How to play the Helicopter Shot in Cricket? MS Dhoni's Trademark

Yorkers are lethal, especially in the death overs, especially when they're bowled accurately, giving the batsmen no room to score any run. The ability to bowl pinpoint laser-guided yorkers is what made Lasith Malinga and now Jasprit Bumrah the death bowling sensations that they are. And watching a bowler bowl those pinpoint deliveries for every six balls in the over is an absolute pleasure, a testament to a fast bowler's bowling ability. But you know what's better than seeing a bowler delivering those yorkers? It's watching a batsman hit it out of the park with just a wand of the wrists. How exciting! The sheer audacity and skill required to send a searing yorker soaring over the boundary ropes is a sight to behold. That is what MS Dhoni’s Special Helicopter Cricket Shot is all about. The way he could transform a potentially wicket-taking delivery into a match-changing six left the crowd in awe and the bowlers scratching their heads in disbelief.

MS Dhoni completes plays the helicopther shot

Credit: Playo

So, in this article of Learn with ZAP, let’s learn how to play the helicopter shot in cricket and send those yorkers out of the park. 

What is the Helicopter shot in Cricket and who invented it?

MS Dhoni hits the ball while playing the helicopter shot in cricket

Credit: Quora

The "helicopter shot" is an unique and innovative cricket shot made famous by the Indian legend MS Dhoni. It involves using the wrists to whip the ball across the line towards the leg side with incredible power and precision. It is an unconventional cricket shot where a batsman uses a wristy flick and strength from the bottom hands, and completes a circular overhead follow-through. It is just an extension of the flick shot’s technique, hit with more power from the bottom hand and aimed to hit the cricket ball for a maximum. It is the circular follow-through, that gives the shot its name. Though a lot of players have played such a flick shot, but Dhoni, perfected the technique shot and used it effectively in numerous high-pressure situations against challenging yorkers and fuller-length deliveries. 

We can consider that the Helicopter shot was invented by Santosh Lal, a childhood friend of Dhoni, who taught him the art of this shot, as we have seen in the movie, MS Dhoni: The Untold Story. 

How to play the helicopter shot?

MS Dhoni playing a helicopier shot in an IPL match against KKR

The Grip and Stance:

There is no special change in the grip required for playing the helicopter shot, but make sure you master how you hold the cricket bat to play any shot effectively. Have a firm grip, not very tight. Wear batting gloves that are comfortable, lightwieght and doesn't interfere with your wristwork. Your batting stance should be balanced, with your feet shoulder-width apart and your weight equally distributed. The right pair of cricket batting pads will help you keep your feet balanced, remain comfortable and give all the protection that you require. 


Just as you identify that the bowler’s going to bowl a yorker or a fuller length delivery, in the stump line or towards your leg, it’s the right time to play the shot. Open up your stance by shifting your backfoot slightly towards the stumps and the offside, so that you get that millisecond extra to play the shot better. The open stance gives you extra room for the batswing and you can even drag deliveries from outside the off stump and hit them with the same power. 

The Backlift and Downswing:

After your feet are in place, lift your bat with your wrists, and shoulders. The key to this is to use your wrists wisely. The power you generate must come from your wrists and bottom hands. Use your wrists when you make contact to hit the shot up in the air. The strength in your cricket bat matters. The better the punch of the bat, the further the ball will fly out after you play the stroke. 

Follow Through:

MS Dhoni completes his follow trough after playing the Helicopter Shot

Credit: MensXP

The follow through is the most important part of this shot and resembles the motion of a helicopter blade.  This is the point where you harness the power of your wrists and forearms to hit the ball away. As you make contact with the leather ball, use your wrists to give your shot the elevation it requires. Remember that, unlike any other cricket shot, you will not get a very big follow-through when you play the helicopter shot. Rather, it will be a big jerk at the point of contact. 

Step By Step Process of playing MS Dhoni’s Helicopter Shot:

Sachin Tendulkar plays the helicopter shot

Credit: Crictracker

Get in a stable position:

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart in a relaxed stance.

Select the right delivery:

The ideal delivery to use against a helicopter shot is a yorker or a fuller-length delivery.

Accurate Timing is key:

Wait for the right moment to swing your bat, not too early, not too late. 

Wristwork is important:

To generate the power required to send the ball over the boundary, his wrist at the final possible moment of making contact.

Following through:

Follow through is the most important part and doing it right certainly guarantees that you'll be able to send the ball out of the park, even in the biggest cricket ground in the world. 

Practice Makes Perfect:

MS Dhoni plays the picture perfect helicopter shot

Credit: Rediff

A sportsman needs to practice consistently without any compromise to perfect his craft. And that’s what MS Dhoni did. Continuous practice helped him smash any bowler out of the park. But to improvise and play such a shot out of nowhere, you need to perfect every other stroke and have a sharp batting technique. But here are some drills that you can do to perfect the helicopter shot. 

Batting Practice against side arm throwdowns:

A side arm thrower giving throwdowns for batting practice

Credit: Deccan Herald

Ask a friend or your coach at your cricket academy for a throwdown session and only bowl yorker so that you can get practice and get comfortable playing the stroke. 

Build stronger wrists and forearms:

The stronger your forearms and wrists, the more power you have in your shots. So include workouts and exercises in your gym sessions specially dedicated to building strength in forearms and wrists. You’ll find all the workout plans for batting at ZAP

Some Common Mistakes to Avoid:

Not Timing the Shot Right:

One common mistake most batsmen make is not timing the shot they play correctly. As the impact of the ball with the bat is too close to the stumps, if you miss, you’re certain to get out bowled. Though his shot is more of an instinctive shot, you need to practice in the nets against yorkers bowled by side arm throwdowns to master it. 

Ineffective Wristwork:

This stroke is all about showing some strong and effective wristwork. If you fail to use the wrists efficiently, your shot might lack power. You can overcome this by working well on your forearm strength and wrist mobility. Playing the flick shot and practicing flicking the ball with your wrist will help you master this stroke. 

Not following through the shot well:

The follow through as said earlier, is one of the most important parts of playing the helicopter shot. If your follow-through is not correct or precise, you’ll just not be able to play this stroke well enough and will not get the best results. 


Q - Who invented and taught Dhoni helicopter shot?

Dhoni is most known for playing this shot, but it was not him who invented the shot. According to the movie, MS Dhoni: The Untold Story, it was his friend Santosh Lal who invented it and taught it to Dhoni.

Q - Who played best helicopter shot in cricket?

Though there are many players who have played the stroke over the years like Sachin Tendulkar, Hardik Pandya, Rashid Khan, there's no one who did it better than Dhoni.

Q - Can I play a helicopter shot in a test match?

The stroke is mainly a stroke played in shorter formats when there's a desperate need of scoring quick runs and you cannot even spare the yorkers. But if you are confident with your craft, and it's the right delivery, you can play it in any format.

Q - Is helicopter shot easy?

The stroke is generally not easy to play, but with continuous practice, you can play it with ease and complete confidence.

Now that you're done reading about the Helicopter Shot, here are some more articles we recommend you read to take your game to the next level:

Straight Drive | Cover Drive | Pull Shot | Sweep Shot | Reverse Sweep

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