Haughton Village News

Haughton Village News

Learning to Ring - Rope Handling and Bell Control

For the Bell Ringers 

Most towers have bell ringers all at different stages, from learning how to pull a rope and controlling a bell, through to the most complicated of methods.  I have been involved in teaching our new recruits for as long as I can remember. There are plenty of good books to read that can explain how to do it far better than I can (the yellow one per learner book is a good non-complicated one), however, I find repetition is normally the good way to learn, and so I find myself repeating the DO's and DON'Ts to try and help my learners to achieve a good ringing style.  I've compiled a list below to help them learn away from the tower.  There's a link to this post from the 'Learn to Ring' Page

Learning the Back-Stroke (Rope end):

If you are right-handed then your ringing hand is your right hand, if you are left-handed then your ringing hand is your left.  Your hands should be placed together with your ringing hand above the non-ringing hand. There should be no gap! 


Stand with your feet slightly apart (not too far, so that you are standing stable)

Stand about 2 handspans away from the rope.

Start from a fully stretched position (both hands together - one hand above the other).

Pull all the way down in a straight line, bending your elbows, to keep the rope straight.

Flick the rope with your wists at an imaginary 'X' on the floor.

Pull slightly faster than the bell moves, keeping tension on the rope at all times.

Let the rope pull your arms right up, back to the fully stretched position.

Keep your hands together at all times.


Don't bend your back (keep it straight)

Don't bend your knees

Don't cross your hands over

Don't have a gap between your hands.

Learning the Handstroke (Sally - Fluffy bit)

Start from a fully stretched position (one above the other).

Pull firmly Let go just above waist height (very important)

Let the Sally go up, and let the instructor pull the backstroke,

Catch the Sally about waist height in the position where you let go, then let it take your hands to the fully stretched position.


Don't bend your back

Don't bend your knees

Don't cross your hands over. 

Don't have a gap between your hands.

Learning to put both stokes together

You should be able to ring both strokes with ease and should be able to set the bell at both strokes.

Hold the backstroke in your non-ringing hand, at the bottom of your thumb and index finger. It should be balanced here with your thumb, instead of being griped.

Put your hands (while holding the backstroke) on the Sally.

Firstly, start pulling the Handstroke, transferring the ringing hand to the backstroke (at the bottom), just above the non-ringing hand.

Let the Backstroke lift your hands up to the stretch position. 

Pull down the backstroke, bending your elbows, keeping the rope straight, and aim at a pretend X on the floor by flicking the rope by using your wists. 

(Your instructor may then want to catch the handstroke at this time, and will get you to repeat this stage until you are confident enough to catch the handstroke)

After pulling the backstroke, just reach out at waist height, resting the tailend at the bottom of your non-ringers hand and catch the Sally.

Let the Sally take your hands to the fully stretch position and repeat the process.

You will now need plenty of practice ringing the bell on your own to really feel it and to gain 'bell control'.

Ring your bell balance to balance.

Don't rush each stroke, make as much time as possible.


It doesn't matter how experienced you become, it is always a good idea to keep tabs on your ringing technique. Grab every opportunity to self evaluate yourself, whenever you can.  Below are a few of the bad habits to try and avoid.

1. Holding/ Catching the rope with your hands apart - Keep your hands together, ringing hand above your non-ringing hand.

2. Crossing over your hands - Don't cross over your hands, try and maintain consistency.

3. Transferring your ringing hand to the backstroke (tailend) as it's moving on the way up - Transfer your hand as it is coming off the Sally, and place it directly on the backstroke at the bottom, before the backstroke starts moving. 

4. Not pulling all the way down. - Pull the backstroke all the way down, flick at an imaginary 'X' on the floor.

5. Standing too far away - Always stand in a comfortable position in a way that you can pull the rope straight. 

6. Avoid making a circle with your hands while catching the handstroke - All hand movements should be kept near the rope and in a straight line.  Trying to 'grab' the Sally will result in a 'circular flick' of the rope and in a small ringing circle, this may cause the rope to wander to your next teammate.

More books about bell ringing are available from the Central Council's website:


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