Harry Shapiro's Leg Spin Primer | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Harry Shapiro's Leg Spin Primer

Leg Spin Coach, and Head of the Leg Spin Association, Harry Shapiro has written this guest article on the basics of leg spin. A great primer for new and experienced bowlers!

The ability to bowl leg spin is a gift which is in the wrist and fingers but in order to develop to his full potential, the bowler needs a sound basic technique just as much as batsman or fast bowler.

Many hours are spent on developing a batsman or fast bowler’s basic technique but as soon as coaches try to coach the correct technique to leg spinners they are accused of "cloning". The main reason that so few leg spinners come through is because they are not taught the correct technique from a young age.

So what is the correct technique for a leg spin bowler.

The most important aspects are balance, body alignment and momentum in the direction of the target.

  1. The Approach. It is important that the approach is in a straight line from the start of the approach to a point where the bowler wants to pitch the ball.
  2. The back foot Landing: Landing in a side on position is vital for correct body alignment. If we look at the three most successful leg spinners of the modern era (and possibly of all time) you will note that they are perfectly side on.
  3. Non-delivery Arm. A powerful extension of the non delivery arm in the direction of the target ensures that the momentum is going forward in the direction of the target.
  4. The delivery process is begun by pulling up with the back hip and pulling down strongly with the non bowling arm
  5. The bowling shoulder rotates up and over (not around) a braced front leg.
  6. The hips and shoulders complete a 180 degree rotation.

The photos below show the complete sequence of a perfect leg spin action. Work hard at perfecting these simple basics and you have every chance of becoming a successful leg spinner.

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I tend to have alot of trouble with getting my line right; the ball spins alot still and the flight is good I just tend to drag them wide to the left quite often (I'm a right arm leg-spin). Any thoughts?

If you're dragging the ball to the left, try ripping it even harder than you are now (and by that I mean you have to put 300% of your effort into ripping the cover off the ball, even if your accuracy suffers) if you get enough revolutions on the ball it will drift into the right handed batsman. So even if tou bowl the ball towards the left it will drift and pitch much closer to the stumps than it otherwise would. And you can actually use this occasional bad ball that you bowl to your advantage! Once you bowled one of them (and it's probably called a wide) bowl a googly on the same spot (can bowl one? If not, I'd suggest practicing it as soon as you've got a decent stock ball with drift, dip and ferocious turn) the batsman has already seen a wide leg break so he won't expect a googly.

You could try that approach or simply work on your accuracy line-wise, by doing lots of target practice (trust me, it works, I can tell you that out of experience) or switching your line to leg stump / outside leg and working on getting your leg break turning massively!

The option I'd go for is trying to drift the ball as much as you can, a straight ball on off stump that turns away is generally less dangerous than an arcing ball that curves in late and turns away. With the extra revolutions you'll get more dip as well! (Resulting in steeper bounce and more pace off the wicket) Just remember that once you start putting all this effort into flicking the ball with tremendous power accuracy will become much harder to achieve. But never sacrifice spin for accuracy. Work hard at spinning the ball as much as you can and then develop accuracy.