Crash Mat Spin Bowling | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Crash Mat Spin Bowling

As you may be aware, I love working with Spinners, especially leg-spinners. I’m lucky to be able to work with a few Leggie’s which includes 14 year old Michael.


I think that the shift from U13 Cricket into U14 Cricket is one of the most difficult transitions that a spinner can face. They move from 21 yard pitches to 22 yards and have to do this when using a ball which is bigger and heavier than the one that they used the previous season.

No wonder the ECB and Cricket Australia are adapting their practice to incorporate shorter pitches to enhance skill development in younger players.

I see many leg spinners at this age muscling the ball down the other end of the extended pitch which takes most if not all of the previously acquired skill out of the young bowler.

As a result of this, I have challenged myself to help young spinners to develop stronger actions which then give their fingers and wrists the opportunity to do the job that is intended (spinning the ball) rather than adding more “ooommmpppphhhh” to help the ball get down the other end.

The best way that I have found to achieve this is by asking the bowlers to run up and bowl on soft crash mats. Despite looking a bit odd, the drill really works a treat.

In this case, I decided to create instability under Mike’s feet on deep crash mat which overloads his technique and encourages adaptation by increasing stress and physical challenge.

The increased level of stress encourages the body and the brain to facilitate change, encouraging accelerated skill adaptation and progression.

The video demonstrates the process that we went through the other day. Mike was a little labored in his early deliveries, he was finding it difficult to generate sufficient energy and momentum towards his target.

Whilst we were focusing on the process (with him bowling into the net) rather than the outcome of the ball landing and reacting off of a surface), Mike reported back to me that he didn’t feel as if he was creating a huge number of revolutions on the ball.

So after showing him the first couple of Slo-motion videos, I dragged a couple of crash mats over to the net and asked him to repeat his process bowling drill into the net on the crash mats.

This implicit drill worked wonders for Mikes energy through the crease. The way he used his legs, torso and shoulders to “bowl” rather than “muscle” the ball was pleasing to see.

England Lead Fast Bowling Coach Kevin Shine is a big fan of this way of coaching his fast bowler. Kev looks to create problems to develop the need for the bowler to solve the problem. This is exactly what we are doing here with Michael and his leg spin.

The video shows excerpts from Just 20 minutes of one session. We will be continuing with crash mat bowling as part of Michaels drill routine tomorrow morning. The the intention is to monitor how Mike uses his action to support his wrist and fingers as he rotated them around the ball into release when bowling on the crash mats. We will then compare the action on the mat to his one when he is bowling on the gym floor.

Finally, once we are happy with his action we will put a mat on the floor and check out how Mikes action, flight and spin loom over the 22 yard pitch.

I’m hoping that his action will be strong and his wrist can concentrate on making the ball spin rather than helping the ball make the “adult” distance!

I shall keep you posted with Mike’s progress in the coming weeks.

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