Pitchvision Academy
Animated Fielding Drills Get Fit For Cricket


I’ll be brutally honest and say injury prevention is not a glamorous subject. I hardly ever find myself chatting to a player after a day in the field about the importance of serratus anterior function in shoulder health.

But unexciting doesn’t mean unimportant.

Coaches and players need to know the basics to avoid injuries that are easy to prevent. So we cover those this week in a simple guide for coaches (and players).

Plus we compare your body to an F1 car, teach you how to be a better fine leg and give you an often overlooked ‘simple’ fielding drill that can be adapted to any skill level.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

The coaches guide to preventing injury in fast bowlers

You are a cricket coach, not a strength and conditioning expert. But I don’t care how good your bowling coaching is.  

You want your bowlers to be able to make it on the park every week. And that means at least a basic understanding of modern injury prevention strategies. And that’s true whether you coach 10 year olds, adults or anyone inbetween.

It’s not enough anymore to know what a mixed action is and to stick to the fast bowlers guidelines. Sure, that’s where we start.

But let’s get serious.

Preventing injury in the warm up

As a coach, nobody would expect you to stand over your bowlers in the gym, or turn net sessions into military style boot camps. You are there to help your bowlers be fast, accurate and game savvy.

But you can do some basic work as part of the warm up.

Just make sure the players understand why they are doing these movements so they can continue with them during their gym sessions or when they are working with other, less savvy, coaches.

We can break the movements down into the ones that most need strengthening or mobilising to reduce the chance of injury.

These are:
Core stability

There is a lot talked about core stability in cricket. It’s not a magic pill that solves all injury problems as it is often billed, but it is important in preventing lower back pain and injury.

In my mind the key to core stability in cricket is your ability to maintain a healthy position of the spine while you are moving. Think of it as a way to stop a mixed action (where the spine is twisted).

As a result of this, we are not interested in sit ups or crunches because you are moving the spine, not keeping it still.

Instead we look at core stability as a coaching progression, learning one step before moving on to the next (/and easy to teach during a warm up):

  1. Plank variations. Start young cricketers with a simple plank, side plank and glute bridge. Be strict on form (don’t sink or raise the hips) and gradually increase the time until you get to a minute. Don’t linger on planks though, move quickly to the next exercise.
  2. Anti rotation/flexion. Invest in resistance bands and teach the pallof press in the warm up. A set or 2 of 9-10 reps is plenty.
  3. Power production. Up until this point, it’s all been about teaching the body the right program for keeping the spine in place. This final step increases the amount of power you can produce with your whole body while keeping spine rotation to a minimum. Do this with med ball throws (if you can afford them) or at a pinch use clap push ups.

The key is not to destroy your bowler’s abs in the warm up, just to teach them the muscle memory it takes to keep the spine in a healthy position while bowling.

Hip mobility

You don’t hear about many hip-related injuries in bowlers, but immobile or weak muscles around the hips cause the lower back muscles to try and compensate for the weakness. This means preventable pain for the bowler.

However, hips are a complicated area and a lot can go wrong which is difficult to identify and correct. As a coach you don’t need to get into it, stick to general mobilisation drills and cross your fingers

There are about a thousand safe drills for improved hip mobility and you can do almost any of them as part of a general warm up. As a guideline, you can’t go wrong with any lunge variation. Get the bowlers moving through a wide range of motion and feeling the stretch in their hips and groin area.

Make sure the movements are dynamic (i.e. you are not holding the stretch for more than 1-2 seconds) and form is perfect.

Scapulothoracic strength

Don’t run off, this is simpler than it sounds. It prevents shoulder injuries.

The scapulothoracic joint is a joint in the shoulder that is stabilised by several muscles of the back. Because of the way we play and train, these muscles are normally weak. This causes an imbalance in the body that increases injury risk.

A few quick exercises in the warm up go a long way to correcting this:

Rotate through the exercises and do 1-2 sets of 8-12 reps every warm up.

Shoulder mobility

If the scapulothoracic joint needs to have its muscles strengthened, the glenohumeral joint needs to be mobile (that’s the ball-and-socket joint we think of as the shoulder). Again, it’s a simple job. Just give the shoulder some mobility attention:

A couple of sets should do the job nicely, the key is to do the movements with high quality and as often as possible.

