bowler?

Neurotyping: Type 1

Neurotype 1 are neurally driven. Type 1 can be split into type 1A or type 1B. The difference between the two is the tolerance to volume and the utilisation of the stretch-shortening cycle [SSC]. Type A’s respond to extremely low volume but very high intensity and loading [87-92%+].

‘They improve performance by getting stronger’

Cluster training fits the bill perfectly for neurotype 1A. Which incidentally is exactly how an over in cricket can be seen as. It’s a cluster of 6 reps with 30secs rest between deliveries/reps. Type 1A thrive on Dead-start work, isometric work and paused reps. It’s all about the weight and intent of ‘grinding’ the barbell to complete the lift.

Overcoming and Functional isometrics are a stable in a neurotype 1A fast bowling programme

The main difference between type 1A and 1B is that 1B’s use the stretch shortening cycle [SSC] more effectively. Where Type 1A are grinders, type 1B are explosive and rely on the natural ‘cheating mechanism’ in their body to perform lifts and sports skills. Both are neurally driven but use different mechanism to complete tasks.

Type 1B thrive on more volume and slightly higher reps but slightly lower load. However, restoration workouts are critical due to the higher volume. Neural recharge circuits should be used 2 x week to aid neural recovery. They also have a need for constant change. Their acetylcholine levels are high- they need a lot of variation. Bulgarian complex training sits perfectly for these types. They are looking for that new training method to give them a new ‘rush’ and spurts of dopamine. Excitement and novelty is key to activate the RAS [Reticular activating system] and provide the stimulus to encourage intent and desire to learn.

The key to coaching a type 1 fast bowler is to progress quickly through the stages of learning, use a lot of variation in the training cycle but focus on very few exercises within the session and short sharp but frequent training sessions. They thrive on activation and potentiation drills as part of the RAMP warm-up. This section is key to the success of the session. They really need to be AMPED up due to their low dopamine levels. Multiple day sessions work well with type bowler. The 1st session of the day serves as to potentiate the CNS for the key work that’s to come later in the day. Type 1 fast bowlers also thrive on match days PAP sessions 4-6 hrs. pre-game. In fact, it is a must! Type 1 thrive on potentiating clusters with different inter and intra set stimulation of fast twitch fibers.

Volume is also key as too much activation will cause a crash afterwards. Type 1 need to respect the laws of ‘intensity versus volume’-both cannot be high. The high-low loading is essential for programme design as their high days normally max effort and CNS draining. The difficult part is trying to make their ‘low days’ and ‘tempo/oxidative bowling’ day’s low! Taping the mouth [Tape mouth] is a great technique on low days.

Most 90mph fast bowlers would be type 1. They love a challenge and learning new skills and thrive on competition. T20 cricket is the ideal environment for a type 1 fast bowler.

Type 1 fast bowlers love ‘intensity’. They have the desire to bowl fast and flat out at every session. They are high frequency, high intensity, low volume and highly neural driven animal. They need careful managing and held back often otherwise they will suffer from neural fatigue.

With regards technical intervention Type 1A thrive on Overcoming isometric work which sits in stage 1 [static stage] of my skill-stability paradigm. Key positions or attractors in the bowling action are isolated/constrained and overloaded. The base position of the bowling action is locked in place and the bowler simply goes from rest to maximum intent for 4-6secs. Generating as much ground reaction force [GRF] as possible in a short space of time. This actually generates GRF that’s equivalent to 14 x bodyweight on front foot contact.

Not necessarily the biggest ‘gym bunnies’ as their natural athleticism often helps them get away with doing less. They are the ones who turn up pre-season camp with limited training over the winter and dominate the tests! The other types hate! They don’t necessarily have a ‘growth mindset’ but a ‘talent mindset’

Hip dominant fast bowlers would be type 1B while knee dominant fast bowlers are normally type 1A and should both should rarely stay on a programme for longer than 2 weeks.

Find out more about optimal training for type 1A here or optimal training for type 1B here, as well as nutrition for type 1A here or nutrition for type 1B here.

Neurotyping: Type 2

Neurotype 2 also can be split into A and B. The difference between both is type A thrives on medium/ heavy work [not as high as Type 1] but still explosive. They tolerate high skilled exercises and ballistic work and make good athletes and team players. They have a very efficient nervous system but don’t tolerate too high % intensity [80-87%]. They are more speed than power and rely heavily on the stretch-shortening cycle [SSC]. Without it they find movement harder.

Type 2A thrive on complex training and power circuit training. Explosive jumps, throws, sprints and specific strength work within the set provide the stimulation of fast-twitch fibres.

Type 2B bowlers react less favourably to heavier work and prefer to stay in the 82-87% zone. They need to feel the muscle working and feel satisfied with their workout. They don’t do well with explosive work but prefer a faster-paced dense workout.

They are pleasers. They are the bowlers who will bowl in any conditions, at any time to any field placings the captain and the coach set them. They are the bowlers who will simply agree with you during the session as they need to feel rewarded, respected, liked, appreciated and perceived as a ‘good student’. Often, they will simply tell you what you want to hear.  They have the need to increase their norepinephrine levels through emotion and can actually be difficult to ‘manage’ as a coach. Careful intervention is needed with type 2 bowlers as they place a lot of pressure on themselves to please others [coach and players]. Corrective strength work is key to type 2B bowlers as it allows their subconscious to do the coaching for them. 

