I am in the process of transitioning from being a medium pace summer cricket bowler to being a spin bowler in indoor cricket. In particular I'm playing around with some 'caroom ball' style variations. To bowl these well, and indeed any spin bowling style deliveries, a lot of finger and hand strength is needed.

Apart from simply practising bowling, are there any good specific exercises to improve this kind of strength? Ajantha Mendis who has lead the renaissance of this 'caroom ball' style bowling credits his hand strength to the training he received in the Sri Lankan army. What kind of exercises might this have involved?

Edit: For those not familiar with cricket or this style of bowling, the action requires some fingers to pull in (using grip strength) and other to flick out. It is actually the flicking part that needs the most strength, rather than conventional grip strength.

2 Answers 2


I have no idea of cricket (other than some scenes from British movies that didn't help me in any way understanding the rules) and I'm not sure what a bowler does so I don't know how these translate but I do some gripping exercises for martial arts and use basically homemade tools for this.

The easiest to build is a tennis ball. I have one in my office and one at home and just squeeze them. It's the same principle as grippers (spring loaded) but much cheaper.

The other thing I often use is a wrist roller. It's easy to construct since it's one a weight on a string on a stick. So what you do with it is you hold the stick and twist it to wrap the string around the handle to bring the weight up and down. That's basically a wrist exercise but also works hands and fingers.

An other thing that seems to be popular for grip strength are clubs but I haven't tried that so I can't tell you much about them.

What also works for pinching strength is just grip some weight with your pinched fingers so for example grab a filled bottle of water or a dumbbell plate with you fingers by the rim but in a way that you only hold it by pinching you fingers (so no hooking the tip of fingers under a rim or anything) and hold it for a while.

Not sure if that helps or if the Sri Lankan army does any of this.

Edit after clarification:

I don't know of any tool that does provide resistance in a flicking direction. The two options I can think of to add resistance in an outward direction are either to do that motion against a rubber band (which will most likely fly off into your face if you don't find a way to attach it somehow so it can't get off your fingers (maybe sew it to an old glove)). Or do the movement in something like a bowl of sand (wearing gloves if you don't also want to condition your skin) or something similar (high viscosity liquid or something) to add resistance to the movement.

Another edit:

Found a few links on the extension topic: Here is one mentioning a commercial tool for this kind of excercise and showing how to replace it with a piece of thera-band. This one shows an easy way to fix a rubber band for resistance. And here is one realy adding anything new but mentioning the sand bowl method which was just a wild stab in the dark.

I tried the thera band thing and I have to say I have very unbalanced gripping and extension strength...

  • 1
    Thanks. I added a clarification about what kind of strength is needed for those not familiar with cricket. These exercises seems aimed at gripping type strength (which will be useful) but do you have any tips for the reverse action, the flicking out of the fingers? Nov 26, 2012 at 20:28

I'm not too familiar but based on the description I think these could help: In the past I've also used grippers like this.

Which does focus on strengthening grip but specifically allows strengthen individual fingers and for this use case, exercise individualizing the tension. Not sure if that makes sense but for example, most people I've met (myself included right now) can't contract their pinky-finger without also contracting the ring-finger but when I was using it more, I could contract my pinky fully without my ring-finger contracting at all. So being able to work on more discrete dexterity of fingers.

There are also plenty of products similar to this that solely focus on the abduction of fingers.

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