Do you make these mistakes when coaching spinners? | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Do you make these mistakes when coaching spinners?

Would your club side be better with a couple of excellent spin bowlers? How about your Test team?

They are mysterious, a joy to watch and frustrating to play against. But spinners need careful attention if they are to be developed properly. It's easy for coaches and captains to crush the enthusiasm and confidence of a young player simply by misunderstanding how to handle them.

So before you head out to coach your next spin session, consider these 4 mistakes and keep yourself away from them.

1. Not teaching the skills

A lot of coaches don't go beyond the very basics of bowling spin. Perhaps a quick introduction to off spin and a hope that no-one asks about leg breaks.

A good coach will, at the very least, teach the ability to spin the ball both ways to all young players: Even those who bowl seam up or hate bowling. It can't hurt to have more than one string to your bow and you might uncover a talent.

Early in this process you will look for those who bowl with a spin type action naturally: Some young players will bowl from the back of the hand without encouragement. You will notice others with a smooth run up and pivot uncoached. These are the players to encourage further, but all should at least understand the feel of making the ball turn.

2. Putting potential spinners off

It is often the case that coaches will push a player towards bowling seam up at medium pace rather than spinning the ball. This makes sense in South Africa, New Zealand and England where the pitches, conditions and limited over format of games mean there is a short term gain to this approach.

While there is not much you can do about conditions that don't help spin, you can still do your best to bring spinners through. A young player who is given the confidence to turn the ball as much as possible can become a rare gem: a decent spinner.

When given the choice never put off a player who enjoys spinning the ball: Even if they are a decent seamer too.

3. Not monitoring progress

One of the most powerful tools a coach has is to show players how they are improving. You can show changes in accuracy and turn quite simply. Yet how many coaches test this?

Every now and then, test all your players for accuracy and amount of turn in the nets. This could be as simple as laying down a target on the ground in the nets and another behind the stumps. The more they hit the target the more accurate they are becoming.

You can also use the PitchVision system to track progress in turn, pace, accuracy and flight over time. Imagine how enthusiastic you can help a player become as they see your advice in better results.

4. Not working on the right mindset

At my club we have a young leg spinner who has given up despite an obvious talent. He has taken up some rather average medium pace bowling claiming he doesn't have the mentality of a spinner.

Spinners do need to have a strong mental game as they need to plan more for their wickets (spin strike rates are usually higher than seam). They also have the increased chance of being hit around which can crush confidence.

That means a good coach should start early with spinners helping them to master their art as quickly as possible. Often a coach can focus too much on the technical aspects of a spinners game and forget what is going on in his or her head. If you have a young spinner learning the game, take time to talk them through situations such as:

  • How to experiment with line and length to a player to find their weak areas.
  • Setting a field.
  • Bowling on unhelpful wickets.
  • Dealing with captains who can't handle spinners.
  • What to do if someone goes on the attack.
  • Using variations tactically (especially amount of spin, position on the crease and flight).

As coach you can also teach your spinners how to use positive imagery, set realistic goals and keep confidence high with simple mental training tricks.

The spinner will come across all these problems and more during a career. If their coach has helped them think it through beforehand they are less likely to be crushed under the pressure of the situation.

There you have it. 4 mistakes to avoid as a coach and you will drastically improve your chances of developed decent spinners in a world where spin is a dying skill. Only you can save it, one player at a time.

Image credit: scaglifr

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Good article David. Being a leg spinner I find it frustrating sometimes when the captain won't think about giving me a bowl as he's looking to keep the run rate down rather than get wickets. People seem to forget that spinners are strike bowlers too!

I would also say that being able to spin the ball hard is only one of the attributes you should look for in young potential spinners. The ability to flight the ball and get drift is just as important as turn. As a spinner these two qualities will help you into tricking the batsman more than turning it square.

I agree James. I suppose the distinction I was making is that if you have someone who can rip it you can teach them flight and guile.

Of course David. It amazes me though how many spinners get a lot of wickets without turning the ball much, but by using flight and change of pace (i.e. Kumble and Vettori) they trick and frustrate the batsman out. I love watching those two bowl.

Hi David Im an 11 year old leg spinner and can turn the ball really well, but I tend to give away 2 out of six wides. I need some help with this any ideas. Do you know of a spin coach in the norfolk area?
Many Thanks Spencer

Are you bowling off side or leg side wides Spencer?

A problem like this is usually linked to the angle of your run up. If you are bowling wide of the off stump regularly I find it a great help to widen the angle of the run up gradually until your hitting the right line.

As a leg spin bowler you should be aiming at leg stump, or leg and middle and trying to get the ball to beat the batsman on his off side. Don't be tempted to bowl the same line as a finger spinner.

Great advice James.

Spencer, I don't know of anyone but perhaps any coach in the area reading this could drop me a line on micricketcoach [at] pitchvision .com?

I have only recently taken up leg spin as part of my return to the game but I have found that where you practice can also help. I have been in the astro nets for all sessions except last night at they are a bit soul ripping. Out on the square last night with the half nets was completly different, plenty of turn, room to practice flight, interesting cross wind.

A one hour session really improved my confidence and technique, so I would advise any coach with a young spinner to get them out on the square in training every once in a while.

great tip Steve.

Thanks for all the tips, I am practicing and getting better, I can turn the ball 2 to 3 ft now. And not so many wides.

Hi, i had to make my 12 year old son stop playing cricket who was playing for surrey county as a left arm orthodox and a very good one, because every year different coach told him different things, he useed to come arround the wicket they asked him to come stright he lost his pace and confidence and from a wicket tacker become ordinery bowler even club player startert to wack him out of the park result lost confidance, intrest, misrayble came to the had a panic attack , depress ,accourding to the current coach he has tallent to be the best,what do i do as a father who wants best for him want him to love the game as he did before and becom next bedi/vittori.

Ther eis not much you can do as a father. Be helpful and supportive. As much as possible create an environment where he works out what is best for him. The more he gets different coaching advice the more confusing it can get. If he is passionate he will work the details out himself without a coaching telling him what to do.

hi dave
can you give some tips on how to get your captain to give you more overs.
so you have time to find your ryhthem.
the captain usually takes me off if i get slogged for 1 or 2 boundries

Hello mr. David, this is a great article, helped me a lot.
I am trying to coach my 10 year old cousin in the art of leg spin. Just a while ago he bowled a leg break out of nowhere and bowled a 17 year old batsman out with it, pitching outside leg stump hitting middle stump. He had never been taught this and yet he bowled it like a master in the art of wrist spin! I had a look at his action in a frame by frame video and then compared it to Shane Warne's action. It is exactly the same in every possible way, he even has his little grunt at the point of delivery. He gives the ball a very good flick with his wrist, and it comes out with a 45 degree spin and one time he managed to make it spin at 70 degrees. I showed him how to bowl the top spinner and it took him one ball to bowl the absolute PERFECT dipping, kicking topi!!! I am not the best source of coaching because I am only 4 years older than him, could you please help me to help him because I see a VERY VERY bright future for him as the next great leg spin bowler. He is also an exellent number 3 batsman and probably the best fielder I have ever seen for his age. So could you please help me address some of his problem areas?
thanks a lot Smiling