Continual development and refinement over a quarter of a century have made the BOLA Cricket Bowling Machine the indispensable coaching tool.
The BOLA Bowling Machine has been at the forefront of technology since it was conceived by club cricketer Michael Stuart in 1984. The original conceptual brief to provide accurate and consistent batting practice for cricketers of all standards and abilities is still very much alive but evolutionary development over a quarter of a century has made the latest BOLAs better than ever.
BOLA Machines are used by thousands of schools, clubs, private individuals and organisations who have recognised a very tangible and enjoyable way of improving batting performance. A first class cricket practice facility available to all cricketers at an affordable price. The BOLA Bowling Machine is the best fun you'll have on your own in a cricket net!
Ever since the original BOLA Machine was purchased by Surrey County Cricket Club in 1985 and shortly afterwards by the England Test Side BOLA manufacturers Stuart & Williams have vigorously pursued a policy of continuous improvement and development. The key concepts of the original BOLA design remain very much in evidence but the latest machines are complemented by modern technology and innovation.
The BOLA "Professional" benefits from an electronic random delivery mode, a sophisticated speed control system and an updated electronics package. The BOLA is extremely energy efficient and offers much greater battery operation time so your sessions in the middle or net with no mains power will tire all but the most persistent of net practisers.
After more than two decades in production the BOLA can be found in a huge variety of cricketing environments. All the English first class counties use the BOLA as well as the MCC Indoor School at Lord's (which has used BOLA machines exclusively since 1986) and the ECB National Academy at Loughborough.
The BOLA is also to be found in all sorts of venues across the world from the Sydney and Melbourne Cricket Grounds in Australia to the Mumbai Cricket Club in India. Most of the major and Minor cricket associations in New Zealand are now using bola machines. Wherever there is cricket practice the BOLA is not far away.
The BOLA is multi talented and very capable of recreating all the best aspects of any bowling attack. From the 95 mph bouncers and yorkers of the speed merchants to the subtle spin of the slow bowlers the BOLA can give you as many overs as you want to perfect all the shots in your game. If you just want the satisfaction of hitting off stump half volleys for six the BOLA allows you to select exactly the speed and length you want. But the BOLA microprocessor will also deliver subtle variations of speed, swing or spin when a greater challenge is required. Confidence or competition, the BOLA can give you both by the bucketful. The BOLA is the ideal coaching tool. It provides any cricket coach with the capability to improve almost any batsman. Just having the facility to be able to watch a batsman playing the same ball time after time gives the coach the opportunity to visually analyse and fine tune technique. Coaches can work effectively to eliminate flaws and weaknesses against a "reference" ball and deliver enough accurate bowling to effectively "groove" shots. All players from the most tentative colt to the free hitting tail ender will have the opportunity to improve their batting without the frustrations of infinitely variable net bowling.
Whilst the advantages of using a BOLA are plain to see for the professional players who use them as part of their regular practice and training schedules, they are not necessarily the players who can benefit the most. It is when the standards of net bowling are less consistent and plentiful at school, club and junior level that the BOLA comes into it's own. For any frustrated batsman trying to improve a facet of his or her game, there is no better facility. The BOLA Machine will do what no other net bowler can or wants to do. It will bowl whatever delivery the batsman wants to practise against and keep bowling that ball until you can play that cover drive or square cut or hook or pull or reverse sweep or......
The BOLA can swing or spin the ball both ways and has push button controls to vary the amount of swing. Push the left button to move the ball to the left — away swing to a right-hander — or push the right button to move the ball to the right for inswing to a right-hander. It's simple to use and quick to adjust. Whether you want to bowl a ball like a banana to emphasise a coaching point or just move the ball gently in or away, the BOLA will do it and keep doing it. The BOLA is also capable of high class spin bowling. By simply angling the delivery head of the machine and using the extreme settings on the left or right bias control buttons, you can bowl a ball which will turn prodigiously to simulate off-spin and leg-spin. Excellent for practising foot movement and batting technique against the turning ball. Also if Hi-Viz 3oz practice balls are used they will replicate the steeper bounce that quality bowlers can produce on harder wickets.
The accuracy and reliability of the BOLA machines has been enhanced by the use of a brand new custom programmed microprocessor system which controls the speed and spin/swing functions of the machine. A microprocessor controller was first introduced for the BOLA 'Professional' machine in 1994. This was complemented in 1999 with a membrane switch panel for improved reliability and robustness in use.
The switch panel gives you all the visual information you need to make fast and positive adjustments. In 2000, the circuit design was amended again to include an electronic 'Random Delivery Mode'. For the latest BOLA the package retains the panel design which has become familiar to thousands of enthusiastic BOLA users but with an updated circuit design. The new circuitry was originally comissioned to improve battery
operation times by reducing the current consumption of the control package. One of the benefits of this has been to reduce the electrical loading on all parts of the machine which automatically enhances component life and reliability.
The BOLA control panel gives the user easy to interpret visual information confirming speed, swing or spin settings. The LCD display gives accurate ball speed in miles per hour. There is also one extra digit to indicate (1 to 9) how much swing or spin is being imparted to the ball. Two Tricolor LEDs one for each side, change colour as the bias is adjusted to further confirm the selected settings. The Random Delivery Mode is activated by simultaneously pressing the left and right bias push-buttons.
