As you know, we have been running a series of coaching events across England called PitchVision Academy Live!
Along the way I have met many club, school and University coaches/players and shown them how they can improve their game. Today I want to give you a flavour of what that is like by following my day at Chelmsford.
Up early to get to the train on time. Lucky my devilish good lucks hide those bleary eyes.
Arrive at the Ford County Ground in Chelmsford, home of Essex CCC, armed with a large coffee and a bucket of enthusiasm. Everyone else is caught in traffic, which is somewhat of a dampener to my ‘rah rah let’s go’ spirit. I admire the empty ground bedded down for winter in the way only a cricket tragic can.
The vans have arrived and setup begins. It takes about an hour to unload and get the three PitchVision systems ready. We also setup all the decor, plasma screens, radio microphones, cameras, goody bags and so on.
We are getting pretty slick at setting up and things go smooth enough, apart from our event coordinator getting stuck in Chelmsford rush hour traffic with all the paperwork and arriving late. Even then, the efficiency of the PitchVision team seamlessly filled the gap.
Our corporate boys are suiting up. I’m standing at the reception desk saying “The players will start arriving soon” when a player walks in the door. We book him in and while he waits for more people we start the warm up game – a practice on the PitchVision fielding system.
More players start to filter in, all in their commemorative “PitchVision Academy Live!” t-shirts and busting to get started. They join the warm up game and I tell them to get all the practice they can as it starts to count at 11!
The event begins with an opening ceremony and the players splitting into groups to get coaching on batting or bowing.
Standards are varied, but everyone is enthusiastic and looking forward to testing their skills on PitchVision. I’m doing the bowling coaching and there are a number of things I notice:
- Most bowlers don’t know the importance of the hips in creating power. It was very common to see players trying to force more pace with the upper body leaving the hips to follow rather than driving through. Players who picked this up quickly made a significant difference in speed.
- The front arm is more important than the bowling arm but players tended to focus more on their bowling shoulder and arm. A better focus on driving the front arm out and down in a straight line helped improve accuracy.
- A lot of seamers were aiming at quite a full length. This is probably the result of slow, low club wickets, but I’m convinced length can be dragged back a bit in many players allowing movement off the seam. This would work especially well if players added more pace with an effective hip drive.
- Club bowlers don’t do enough target practice. Hardly any bowler I spoke to did net bowling without a batsman. Yet target practice is crucial to a bowler’s skill development at any age. I showed the bowlers some drills they could do if they can convince the rest of the team at nets to have a batsman-free net.
Haris from Pro Coach is doing a great job in the batting net.
The players have a well deserved break for a banana and some water. I get a chance to chat to cricket performance polymath Liz Ward who I had only ever spoken to online or via telephone previously. This is exactly why I love doing the live events.
I also chat to some of the players about the technology in use. The bowlers seem especially keen to be able to track their pace and accuracy at club nets. For me this is a total no-brainer for any cricket team with ambition. If you want your bowlers to be more accurate, PitchVision tracks it and exposes the good and bad. As a coach that is a million time more valuable than trying to remember how everyone did from week to week.
We wrap up the day with a fielding final where the best 6 fielders compete using PitchVision-fielding for a star prize. I joke that it’s a gold Rolls-Royce. No one laughs. I make a note to not use the same joke in Birmingham.
After a quick final presentation the players filter off with handshakes and words of thanks.
Everything is packed up and we head off home, very tired but pleased with a job well done. You can see a video of the day here.