[[Image:Cricket Grip fast.png|frame|right|
The first thing a fast bowler needs to do is to grip the ball correctly. The basic fast bowling grip to achieve maximum speed is to hold the ball with the seam upright and to place the index and middle fingers close together at the top of the seam with the thumb gripping the ball at the bottom of the seam. The image to the right shows the correct grip. The first two fingers and the thumb should hold the ball forward of the rest of the hand, and the other two fingers should be tucked into the palm. The ball is held quite loosely so that it leaves the hand easily. Other grips are possible, and result in different balls - see swing and seam bowling below. The bowler usually holds their other hand over the hand gripping the ball until the latest possible moment so that the batsman cannot see what type of grip he or she is employing and prepare accordingly.
A fast bowler needs to take a longer run-up toward the wicket than a spinner, due to the need to generate the momentum and rhythm required to bowl a fast delivery. Fast bowlers will measure their preferred run up in strides and mark the distance from the wicket. It is important for the bowler to know exactly how long his or her run-up is because it needs to terminate at the [[popping crease]]. If the bowler steps over this, he or she will have bowled a [[no ball]].
At the end of the run-up the bowler will bring his or her lead foot down on the pitch with the knee as straight as possible. This aids in generating speed but can be dangerous due to the pressure placed on the joint by this action. [[Knee]] injuries are not uncommon amongst fast bowlers: for example the [[England cricket team|English]] pace bowler [[David Lawrence (cricketer)|David Lawrence]] was sidelined for many months after splitting his [[kneecap]] in two. The pressure on the leading foot is such that some fast bowlers cut the front off their shoes to stop their toes from being injured as they are repeatedly pressed against the inside of the shoe. The bowler will then bring their bowling arm up over their head and release the ball at the height appropriate to where they want the ball to pitch. Again, the arm must be straight although this is a stipulation of the [[laws of cricket]] rather than an aid to speed. Bending the elbow and "chucking" the ball would make it too easy for the bowler to aim accurately at the batsman's wicket and get them out.
[[Image:Mitchell Johnson.jpg|200px|right|thumb|[[Mitchell Johnson (cricketer)|Mitchell Johnson]] bowling. Note the "slinging" action.]]
Fast bowlers tend to have an action which leaves them either side-on or chest-on at the end of the run up. A chest on bowler has chest and hips aligned towards the batsman at the instant of [[back foot contact]], while a side on bowler has chest and hips aligned at ninety degrees to the batsman at the instant of back foot contact. West Indian bowler [[Malcolm Marshall]] was a classic example of a chest on bowler, while Australian pace bowler [[Dennis Lillee]] used a side on technique to great effect.
While a bowler's action does not affect the speed at which they bowl, it can limit the style of balls that they can bowl. Although not hard and fast rules, side on bowlers generally bowl [[outswinger]]s, and front on bowlers generally bowl [[inswinger]]s.
A variant on the fast bowler's action is the sling (sometimes referred to as the slingshot or javelin), where the bowler begins his delivery with his or her arm fully extended behind their back. The slinging action generates extra speed, but sacrifices control. The most famous exponent of the slinging action is [[Jeff Thomson]], who bowled at extraordinary pace off a short run up. Current internationals who employ a slinging action include [[Fidel Edwards]], [[Shaun Tait]], [[Lasith Malinga]] and [[Mitchell Johnson (cricketer)|Mitchell Johnson]].
[[Image:Matthew Hoggard bowl.jpg|200px|left|thumb|[[Matthew Hoggard]] begins his follow-through in training.]]
After the ball has been released, the bowler "follows through" at the end of his or her action. This involves veering to the side so as not to tread on the pitch and taking a few more strides to slow down. Striding on to the pitch at the end of a delivery can damage the surface resulting in rough patches which [[spin bowling|spin bowlers]] can exploit to get extra turn on the ball; doing so is illegal according to the laws of the game. Bowlers who persistently run onto the pitch can be warned, with three warnings disqualifying a bowler from bowling again during the [[innings]].