Coaching Corner 11 – Bowling: basic action – the gather and back foot contact.

The following comments are based on the classic sideways-on action.  Although a front-on action is perfectly acceptable, the advantages of a side-on action are as follows:

  • The action, combined with the correct grip and wrist position, makes it easier for the right-arm bowler to move the ball away from the right-handed batsman on an off-stump line, maximising the opportunities to dismiss the batsman (bowled, lbw, caught behind, caught in slips and gully).
  • By bowling through the “narrow channel” that the action encourages, accuracy is made easier.
  • For spinners also, especially finger-spinners, the action will enable bowlers more easily to produce drift and dip and get “more on the ball”.
  • The risk of injury is reduced (though can never be totally removed!)

So what are we are looking for when the bowler makes back-foot contact at the bowling crease (the line through the stumps) and prepares to bowl?

  • Hips and shoulders aligned
  • Back leg stable and strong, not collapsing.  Back foot parallel to crease for sideways-on bowlers
  • Slight lean back
  • Head upright, eyes focused on target, looking over the shoulder if possible to maximize sideways-on position.
  • Non-bowling arm high, brought up in line with target
  • Bowling arm and hand –“load-up” position – high and close to body. Hand should be about chin-high.

Back foot contact: high front arm, slight lean back, head straight, back foot parallel to crease.  The bowling arm has just started its rotation, but note the front arm is still high. Note also the seam position with wrist and fingers making sure it is upright. The wrist is “cocked” rather than in line with the arm – this is important because it imparts whip and a slight backwards rotation on the ball which keeps it stable in flight.


Common faults:


·         Back leg not braced, leading to loss of height and stability

·         Front arm too low: remember you bowl with both arms not just the bowling arm!  Get it high!

·         Neck not straight, leading to head going to one side and loss of balance.

·         Bowling hand to the side and too low.



·         Stand in front of a full length mirror to check the positions described above.

·         Hold this position and push up on the ball of the back foot.  Repeat several times, and do this regularly. This will build up strength and stability. If you start to topple to one side doing this, it’s probably because the arms are too far away from the body and the head has not kept level.