Master the pivot to give the ball extra spin revolutions | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Master the pivot to give the ball extra spin revolutions

Do you dream of bowling the perfect spinning delivery?

You know the one. For the off spinner it's the one the drifts away from the batsman before ripping sharply back off the pitch through the gate. For the left-armer and leg spinner it's the one that pitches on leg stump and clips the top of off stump. Bowled Warnie!

Turn is the currency of the spin bowler. Coaches advise their charges to give it a rip, make it fizz and to strengthen their fingers and wrists with hours. Most importantly, make it turn square.

We often focus on the arm, wrists and fingers to impart this spin. This is quite right as much of the spin is imparted in this way. However to really make the ball hiss in the air, you need to use your whole body, not just your fingers.

The pivot

For me the spinners pivot is critical to imparting revolutions on the ball.

The pivot starts just after you land your front foot. Your spikes grip in the turf and you bowl against it driving your opposite hip and knee (right side for a right arm spinner) through. This turns your whole body into a machine for producing spin where the wrist and shoulders are just the icing on the cake.

To illustrate the point let's look at two different actions:

In the first picture Monty Panesar's front leg is braced and his back knee and hips are kicking through. In the second picture the front knee is still braced but you can see the back leg and hip trailing behind. Monty still has the ball in hand and his back hip is much further round already. The second bowler has released the ball but still has not rotated his lower body through.

I'm willing to bet Monty would get more spin on any given day because of that.

Common pivot mistakes

If you are trying to improve your pivot there are some common errors you want to try and avoid.

  • Closing off your action by pointing your front toe too far towards fine leg (or the slips for a left armer). This is more common in left arm spinners. To resolve this point your toe to the batsman's stumps. This will allow you to bowl against your leg, not around it.
  • Trying to keep a smooth action like a fast bowler. This will reduce your ability to pivot against your leg. Focus on making the ball spin with the pivot rather than how smooth your action looks.
  • It's also easy to mistimed the pivot so you do it after release. You see it a lot in younger bowlers who are putting in extra effort. This is a matter of coordination and practice to drive through with your hips then shoulders and finally wrist and fingers.

It takes work to get right. However, if you can rip the ball at will you will become a much better spinner, bowl longer spells, keep your economy rate down and take more wickets. Plus your coach and captain will love you.

Image credits: Dave Hogg, matty_p, tc7.

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Comments

Thanks for these tips. I tried it out and I got back the spin that I had lost. I think I was not pivoting when I tried to be accurate. now i am just as accurate, but I also get heaps of spin

Great news! keep us up to date on how you go.

Probably the best article I've read on here. Completely relevant to me as I have been working hard on my "pivot" for about 2 months now and can't stress enough how important it is for leg spin bowlers.

What about bowling a top spinner David?

I'm a leg spin bowler and find that when I bowl a toppie it's more a case of arm speed to rip the ball rather than pivot, although I do pivot just after releasing the ball to make the batsman think it's a leggie. With the standard of cricket I play (club level) I find most batsmen can't pick it at all.

Do you think you still need the pivot when bowling a top spin delivery?

Good article David, I like it when you get technical!
I didn't realise about that front leg. I seem to remember Illingworth in an MCC video going on about bowling round the front leg, but I could be wrong.
Can't wait to try it out in the nets.

you say we shouldnt pivot AROUND our front foot, but practically every finger spinner on the international scene does this, why?

Sorry I'm confused, where did we suggest that?

i find it really hard to get any spin at all. Do you need to start with the ball held low down in front of your waist, cocked inwards? And as i'm trying to bowl right arm off-spin do i need to land with my right foot pointing down the pitch or side on?

I thought i had lost my spin forever and now this has helped me a ton.

Hello mr. David Henchcliffe
My 10 year old cousin has started bowling leg breaks this year and he has made so much progress that he is just about a prodigy! He bowled a 17 year old batsman out with a ball that pitched outside leg and hit middle, at the perfect length and it was just about an unplayable delivery. He gets a decent amount of turn, from about middle stump to well outside off, he is developing techniques and abilities that you take years to develop, and that is a fact, you just do take that long. But he has done it all in 3 months…

For example, when bowling to me he got a bit of drift! From about middle stump to just outside leg! And he always gets ferocious dip as well! You find yourself playing forward and only then realizing that you should have gone back. Like Mike Gatting Smiling He bowls a good pace, has the absolute PERFECT action, it is literally flawless in every way. He pivots 180 degrees, has a strong leading arm, is beautifully side-on, he is slightly round arm, he looks over his left shoulder, and his action looks precisely like Shane Warne’s action. The angle of his leg breaks spin is about 60 degrees most of the time, and he varies it so it can also be 15 degrees, I also learned him in less than 10 minutes how to control a big leg break and know he is ripping big un’s and beating the edge of the bat. He can also bowl the top spinner and a quicker flatter ball with outswing at an amazing pace. He is dedicated and wants to work hard and is willing to put hours of practice into this art, he is already as a matter of fact. Would you please help me to coach him via email / pitchvision
phillipjz@telkomsa.net

Hello mr. David Henchcliffe.my name obaid manzoor.
I m 19 year started bowling leg breaks this year and he has made so much progress that he is just about a prodigy! I m batsman out with a ball that pitched outside leg and hit middle, at the perfect length and it was just about an unplayable delivery. He gets a decent amount of turn, from about middle stump to well outside off, he is developing techniques and abilities that you take years to develop, and that is a fact, you just do take that long.
He pivots 90 degrees, has a strong leading arm, is beautifully side-on, he is slightly round arm, he looks over his left shoulder, and his action looks precisely like wahab raiz (pak) action. he is ripping big un’s and beating the edge of the bat. He can also bowl the top spinner and a quicker flatter ball with outswing at an amazing pace. He is dedicated and wants to work hard and is willing to put hours of practice into this art, he is already as a matter of fact. Would you please help me to coach him via email / pitchvision:
Obaidmanzoor012@gmail.com plz reply

Dear Mr Manzoor

Have a look at my blog here, this may help... http://www.legspinbowling.blogspot.co.uk/

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