An Automatic Feeder fitted to your BOLA is the ideal way to make the coach's job easier. It is now possible to observe batting technique from any position and make much more educated assessments of technical flaws and how to correct them. The automatic feeder helps to further optimise the time spent coaching and practising and ensures that a minimum of deliveries go to waste. The key-fob remote on/off switch allows the batsman or coach to interrupt the bowling sequence whenever required for that essential coaching tip or just for a well earned rest. The circuitry has been updated. The basic specification is the same as the feeder that was introduced in 1999. It holds 28 balls and will feed at 2 selectable time intervals of 7 or 11 seconds.
In order that the batsman can time his or her shot correctly both audio and visual cues are now used. The actuator mechanism has been improved to give an over-arm feed. When the sequence is started there is an audible warning bleeper and ultrabright LED indicator. A further LED and bleep gives advance warning of the ball being released. To start the sequence, press the key-fob remote control button once. Stop the sequence the same way. Easy to set up and very effective in use.
Introduced in 2000 and further updated in 2009, the BOLA 'Professional’ has a completely unique 'Electronic Random Delivery Mode’ to allow batsmen to play against a variety of deliveries. The microprocessor programme incorporates a random setting which when activated through the feeder will alter the speed or the amount of swing imparted on each ball. These parameters are factory set to ensure that given a neutral setting on the stumps all deliveries should be playable but different. This is particularly useful for solo practice using the automatic feeder but players wishing to access the random mode whilst hand feeding can purchase a plug-in module which will trigger the random mode in place of the feeder. Players of all standards across the world have become used to the accuracy and consistency of the BOLA machines. This latest development combines those tried and tested attributes with a new dimension of competitive practice.
Millfield School in Somerset were among the first customers to purchase a BOLA with the random delivery function. “The random facility improves shot selection when older pupils practice with the feeder," explained Cricket Professional Mark Davis. “The random facility makes sure that the first movement is not pre-emptive and that every ball is played on it’s merits". Once again the BOLA has provided the bowling machine user with that little bit extra!
All BOLA Machines are fitted with a large ball joint for major alterations to line and length settings. The BOLA 'Professional’ and 'Club’ Machines complement this with 'vernier adjusters’ for positive fine adjustment. These enable the operator to alter the line and length with a simple turn of a screw. When combined with the machines accurate one mph increments of speed it allows you to bowl a quicker or slower ball on the same spot. This saves valuable time in setting up and maximises time in those all too short indoor net sessions. Simple to use and extremely effective.
The BOLA is a versatile source of ball deliveries which can be used to practice a variety of fielding and wicketkeeping skills. BOLA have produced a Gimballed Turntable which is used with a BOLA Hockey Machine for advanced fielding drills. The wheels of the Hockey Machine are kinder to leather cricket balls which are preferred for fielding practice. England Head Coach Peter Moores was among the first users of the turntable and said, "The BOLA Fielding Machine allows the coach the ability to monitor the speed and direction of the ball and is a considerable advantage when it comes to
measuring improvement over a period of time."
BOLA Machines are designed to be used anywhere and are very portable. The machine head can be carried by one person and set up in a few minutes. The BOLA can run from the mains with the optional BOLA Power Pack or alternatively, from a 12 volt battery. Battery operation allows convenient and safe operation at all outdoor locations where mains electricity is not readily available. The updated BOLA control circuitry has improved battery operation times ensuring that your practice sessions never go flat!
The ball throwing wheels fitted to the BOLA Cricket Machines have evolved considerably over the past 25 years. The first BOLAs were fitted with pneumatic wheels which were replaced by a concave solid moulded rubber section wheel (still fitted to the BOLA Hockey Ball Machine). These were in turn superseded on the cricket and baseball machines by a concave section urethane tyre bonded to a cast aluminium wheel. The profile of the wheel is a vital part of the machines accuracy and the hard wearing urethane has shown no appreciable signs of wear in extensive testing and should retain it’s accuracy for over five years regardless of how hard the machine is used.
BOLA Stands accept any BOLA machine with no modification required. They enable machines to be easily wheeled around without dismantling and so maximise the time in use. They also address the Health and Safety issues which arise from operating a Bowling Machine. Stands provide operators with almost complete protection from the ball hit back by the batsman and drastically reduce set-up time and the potential of handling damage to the machine. The Full-Sized Stand (pictured right) also offers a stable standing platform for safe operation. The Compact Stand has a smaller storage 'footprint’ and adjustable machine operation height.
The BOLA is happy to deliver almost any ball of about the right size including real cricket balls which will not damage the wheels in any way. Best accuracy is obtained using the BOLA Dimpled Practice Balls. The dimples stabilise the ball in flight like a golf ball and keep the flight of the ball consistent.
Over twenty-five years of use in a wide variety of environments has proved the BOLA’s ability to stand the test of time. Whilst the BOLA has improved immeasurably since it’s launch, many of the machines built in the first years of production are still in regular use. The new BOLAs are designed and built in such a way that in the event of on site
repairs being necessary, the machines can be quickly dismantled without specialist tools for the fitting of replacement parts which can be easily obtained from the factory. Today’s BOLA user can expect excellent long term reliability and great value for money. The latest innovations are expected to further enhanced the life expectancy of the BOLA Machine and ensure that it remains the World’s No.1 Bowling Machine.