Finger spin basics…in 55 minutes

Last week I was asked to run a one-to-one coaching session with an experienced seam bowler who wanted to learn how to bowl finger spin.

The player was already a competent bowler, so I had no issues with his basic action. But he had no real idea of how to bowl spin.

So I had 55 minutes to introduce the basic techniques of finger spin, to help the bowler to understand what was involved in delivering the ball with high revs (no point aspiring to be a “roller”, I thought), and to leave him with enough insight into the finer arts to be able to coach himself over the next few weeks.

I had to concentrate on no more than two or three key points of technique, then allow the player the chance to experience the act of spin bowling.

But how to resolve the mechanics of finger spin bowling into a coaching session that lasts just 55 minutes?

Finger spin fundamentals

I tried to establish three key principles (because three is the magic number…) –

  • Index finger should extend over the top of the ball at release, and pull down the front of the ball.
  • Shorten delivery stride; braced front leg, land on toe, with feeling of going up and around pivot.
  • Follow through strongly across body; at finish, back of hand should be closest to pocket of front leg.

Any one of these points could be elaborated, but I did not want to over-complicate the session last week (nor did I have the time).

For example, I feel that it can help to define hand position at the point of release – “show your palm to gully” or “point your little finger to leg slip, thumb points to long off”.

This becomes more useful later when explaining variations – top spinner has palm facing cover; for the doosra the palm turns further to face extra cover at the moment of release; Saqlain’s teesra has the palm facing leg slip/square leg, depending on how flexible your wrist is.

During the session, I also tried to emphasise the “feeling” of bowling finger spin – to accelerate understanding by encouraging the player to remember “how it feels” when the finger spun delivery comes out right.

We started to get there – on a couple of occasions, he “called” poor balls before they were even half way down the pitch, and sure enough they did not dip or turn.

Did the session work?

Probably better than I could have hoped, if I am honest. Towards the end, the ball started to dip and bounce (evidence of a strong top-spin component – index finger coming over the top). We experimented with a shorter delivery stride and more emphatic follow through across the body, and started to get some significant deviation off the straight.

Keeping the technical input simple, but strongly emphasising the kinaesthetics (muscle memory – remembering what “good” “feels” like), seems to be the way to go.

Published by Andrew Beaven

Cricket coach, fascinated by the possibilities offered by the game. More formally - ECB level 2 cricket coach; ECB National Programmes (All Stars & Dynamos Cricket) Activator Tutor; Chance to Shine & Team Up (cricket) deliverer; ECB ACO umpire.

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