How to start bowling leg spin | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

How to start bowling leg spin

Being able to bowl leg spin well is rare quality; if you do that then you are valuable to any captain at any level.

But where do you start?

Good leg spinners seem to need so much; a canny tactical awareness, steely personality, and a phalanx of variations on top of a fizzing, dipping leg break that turns a foot on any wicket.

It’s not as bad as it seems.

Leg spin bowling may be an art, but it’s one that can be learned.

If you are a young bloke who wants to master this art but have little experience, start simple and build up. You can learn some of the secrets of where to begin here.

Before you start

But the first thing you need to do before bowling your first leg break is ask yourself a simple question:

Are you prepared to throw yourself into becoming a leg spinner?

Without passion and dedication to the art you will always be the comedy occasionally leggie who bowls a series of long hops and full tosses interspersed with the odd magic ball from nowhere.

You need to be ready to:
  • Practice longer and harder than anyone else
  • Put up with batsman in the nets and matches slogging you all over the place with no respect
  • Get through the early period of having no control of even your stock ball
  • Deal with unique issues, like the ‘googly syndrome
  • Have captains who don’t understand spinners and under bowl you, or take you off after you get hit for a four.
  • Keep spinning the ball hard, even when things are going wrong.

If you can work your way through all these issue and still love running up and giving the ball a rip then you can call yourself a true leggie.

Welcome to the club. 

The basics of leg spin

So what are the basic rules when you are starting out?

Start by gripping the ball with your fingers across the seam like this:

When you bowl, do it from sideways on and make your wrist and fingers roll over the ball to it spins in the air and turns off the pitch.

You are looking to land the ball, according to the leg spin maestro Shane Warne, 6 feet from the batting crease so the batsman is playing forward but not quite full enough to drive.

Anything too short will give batsman the time to pick it whereas anything too full won’t allow you spin for the batsman will play it before it starts turning.

The best line is the ball pitching on middle and off stump and moving away from the right handed batsman. This line increases the chances of batsman getting an edge.  On turning wickets you may have to bowl middle stump or even middle and leg.

Of course, all this is easy to say but awfully difficult to do.

Fortunately, the answer to how you get the right attitude and technique to bowl accurate, fizzing leg breaks can be found on PitchVision Academy.

Click here to buy the online coaching course Leg Spin for Beginners and Juniors from former first-class leg spinner Muhammad Haroon. It teaches you the essentials of technique, field settings, how to stay committed when things are going badly and has a discussion forum to air your questions to other like-minded leggies.

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Hi David,

how about an article on how a batsman can pick spin bowling / how not be get picked as a spinner? I don't see any articles on this and its a fascinating subject that all batsmen and spinners should have an active interest in.

Cor that's a tricky one. I'll see what I can do.

Great stuff. If you would like my tuppenceworth then I will happily write a couple of paragraphs.

Please do, we always welcome contributions from experienced, passionate readers. You can send them direct to me on micricketcoach at pitchvision dot com.

Check your inbox!

I think helps if you're a bit weird as well, e.g. delusions of individuality and superiority in some way. You've got to be a bit thick skinned and not easily knocked by other people and have an obsessive nature that means that when everything about your bowling is going wrong somehow you still see a light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel. If that's you, then you're probably the type of bloke that could be a wrist spinner, cos unless you're one of a very rare breed it's gonna take some work over a long period and you'll be on your own most likely.

Interesting point with regards the 'How not to be picked'. Generally I don't think there's many club players that are able to do this apart from the Wrong Un as it requires the up-side down hand and the shoulder dip usually, so your whole physical aspect changes a bit. I think over time (years) you're bowling becomes more skillful and smoother and you iron these issues out to some extent and if you explore the miriad of variations that are there for the wrist spinner you revert back to a handful of trusted deliveries. Bob Woolmer in his book the Art and Science of Cricket offers up some research conducted on first class cricketers and their abilities to 'Pick' the ball from the hand and comes up with some interesting stats. Have a look at my blog for the details.........

