Why bowling no balls is like smoking | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Why bowling no balls is like smoking

This post is inspired (with permission) by Ian Pont's Fast Bowler's Bible. Click here to pick up a copy.

Just like smoking, you shouldn't bowl front foot no balls.


Neither habit is very good for you. That is scant consolation if you do find your foot stepping over the line though. Like a nicotine addict you find the harder you try to stop the harder it becomes. It starts to become an unbreakable habit.

Nobody understands how difficult it is.

Luckily, unlike smoking, your no ball problem can be eliminated in a few short practice sessions.

The truth about no balls

There are two main reasons for a no ball to be bowled.

  1. You are trying to get the extra yard of pace and overstep in your excitement
  2. You have a poor run up

The truth is that to make any significant impact on the batsman's perception of your pace you would need to bowl with your back foot over the line, not just your front foot.

It might feel like you are getting every last inch of pace by getting close to the line, but it's wasted effort. Even if you didn't overstep. So you need to reset your thinking, even when bowling at top pace.

Sorting out your run up

Start by making sure your run up is smooth and consistent right up to the crease.

The best way to deal with this is during practice. Start your practice session by marking your run up. Start at the bowling crease and run backwards towards the sightscreen until you feel ready to bowl then mark out the distance.

Fast bowling legend Dennis Lillee recommends you mark the distance with normal walking strides as these vary very little.

Try your run up a few times in the nets to make sure this feels comfortable and smooth in your approach. Get someone to watch your approach and front foot to make sure you are not stuttering or overstepping.

Landing behind the line

Ideally, the toes of your boots will touch the front line as you bowl. This gives you a foot worth of misjudgement before you overstep.

Do this in practice as much as you need to get it right.

You should never bowl no balls in practice as it simply reinforces bad habits.

If you are still having trouble staying behind the line you can aim to land your front foot anywhere between the back and front line. This gives you a large box area to land instead of a small line. You can see this depicted below as a white box (click to enlarge).

No ball landing zone

As we have learned, landing a little bit behind the line is not going to effect the batsman's perception of your speed.

Practice, practice, practice

When you have found a comfortable method, practice it until you can do it every time.

The practice it some more.

You can't practice enough. It's best to start without a batsman to get the feel and to groove your muscle memory before adding the pressure of trying to get someone out.

So get out there and get practicing.

If you have tried this method please leave your feedback in the comments section.


© Copyright miSport Holdings Ltd 2008


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Luckily I've never had a problem with no-balls (so far at least), but this is probably because I worked out my run-up using the above method from the time I started bowling. In practice or in games I'll often mark out my run-up and then give myself an extra foot behind it - then if I find myself short I can start a bit closer to the mark, and so on until I'm as close to the line as possible. It means that if you get the jitters early on you have some leeway.

I hate bowling no balls (and wides), it's much for the fact that I have to bowl an extra ball as giving away the runs.

They are a total waste of effort and very easy to stamp out, just takes a little bit of work in practice.

Like Edladd, I give myself a little bit of room at the crease and can always adjust by a few inches if needed, simple yet effective.

bowling no balls as a spinner off a 2 foot run up is unaceptable!

Bowling no balls ever is unacceptable!

Brett Lee should view this article!

I have problems with no ball. I thinks its for poor run-up. my run-up is big. for that icant balance. I am trying to make my run-up well. can anyone suggest me about my run-up?

I had a no ball problem but its getting better now. The above method didn't really work for me and I think that's because of my big bowling jump(my action is very similar to Imran Khans). I'd like to suggest to shuvohabib to mark where he should jump from and jump from there. It's working for me.

I'm a 16 year old leg spinner with a big problem.
I bowl no balls all the time I can't help it.
No matter where I take off from I still find myself overstepping by a lot.
I filmed myself bowling and my stride looks way to big but I don't know how to fix it .

I know spinners should never bowl no balls but I just can't help it
Please help