Rock Back

Rock back and setting action

You must have heard coaches and fast bowlers talk about the rock back action in the delivery stride. What is rock back? It is the leaning back of the body just prior to the bowler’s delivering the ball.

At the instance of the back foot landing for the delivery stride, the body leans backward, with the front shoulder at a higher level than the back shoulder. If, at this instant, a vertical line drawn downward from the position of the head falls behind the back foot when it lands, the bowler has a good rock back action. The rock back gives that extra speed to the upper body – the unwinding in the direction of the target thus adding to the nip off the wicket. The next time you watch a match on TV, look for bowlers who have a good rock back and you will observe that those bowlers are deceptively quick.

This is the instant when the bowler’s action is SET. The front arm goes up and high. But arms – both the front arm and the bowling arm – should be close to the body so that body balance is maintained. Keeping the head still, watch the batsman, either over the shoulder or from inside the front arm – depending on whether your action is open or closed, which we shall see later. The front knee is lifted and bent. The front foot is stamped down and at the same instant, the front arm moves forward and with the bending of the elbow is pulled towards the side of the ribs at great speed.


  • Bowler with Side-on action should try to get some rock back to be deceptive and could add pace.
  • But bowlers who have Semi-Open, Open Action should not try to get rock back as it may lead to imbalance at back foot landing and affect control over line and length.
  • The speed of your bowling arm is dictated by the speed of the front arm, and that it follows the front arm.
  • The front arm and the front shoulder first move up and then down in the direction of the target.