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Spin Bowling Runup

Spin Bowling Runup

The runup is something that bothers a lot spin bowlers. They just never know how to do it, or if they are getting it right. Many times they will blame their runup for the mistakes.

Let me get one things straight right away. There is no wrong or right runup. In general, off-spinners will have longer run-ups that leggies. But, this is just in general and no rule.

Why? I have no idea (suggestions welcome!). A lot can be said for the fact that Shane Warne had such a short run-up and that leggies have been imitating him for two decades.

Only principles and not rules

With the runup there are only a few principles and not hard and fast rules you must obey.

You need to:

  1. Start: think about what you want to bowl before you start running in
  2. Momentum: build up enough speed to help you drive through the action and over the front foot
  3. Slow down: drop the speed again to help you get into a side on position
  4. Gather: get ready to jump into a side on position
  5. Pivot: back foot parralel to the crease and pivot around the front foot
  6. Action: drive your action with your leading non bowling arm and bowling side hip and shoulder thrusting forward and rotating
  7. Follow through: Momentum must take you a few steps forward and you should be ready to field either on the off or leg side

I will illustrate this with my own runup in the photo sequence below.

You are not suppose to copy this (although you are welcome), but rather read and understand why I do certain things in my runup and what they help with in my bowling.

Go and apply these principles to your own bowling.


Spin Bowling Runup Sequence (3)


Spin Bowling Runup Sequence (4)


Spin Bowling Runup Sequence (5)


Start your run-up with knowing what you want to bowl. Do not start thinking on what you want to bowl halfway through your run-up. As I come up to bowl at the end of a previous over I know what I want to deliver. I do not stand there and wonder.

Of course you might have to change what you bowl depending what the batsman does (advances, steps way, steps across, etc). But the plan and tactic you have thought about before you came on to bowl.

The advantage of this is that you can easily adapt. If you have a delivery in mind that you want to bowl, then to change that to something else is not that hard. For example, the batsman charges you then you change to bowl it wider and slower or quicker down leg.

But, if you have no idea what to bowl and the batman charges you then you will have a million and one ideas in your head and end up not doing anything and just bowling it without a plan.

So, pick your delivery before you start running in.


Spin Bowling Runup Sequence (6)


Spin Bowling Runup Sequence (7)


Now your runup should pick up some speed. It does not matter how quick or slow your runup is, but you need some momentum to carry you through the action.

Relaxed straight run-up works for most bowlers. What I mean by that is do not try and run in at a sharp angle. Straightish runup is good enough.

The sharper the angle is the more difficult it is to turn your body through the pivot. Murali has such a runup, but then again his wrists and body is made of rubber.

You will see in the photo that I hide the ball with my other hand. This is to keep the batsman from seeing when I plan to bowl my arm ball.

It is is agood idea to do this, but certainly not essential. Sunil Narine keeps the ball very open for the batsmen and they still have no clue what he is bowling to them!

It helps, but is not needed.

Slow down

Spin Bowling Runup Sequence (8)

Slow Down

You need to slow down your action to be able to get a gather and jump in. If you just storm through without slowing down then you cannot jump.

And if you cannot jump then you canot pivot. And if you cannot pivot you cannot get spin. Now slowing down = no spin. Get it?


Spin Bowling Runup Sequence (9)


Gather is the part between slowing down and jumping. You are not a quick bowler that just runs and jumps into your action. You need to get side on.

This is what the gather is. It is gathering your body to get into position to jump into your action.


Spin Bowling Runup Sequence (10)


Spin Bowling Runup Sequence (11)


The jump helps you get your body into pistion for the action. You need to land your back foot parallel to the popping crease. now, it does not have to be exact and if it faces forward a little then no worries. But, it helps you get side on to grind against your front foot in the pivot.

Non bowling arm is nice and high and body is almost completely side-on. You cannot have a low front arm at this point.


Spin Bowling Runup Sequence (12)


From a side on position and the front arm thrown forward you can drive through the action. The right hip should come round and help drive the body around the front pivoting foot.

This is just one photo of the pivot, but you can view the whole breakdown of the pivot on this page.


Front Pivoting Sequence (3)

Driving action around the pivot

Spin Bowling Runup Sequence (13)

Driving action with right hip thrust forward

Left arm is driving through and body is rotating around the front foot. Your momentum must take you over the braced front leg.

My landing is deliberately short of the popping crease. That is my personal style. It helps with my quicker ball as my centre of gravity is a bit higeher that way.

Most spinners should have a short stride. A long stride is to be avoided.

Follow through

Front Pivoting Sequence (4)

Follow through

Front Pivoting Sequence (6)

Ready to field in either direction

Run-up is finished and bowler must get ready to field.

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