PitchVision Coach Education | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Excellent coaching starts with the relentless pursuit of excellence. There is nowhere that this is more important that your own development as a coach.

The world of coaching changes all the time. Theories come and go, some stick because they work. New drills are developed. Old methods are re-examined: the discussion is never ending.

That’s why "Coaching to Win" exists. It’s a place for you to learn about ideas and methods that I have tried and know to work.

It's also a place for you to contribute and discuss your own experiences with coaches around the world.

We are still putting the finishing touches on the place so I recommend you put your name down for updates because we will be regularly adding new content.

Here’s to striving for excellence!

Mark Garaway - Director of Coach Education, PitchVision Academy 

Featured Article

Batting Drill: Graham Thorpe Short Ball Ramp Drill

I had a great pleasure of working alongside England Lead batting coach, Graham Thorpe last week. Graham presented a batting masterclass which covered his approaches to developing quality players of pace and spin.

Thorpey's philosophy to coaching any batter, irrespective of age, was to 'coach back from the challenges of International game'. The first International game challenge that he identified was the fast, short pitched delivery.

Beyond Drills: What, Why, How and Measurement Questions to Aid Player Development

Here at Millfield School, the UK season has drawn to a close. The players have had a few weeks off cricket and are now itching to get back into the cricket bubble and hone their skills for next season.

Over the past week, the coaches at school have been interviewing each player as part of out review and planning process. This guides the players and the coaches (both internally and externally) through a long winter training period.

Follow This Simple Coaching Formula to Remove Weaknesses

Here is a simple coaching formula:

Admiration + Bags of bravery = More coaching knowledge

Chumps to Champs in 12 Months

2015 gave me the most amazing coaching experience of my career.

It was a huge privilege to work with a top group of blokes who taught me heaps about desire, commitment and team-work. All the more incredible given that the average age of the team was 14.

In December 2014 I inherited a team who had lost 70% of their games in the previous season. Feedback from that year centred on a lack of leadership, the selfishness of one or two key players and the general lack of cricketing ability.

12 months on and largely the same of players lifted the England Schools Cricket Association National T20 Cup.

So how did this group of players do it?

Coaching Different Kinds of Leg Spinners

Do you have to have the gift to be a good leg spinner? Or can little bits of spin both ways work?

Terry Jenner, Shane Warne’s bowling mentor, used to call the ability to bowl a big spinning leg break "The Gift". He was absolutely right. However, very few can do it well. That's why we can name all the really Gifted Test leg spinners in about 10 seconds:

Subhash Gupte, Richie Benaud, Bill O'Reilly, BS Chandrasekhar, Abdul Qadir, Stuart MacGill and Shane Warne.

I have deliberately missed out the great Indian spinner Anil Kumble and my mate "Mushy" Ahmed from this list because their "gift" was a different one to that Jenner explained to me in 1998. These two bowl with little bits of spin both ways, always with over spin that creates dip, drift and extra bounce even from the most benign of surfaces. To me they were different types of bowlers to the guys that I listed above.

As you will note, my beloved England, does not feature at all in the Gift List. And we invested significantly to try to identify, then develop one in the early 2000's. It was a fruitless pursuit.

Whilst we have all been looking for the next Shane Warne, I wonder how many Kumble's and Mushtaq's we have missed.

Have our minds and coaching eyes been side-tracked by the search for the elusive Gift?

How Direct Competition Makes Selection Simple

England travel to the UAE in a few weeks to take on Pakistan in an environment that has been very good to Misbhar-ul-Haq's Test team. The conditions will force England to have to pick a 2nd spinner to support Moeen Ali. This is likely to be the multi-talented Adil Rashid.

Some would see the selection of Adil as direct competition to Moeen. Some will say that Ali has been England's only spin option for just over a year and a half and now he has a direct threat.

However, I don't see it like that at all. To me, this is both Moeen's and England's biggest opportunity to take the World of Test Cricket by storm.

To me he is a fantastic batter who can bowl well as opposed to a front line Test spinner who can counter-attack with the bat from number eight. Ultimately, England could be accused of wasting his talent batting so low when their top and middle order have not always been firing.

The inclusion of a second spinner provides England with an opportunity to leave one of the inconsistent batters out and to push Moeen up the order. Then slot the capable Rashid in at number eight.

The English press are speculating that Ali should open the batting with Captain Cook but I would resist that option as I don't see it being a long term option.

Alex Hales should be given a chance to open up with the bat with Ali at five. Ali is a developing player against spin and an excellent player of fast bowling when it isn't directed at his head. I know that he is working hard on this aspect of his game.

The UAE wickets will suit him as the bounce is not excessive. However, opening the batting in South Africa would expose him to a new ball and two fantastic bowlers - Steyn and Morkel - on bouncier wickets than in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

I know what you are going to say, why would he have to open in South Africa as England will only need one spinner over there?

What the Ashes Taught Us about Playing Swing and Seam Bowling

2015 was a very odd Ashes. When the ball swung significantly England won. When the ball didn't swing for long periods Australia compiled heavy first innings scores and won as a result of scoreboard pressure.

Only 6 batters (Root, Rogers, Warner, Smith, Cook and Ali) averaged over 30 in the series. Cook and Rogers are Test match specialists, Warner adapted his method during the series, Smith and Root swapped over as World number one batters and there is a good chance that England's number 8 in this series will open the batting in the next one!

Other than these players, there were a lot of "walking wickets" on show in the series. Especially when either side got the ball to move laterally. As coaches, we have a huge role to play in the development of cricketers who have the skills to cope with balls that swerve in and out and also deck off of the pitch.

This comes in the technical wisdom that we impart on the players and also in the way that we expose the batters to tough conditions and to swinging balls.

Technically, when the ball swings, the feet have a tendency not to move.

Jos Buttler showed this in the last couple of test matches. His only method was to try and save himself with his excellent hand to eye coordination. But even that wasn't enough in tough batting conditions.

So what could Jos do to prepare himself for lateral moving conditions in the future?

How to Use "Britain's Got Talent" to Boost Your Batting Talent

Here's a brilliant batting drill based on a TV show.

First the back story: I ran a session this week with four cricketers from school who haven't played a great deal over the summer holidays. One of the players in the session has made huge progress this year.

How England Smashed my Ashes Prediction for Six

A few weeks ago I predicted a comfortable Australia victory in the 2015 Ashes. Most of the cricketing world, including England Captain Alastair Cook didn't think that his inexperienced side could beat mighty Australia.

How have England beaten the odds? And what can we learn from it?

Cut down Old Cricket Bats to Gain Match Day Precision

I spent the weekend heading up the Cricket Zone at SportFest15 in the grounds of the glorious Wormsley Estate. 1000's of children were coached by Sporting legends over the two day festival.

The Cricket zone had 6 areas including the PitchVision net manned by Andrew Strauss and Simon Jones.

Another section is called "bowl at Hoggy's Stump". In 2014, England legend, Matthew Hoggard batted for 2 days in a net armed only with a stump. The children loved it, so did Hoggy!

This year we upgraded the stump to a middling bat.