In essence his conclusion was that the Top-Spinner was highly unlikely to be picked in amongst a series of Leg Breaks.

Another factor is that most Batsman think a Flipper is a big mammal that swims in the sea and therefore wouldn't know a Flipper until it had skidded through and hit their stumps. I think if you put in the years and learn your art you're only going to be bowling 2 or three variations, you have to realise as an aspiring Wrist Spinner your Leg Break on its own comes in three basic varieties and that's without adding the confusion of where on the crease you bowl from, the speed and flight you bowl with, so all in all the thought of worrying about how the balls coming out of the hand is a plus for you as the bowler and it's probably worth having a chat with the bloke at your end who's going to face you and suggest to him quietly that he needs to check your release for the variations!

Growing up in the West Indies, my favorite cricketer was never the likes of Brian Lara, Walsh, or even Ambrose, but Shane Warne, mainly, because I learned to play cricket watching him bowl.

I watched and practiced to bow like him so much, before you knew it, i was ripping the leg break, kids my age could not stand six balls in a game or net practice against me, i never had much coaching, but one day i find myself bowling in the nets and the ball was not going where i wanted it to go, instead of getting leg breaks, the ball was going the other way....GOOGLEY, this was devastating to me, it got so over bearing, i stop bowling completely and give up cricket .

About 5 years later i tried again and it was the same thing, so instead i started bowling off spin, but i longed for the big ripping leg break, i moved from spin to bowling pace, this never worked for me either, so i give up cricket again.

15 years later I come upon this article, wish i was 15 years younger, this would of definitely worked, but none the less I'm now 27. however I would try again and take up cricket once more, jut for the love of the game.

its awesme


In my school days I was a great leg spin bowler and could bowl almost just like Shane Warne, all the variations included. Then I unfortunately stopped playing cricket for about 10 years, and when I returned I totally lost my ability to bowl good leg spin and cannot seem to regain it. I battle on my lengths, and my balls hardly even spin anymore although I put wrist spin on them.
I then gave up and rather became a wicket-keeper and batsman, but now the clubs here in my city have enough keepers and batsmen already so the only way I can get a place in any team is if I regain my leg-spinning abilities that I had at school. I have listened to many videos, read literature, studied and analysed Shane Warne’s action, but I cannot seem to see what I am doing wrong and different from when I was at school and just cannot get to the level I used to be at. And also here in my city, fast bowling is the main thing so there is no real good spinning coaches, especially wrist spin, so I don’t know what to do.
How does your Elite wrist spin program work? Is there any way in which you can maybe help me or a few tips you can give me on how I can become a good leg spinner again. It will be much appreciated as cricket is my passion and I am so sorry that I stopped playing for 10 years but now I want to make a return and want to be good again.
My home address is 3 Nahoon Street, Sherwood, Port Elizabeth, 6025.
My cell number is +27 (0) 82 644 9390 and my e-mail address is
Waiting in anticipation for your reply. Please forward this e-mail to a relevant person who can help if you can’t.

Kind regards.


Hello mr. David
My 10 year old cousin has started to bowl leg spin this year. He has bowled to some of the best batsmen in u/15 and u/17 and has gotten them out. He puts a lot of revs on the ball as I can see it spinning fastly through the air. I compared his action to Shane Warne's action and it is precisely the same even though he hasn't seen him bowl. He bowls quite fast for his age, is a a good number 3 batsman and can take high catches that some 16 year old's can't. He is fairly accurate but needs quality coaching if he is to succeed. Would you help me to coach him please?

my names andrew samson i live cricket got a topbag out of no where fully equipped i gave up cricket was on drugs for seven years and since i accepted the LORD JESUS CHRIST HE GAVE BACK MY DREAM IM CURRENTLY PLAYING FOR VICTORIA IN CAPE TOWN BUT HAV ALSO LOST MY CRICKETING KNOWLEDGE CUD THIS BE A SIGN

Hey Andrew.. that DOES sound like a miracle! Make the most of it!