In terms of direct technical intervention work Yielding isometric holds sit favourably with type 2B bowlers’ due to the exercise itself doing the coaching. Unlike type 1A fast bowlers who thrive on max intent overcoming isometric drilling, type 2B react better with yielding isometric work and ‘holding the base [drop and block] position. With longer holds, they can feel the position. Partners or external weight can be added to increase the intensity but a longer TUT [Time under tension is still key].

So, it’s key during early technical intervention training which I call stage 1 skill stability paradigm is that the correct isometric exercises are prescribed. Type 1 and 2 actually react differently to technical work as well as strength and power training!

Type 2B bowlers love the yielding isometric drills as it emphasises the ‘feel’ of the positions.

These holds allow the bowler to ‘tense/activates’ the muscles in the correct sequence. Adding variability with water bags or band perturbations will allow quicker progression and increase the chances of positive transfer into the full bowling sequence

During stage 2-3 dynamic and ballistic constrained positions as it allows the bowler to perform the skill without the thinking-the technique is locked!


Using new methods like ‘Lila movement EXOGEN suit’ whilst wearing ‘Athos live’ monitoring is a perfect training session for Type 2B.

This session achieved more in 30mins than I could have ever achieved simply by ‘technical drilling’ or heavy weight training. Creating feel, providing immediate feedback and skill-stability is the foundation of type 2B Knee dominant bowlers.

The Key for type 2B to progress is to design exercises that allow the subconscious to become the ‘assistant coach’. Type 2B mustn’t internalize anything as it may cause them to choke under pressure! They are ‘feelers’- they like to feel each muscle working during strength training and technical work. Along with the ‘skill-stability paradigm’, pre-exhaust and intra set corrective grooving drills are also perfect for the type 2 bowler. Between every delivery, the bowler would perform 10 or so reps of a segmented/targeted part of their action. Whether hip shoulder separation or chest lead delivery as seen in these clips.

They tolerate frequency well but are less tolerant of change. So, a 2 day on 1 day off weekly template sits favourably with type 2 bowlers. They will want to master an exercise before moving on to please the coach. However, if a reason and explanation is given they are more likely to embrace progression.

Hip dominant bowlers are type 2A. They thrive on explosive exercise utilizing the SSC but struggle with volume and intensity. It is easy to differentiate between type 2A and 2B during a complex session. Type 2A bowlers would normally peak around set 3 whereas type 2B bowlers can keep going past 6 sets. It takes less volume to get a hip dominant type 2A bowler AMPED.

Knee dominant bowlers are normally type 2B. They love to get the feeling of working hard and when lifting weights search for the ‘pump’. They have a need to look good in front of others and tend to favour ‘bodybuilding’ training methods which aren’t necessarily what they require. Monitoring volume is key as they often perform ‘stealth sessions’ on their own that add stress and increase cortisol levels in the system. However careful manipulation of the programme and the occasional ‘beach weights window’ would normally satisfy their needs without a detriment to their bowling performance. Find out more about optimal training for type 2A here or optimal training for type 2B here,  and the best nutrition for type 2A here or nutrition for type 2B here.

Neurotyping: Type 3

The stress and anxiety involved with bowling fast would discourage any type 3 athlete from performing this skill. They are harm avoiders and have low serotonin levels. They lack the energy and desire to ‘push themselves’. Neurotype 3 athletes would stay away from any activity that provides an opportunity for injuries and any harm. When stressed these are the ones who normally come down with a ‘cold’. They release a large amount of cortisol due to the anxiety they suffer during activity. This, in turn, can lead to ‘fat storage’ which in turn makes it highly unlikely that they will follow the path of fast bowling. Their type will actually be the driving force in their sporting decisions. Type 3 cricketers may very well start out with the desire to bowl fast. Type 3 fast bowlers respond well to submaximal work and sets of 2-3 reps at 70-80%. They are technique-driven and struggle with change. I am of the opinion that type 3 will never become fast bowlers. They may start their fast bowling journey when they are young however maturation will dictate the path for them. Drop out is inevitable in my opinion. Read more about neurotyping with the optimal training for type 3 here and the best nutrition for type 3 here.

Neurotyping Evolution

Age can have a positive or detrimental effect on the neurotype as hormones change with age. I genuinely believe fast bowlers begin their career as a type 1 but then move into type 3 as coaches. They become ‘technique geeks’, perfectionist and have to stick to a rigid plan. I have no research to prove it but I think this is the reason why most ex-professional cricketers tend to play golf after they retire. Their competitive instincts are satisfied in a safe and rigid environment.

— SJ


Steffan Jones is a former dual professional sportsman of 20yrs from the UK (Rugby and Cricket). He is now a global fast bowling consultant in cricket. He has worked with some of the biggest stars in the game and consistently adds pace to fast bowlers. He is regarded as a world leader in his field with his governing dynamics of a coaching approach to the sport. Having complex knowledge of all capacities that guarantees a positive transfer of training.