Cricket Bowling Tips: Fast Bowling / Controlling Swing

by Abhimanyu

Dale Steyn: Setting The Angle Of The Seam

Dale Steyn: Wrist Cocked For An Away Swinger

Dale Steyn: Wrist Cocked For An Away Swinger

I am 15 years old and am having some problems with controlling swing when I am bowling. I don’t grip the ball to bowl swing but the new ball swings, sometimes inswing and sometimes outswing, without my knowing.

So sir please can you help me to control it.
I bowl in the first spell and with the new ball.


Hi Abhimanyu, this is a common problem for young bowlers who are bowling with the new ball. Even first class cricketers can have days when the ball swings erratically and is difficult to control.

The lovely thing is, that by accident you have discovered how to swing the ball both ways, now you need to control it.

Swing bowling is controlled by your bowling hand, to be precise, it is how you set the ball in your bowling hand and the angle of the seam. The seam is the ‘rudder’ that controls the balls flight and swing.

Dale Steyn is currently the best swing bowler in the world, have a look on YouTube at footage of Dale, he has a fantastic bowling action for young bowlers to copy.

You can also check out a clip of Dale setting up and dismissing Ian Bell in a test match. Copy and paste this link into your browser.

Cricket Bowling Tips: Dale Steyn Dismisses Ian Bell

Some simple fast bowling tips to help you …

1. Set the ball in your hand correctly, like Dale Steyn has done in the main photo on this page. Put your first and second fingers on top of the seam and your thumb on the seam below.

Practice flicking the ball up in the air, so that the ball spins backwards, with the seam staying straight up. This is the reverse of the wrist action for swing bowling, it helps you to develop the ‘feel’ of controlling the wrist action and how tight or loose you need to hold the ball to control the seam, the goal is to make it spin up without the the seam wobbling.

2. With a partner, stand 5 yards apart, hold your elbow with your none bowling hand, flick the ball to your partner with your wrist. The goal is to keep the seam up straight and with the ball spinning backwards.

3. With your partner, stand 10 yards apart, in a standing position, bowl the ball to your partner ( don’t let it bounce ) with the seam up, no wobbling. You’ll learn to control the ‘feel’ and wrist action with these drills.

4. Away Swing: Cock your wrist up ( grip as described above) and angle your bowling hand slightly to first slip, ( not straight) this sets the angle of the swing. Bowl this gently to your partner, you’ll see the ball starts to swing ( for a right arm bowler ) from right to left. Make sure your bowling hand sweeps across your body past your left hip.

5. In Swing: Turn the seam slightly toward fine leg and put your thumb on the outside of the seam, this allows your wrist to ‘soften’ and release the ball with a flick so that the bowling hand can now sweep down and through past your right hip. Remember to play around with this, develop the feel of these deliveries.

5. Cross Seam: If the ball is swinging prodigiously and you can’t control it, hold the ball across the seam , this will stop the swing and allow you to bowl straight. This helps to settle yourself and get a line and length going, you can then go back to your normal grip later and work on bowling your away or in-swing.

This is also used to rough the ball up for reverse swing.

6. Tape Ball Swing.
Try taping up one half of a tennis ball to practice playing with the swing in the nets, this is how many of the great Pakistani fast bowlers mastered their arts.Turn the ball around and experiment with it.

Be patient, swing bowling is an art, play with the ball and experiment to find what works for you.

Happy Fast Bowling, Coach

Richard Pybus

About Richard Pybus

I'm Richard Pybus, I've coached Pakistan, Bangladesh, Middlesex, Titans and the Cape Cobras in South Africa and the goal of this site is to help you to play winning cricket.