Mastering the Art of Spin Bowling: Tips and Techniques

One of the most memorable and enjoyable moments of playing cricket was watching spin bowlers turn the ball from one end of the pitch to the other and keep the batsmen chasing after. We all tried it on the field and one thing that we always wished to achieve was getting the batsman out from around his leg. What a feeling it was to get a batsman bowled out from behind the legs, be it anywhere, a proper match in the grounds or in gully cricket. Doing that in gully matches was easier, but there were some who did it at the biggest stage. The late Shane Warne used to do it on a regular basis and boss all batting line ups with his leg spin. 

Shane Warne Bowling a leg break delivery

Credit: News 18

Spin bowlers have magic in their wrists, the ability to make the batsmen dance to their deliveries. Muttiah Muralitharan, Rashid Khan, Ravichandran Ashwin have all been lethal, and some of the highest wicket takers and also who could change the outcomes of the games alone. But, we at ZAP are here to reveal their secrets. 

In this article by ZAP, lets learn the art of turning the ball and keep the batsman guessing what you’re going to bowl next. 

What is Spin Bowling and why bowl spin when you can go fast?

A Collage of a fast bowler and Ravindra Jadeja (a spinner bowling)

Credit: Telegraph, Rediff

The term "spin" is where the leather ball is bowled at a relatively slow speed but rotated or added revolution to, allowing it to deviate from its intended path when it hits the ground. Fast bowling is lethal and playing with aggression. It is about using force to stop batsmen from scoring runs and taking their wickets. Whereas, spin bowling is all about finesse and tricking the batsman by rapidly rotating the ball with your fingers or wrist. It deviates from its original path when it bounces, making it hard for the batsman to hit. Pitch placement is also key, as a well-placed turning delivery can easily get the batsman out. Spinners bowl slow because revolutions on the ball matter more than speed. They usually bowl between 70-90 kmph (45-55 mph). To keep things interesting, spinners add variations, giving them an extra advantage over the batsman. Anyway, both bowling techniques are important and the right combination of both types of bowlers will help you win matches in any format, be it T20 matches, Tests and One Day Internationals

There are 4 types of spin bowlers:

A picture comparing off spinners and leg spinner between their grips, actions and release points

Credit: ResearchGate / W Angus Wallace

  1. Right Arm finger or off break bowlers:
  2. Right arm wrist or leg breaker bowlers
  3. Left arm Conventional Finger or off break bowlers
  4. Left Arm Chinaman

If the batsman and the bowler are both right handed, an off spin will turn toward the batsman, and a leg break will move it away from the batsman. 

Similarly, if the batsman and the bowler are both left handed, the off break will always come in toward the batter, while for chinaman bowlers (leg break for left armers) always away from the batsman. 

Spin Bowling Grip:

An important tip to become a magical spin bowler is to know how to properly grip the ball. With the proper grip it will get easier for you to impart more rotations and revolutions on the ball, and have more control over it. Here's the right grip and technique in more details.  

Off Spin Bowling:

Off spinners use their fingers to rotate the ball in such a way that, upon impact, it goes into the batsman's body. The wrist is not necessary when bowling off-break because the spinner will generate revolutions with his fingers, primarily with their index finger and middle finger. Rolling the fingers in a rightward direction will cause them to spin in a clockwise direction.

The Right Off Spin Bowling Grip, the bowler holding a ZAP leather ball

Off spin bowling tips and Techniques:

  • It is important to align the seam so that it runs horizontally through your hand. Line up your fingers for an off break delivery, and grip the ball with the seam running horizontally. 
  • Utilize your middle finger and index finger to grasp it and so that the seam runs between them, stretch them across the seam.
  • Ensure that the seam is evenly aligned so that you can use it to guide where to place your fingers. Hold it firmly by spreading your middle and index fingers widely.
  • To support it, let the ball gently rest against your ring finger. The maximum turn will get created with your index and middle fingers and you’ll get the right trajectory from your wrists. Your ring finger serves as a structural support.
  • Avoid wrapping your palm around the ball because doing so will reduce the amount of turn your bowl can produce.
  • In an off break delivery, your thumb and pinkie finger are not used, and using them may even hinder your delivery. When you are holding the ball, tuck them to the side to keep them out of the way.
  • To prevent your hand from becoming rigid when you need to rotate it, keep your thumb and pinkie fingers relaxed.

