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

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.

How to Coach Confidence and Reduce Anxiety

Nomaan sent in a great question to the Pitchvision Cricket Show last week. It revolved around his lack of confidence, increased anxiety levels and being unable to transfer his considerable practice skills into a match context.

Ultimately he had lost "that loving feeling" for the game.

Drills to Improve Playing Fast Bowling

England's disarray against fast bowling at Lord's was not a surprise to those who have watched them closely over the years.

Despite Lords being a very good batting track, England seemed clueless against the fast bowling onslaught in the 4th innings.

Australia shifted their length of attack to push the batters back and then pitched the ball fuller to bring the stumps in or get the edge. The classic combination of short, short, full. The same combination that undid them in Australia 18 months ago.

So what can be done in this situation?

Here are some drills.

Name That Tune: Can Music Fast Track Performance?

In last week's spin orientated article, I mentioned a comment that Glenn McGrath made about singing a song inside his head as he was running up to bowl. It was inspiring and reassuring to hear a great of the game talk about this as we use music a lot when working with players at Millfield School.

How to Prepare for Bowling into the Rough

One of the features of this Ashes series will be the battle between spinner and batters as the rough patches develop rapidly through each Test match. The weather in the UK has been (relatively) dry for months. The pitches are drier than usual for this time of year.

The Australian left arm seamers will help the rough patches to degrade at an accelerated rate outside the right handed batters off stump. This shall bring Moeen Ali and Nathan Lyon into the game earlier as attacking forces. It is likely that the Stokes, Anderson, Broad and Wood will bowl some overs around the wicket at David Warner, if he stays in long enough. This will also add wear and tear to that rough area.

The developing rough isn't just a problem for the batter. It also creates challenges for the keeper and the bowler as well. I know what you're saying; "Test match spinners shouldn't be challenged by the rough? It should be all their dreams come true!"

For bowlers such as Murali or Warne the rough represented opportunity. For most spinners, the developing footholds can represent a threat.

This threat is the pressure of expectation.

Taking Out Cogs: How England Can Win the Ashes

If you can identify the most important cog and mess up the way it moves and operates, you will force the other team to adapt their plans and their performance.

One example of this is the Australians. The men from down-under always target the opposition captain on the other team. They single him out, and disrupt his influence on the team. As the 2015 Ashes approach, the obvious next question is this,

Should England be targeting Michael Clarke?

Of course!

The aim will be to get the ball into Clarke's armpit early on with a short leg and leg slip or leg gully. If he feels threatened upstairs his foot movement to fuller balls is compromised. He is vulnerable to an edge to slip or to a ball coming back through the gate.

It's a great example of a specific tactic. Clarke is a big cog in the Aussie machine. He's also not the most important cog. There is another name on the 2015 team sheet that needs closer attention.

Nathan Lyon.