The flipper is bowled on the opposite side to a slider, much in the same way that the top-spinner is bowled. On release, the bowler 'pinches' or clicks the thumb and forefinger, causing the ball to come out underneath the hand. There must sufficient tension in the wrist and fingers to impart a good helping of backspin or underspin. In doing so the flipper will float on towards the batsman and land on a fuller length than he anticipated, often leaving him caught on the back foot when he wrongly assumes it to be a pullable or a cuttable ball. The back spin or underspin will cause the ball to hurry on at great pace with very little bounce, though this may be harder to achieve on softer wickets. A series of normal leg spinners or topspinners, with their dropping looping flight, will have the batsman used to the ball pitching on a shorter length. The batsman may wrongly assume that the flipper will drop and loop like a normal overspinning delivery, resulting in the ball pitching under the bat and going on to either hit the stumps or result in leg before wicket.
Much of the effectiveness of the flipper is attributable to the "pop"—that is, the extra pace and change in trajectory that is imparted to the ball when it is squeezed out of the bowler's hand.
Occasionally, the term 'flipper' has been used to describe other types of deliveries. The Australian leg spinner Bob Holland employed a back spinning ball that he simply pushed backwards with the heel of his palm. Sometimes this form of front-hand flipper is called a "zooter". It is easier to bowl but not as effective as the amount of backspin is much less.
The flipper was the signature delivery of the Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne in his earlier years, until injury and later shoulder surgery restricted his ability to bowl flippers accurately. Like the googly, it may become more difficult to bowl as a bowler ages due to the flexibility and suppleness it demands from the bowler's wrist.
It is difficult to disguise the flipper entirely when bowling, as the hand action is distinctly different from a leg break. When Clarie Grimmett first began bowling the delivery, batsmen would listen for the telltale clicking sound of his fingers; to compensate, Grimmett would often click the fingers of his non-bowling hand when not bowling the flipper to confuse the batsman. Sachin Tendulkar is known to be a good reader of flippers out of the hand of the bowler. He was seldom troubled by Warne's flipper.