Leg Spin:

Leg spin is one of the best ways to deceive a batsman and take their wickets. Also, it is one of the most effective bowling style in a T20 match. You can see bowlers like Rashid Khan bowl overs in the powerplay and even in the death overs. Remember how every batsman’s feet used to shiver when playing Shane Warne? He would turn the ball from one side of the pitch to the other; that’s the level of skill that he had. 

The Right Leg Spin Bowling Grip, the bowler holding a ZAP leather ball

For leg break, it is very important to focus on your wrists during your bowling action, as leg spin requires proper grip and use of the wrists to turn and deceive the batsman. Leg break spinners take the deliveries away from the same handed batsman after the bounce. 

  • Cover the ball with your wrists during the run-up, which can keep the batsman guessing what you’re going to deliver which will certainly trick the batsman. 
  • On old pitches with worn-out and dry surfaces, leg break bowlers are especially dangerous. 
  • In order to add extra deviation, try to pitch it in the rough areas of the pitch.

Leg spin bowling tips:

  • Grip the ball in a similar way as in off spin, with a smaller separation between your index and the middle finger. 
  • Your ring finger and thumb are super important in the leg spin bowling grip. 
  • Bend your ring finger across by the side, not over not across. 
  • Try to hold the ball softly. If you hold it tightly, your control will be damaged.
  • Your wrist should be completely bent at your side as you release it with a straight arm. It should not be bent too far because you want it to remain flexible.

Leg spin gives you the freedom of using an extra lethal weapon- the googly. The googly is a leg spin variation where the ball turns in the direction opposite to a traditional leg break delivery. The grip for a googly remains the same, but here your bowling arm remains straight, right above the head, unlike a bit away in proper leg break. A good googly is a significant addition to your leg spin arsenal, with the likes of Rashid Khan, Ravi Bishnoi, and Sandeep Lamichhane frequently using it to deceive batsmen and get their wickets. 

Bowling Spin at the right line and length:

Cricket Pitch Line and Length

Credit: Sportskeeda

You cannot pitch the ball at the wrong place and expect the same results. You must know how important accuracy is for a spinner. If you pitch it in the wrong place, the batsman will hit the ball out of the ground

So, accuracy is extremely important. 

The next thing is the pace. If the ball is bowled too fast, it won't have the same amount of time to touch the ground, stay, and then turn in a direction away from or towards a batsman. So go slow, at about 70-85 kmph, to make the batsman greedy and step out of their crease to hit big, but then you turn the ball and the batsman gets stumped. 

Read More: Wicket Keeping Tips and Techniques

It is all about the accuracy:

Bowling spin is difficult and rewarding at the same time. It’s like a gamble, you can bowl the perfect deliveries and still get hit for sixes. But never fear, cricket is about taking those risks and winning over the batsman. So continue pitching in the good-full length area on the pitch,where the batsmen are most comfortable. Just like Ravindra Jadeja does, bow six balls at a very similar point on the pitch, and wait for the batsman to make a mistake. 

For a spinner to excel and pick up a ton of wickets, it is extremely necessary for your team to have good fielders at every position, be it slips or other close positions and the deep fielding positions. Read the Fielding Tips and Techniques and take your fielding skills to a different level. 

Spin Bowling Variations:

A Collage Comparing Adil Rashid bowling his Googly, Slider and Leg Break spin bowling

Credit: Quora

To master all aspects of this wizardry, you must know every spin bowling tip and technique that’ll help you save runs and get wickets for your team. Bowling variations are like the weapons in your arsenal. The more weapons you have the more questions you can ask the batsman. They are the ultimate tool that’ll surely trick the batsman when your stock balls (regular leg break or off break) don't. There are many off and leg spin bowling variations like the Googly, flippers, sliders, top spin and many more that you need to master to become a take your spin bowling skill to the next level. 


Spin is a difficult aspect of the gentleman’s game, and it requires a lot of practice to master. Without proper knowledge, you are more likely to bowl at wrong places, at the wrong space and get hit for runs. That’s why cricket academy coaches train their bowlers and make them practice for at least 15-20 overs a day in the nets so that they get a control over the place where they pitch the ball and ultimately become a spin wizard on the pitch!

Now that you've learned about Cricket Spin Bowling Tips and Techniques, here are some more articles that we recommend reading which will take your game to the next level.

Cricket Exercises and Workouts | Cricket Injuries | Cricket Batting Tips and Techniques | How to play the cover drive in cricket | How to play the Straight Drive in Cricket

Leave a comment