Coaching Corner 10 – Bowling: Introduction to the basic action and grip.

Bowling is simple, but not easy!  If that sounds like nonsense, it isn’t.  It simply means that the technique of bowling is not complicated, but bowlers have got to be prepared to work hard to perfect it so they can bowl consistently straight.

So let’s start with the basic action.  There are essentially three types of action: sideways-on, mid-way and front-on.  All are acceptable – see photographs 1, 2 and 3 which illustrate the three actions at the back foot contact position.

Sideways-on – back foot parallel with crease, head  looking over the shoulder. Front-on: feet and chest and hips pointing down the pitch Mid-way: feet, hips and shoulders still pointing in the same direction.

Note that in all three, the hips and shoulders are aligned. 

It is absolutely crucial that the actions are not mixed, i.e. the top half of the body in the front-on position with the bottom half sideways-on, or vice-versa.  This will lead to excessive stress on the back with a real risk of a stress fracture – so don’t do it, it’s dangerous!  See below.

Mixed action. Don’t do this at home (or when playing)!  The top half of the body is front-on but the bottom half is in the sideways on position.


Don’t do this either! Top half sideways-on, bottom half front-on.  Both types of mixed action will result in a back injury!

Now let’s have a look at the basic grip for seam bowling


See photographs.  The first two fingers lie alongside the seam.  The inside of the thumb lies on the seam directly underneath the first two fingers.  The third finger acts simply as a support, not as part of the grip.  There should be a visible gap between the ball and the base of the first two fingers. 

This is the grip which can be varied slightly to produce cutters, in-swing and out-swing.

Side view

Front view

Common faults

·         Holding the ball too far back into the hand.

·         Putting the thumb too far up the side of the ball.

·         Using the third finger to grip the ball.


All these faults will hinder the “whip” that bowlers need to generate from the fingers and wrist and will make it harder to keep the seam upright.  It is vital for seam bowlers that the seam stays upright in flight and does not rotate from off to leg or vice-versa