All this should take about 5-10 minutes and then you can move to more cricket specific warm ups before starting your session. It’s simple, effective and easy to do.

But most importantly, it will help prevent injuries in your bowlers.

Discuss this article with other subscribers

The Formula 1 guide to cricket match day preparation (part 1)

Picture in your mind a Ferrari Formula 1 car: Strikingly red, super sleek and powerful.

When the Ferrari team arrive at a track for a race the car is ready to do its job of going round a track at breakneck speed. 90% of the work is done far away from race day.

But over the course of several days and trips round the track, the team fine-tune the car to the specifics of the race. The engine is tuned, the aerodynamics is tweaked, and fractions of seconds are shaved from lap times.

It’s this last 10% that is the toughest, because it makes the most difference.

And when it comes to cricket, you are the car and your match day preparation is the fine-tuning.

Like that Ferrari, all the tuning in the world is going to make no difference if you arrive with a bad car in the first place. But if you have trained well, the final hours and minutes before you see your own green light are the difference between winning and losing.

What does this tuning look like?

There are 4 areas you need to think about as the game approaches.

Get in a routine

Whether we are conscious of it or not, we all go into a match in a certain mental state. This could be anything from hyped up as an opening bowler to calmly focused as a top order batsman.

It can also be negative: flat in the field, distracted, even hung over.

And it all starts from the moment we get up. Long before the first ball is bowled.

Good players are aware of what works best for them and how to achieve control on the morning of the match. The key is to have a set routine.

Routine works because it gives you a feeling of control. You are not stressed by surprises like finding you are missing a boot 5 minutes before you have to go out and field.

But everyone is different so there are no rules for what this routine should be.

Some players thrive on order and will want a very precise routine for everything from how the kit is packed to what warm up drills they do. Others will be more laid back. Whatever your own opinions, don’t forget their may be team rules to consider too.

However, as long as you feel in control with an uncluttered mind then your mental preparation is on track.

Some simple tricks to help you get in the right place are:

  • Having a checklist that covers equipment, food and drink that you need to take to the match, when you need to leave and other practical matters.
  • Knowing what warm up exercises and drills you want to perform before play.
  • Reviewing your goals for the match and season
  • Visualising success by standing in the middle and thinking about how you will get your wickets and runs
  • Thinking about how conditions will change your tactics
  • Looking at cue cards
  • Paying attention in the team talk

None of these are vital to your success, but getting your head right is and if these tools help you get there then they are doing a job. So experiment with them and if they work, make them part of your routine.

You are what you eat

Thinking back to our Ferrari, the Italian car-makers wouldn’t put bad fuel into the engine on race day. You shouldn’t put bad fuel into yourself on match day either.

Apart from the long term benefits of feeling better, having less fat and more muscle, a well fuelled body keeps the fatigue away longer.

That’s vital for the closing moments of a crucial match.

But eating right is a combination of factors that are more than just what you eat, and any eating rules you follow are only as good as your ability to stick to them 90% of the time. F1 cars never have a sneaky sip on inferior fuel.

I have faith in you though.

So here is what research says you should eat on the day of the match:

  • Eat whole foods that are as unprocessed as possible (eggs, meat, vegetables, fruit, fish, nuts, etc.)
  • Don’t worry about ‘carbing up’. It’s perfectly reasonably to eat starchy carbohydrates from whole food sources (rice, quinoa, potatoes, beans, oats) but there is no need to go mad. You’re not running a marathon.
  • Breakfast on a meal rich in nutrients, especially protein. Never skip it.
  • Remember processed food like bread, pasta, cakes and chips are not ideal sources of nutrients. They are not banned from your diet but should make up 10% or less of what you eat in a week (let alone on a match day).
  • Eat at regular intervals, ideally every 2-3 hours.
  • Have your last meal before the match starts 1-2 hours before play begins.
  • Eat during the tea and lunch intervals, ideally with whole foods.
  • During the match feel free to take in ‘liquid energy’ in the form of a drink that combines protein and carbs (example: chocolate milk) if you are involved in play (i.e. Not just waiting to bat).

If you find these ideas hard to follow you won’t be the first. Eating habits are notoriously difficult to change alone. That’s why I recommend Precision Nutrition to help you through it. It’s perfect for cricketers at any level (I know because I tried it over 3 years ago and I’m still sticking with it).

In part 2 we will go on to look at the final moments before the game. Get the free newsletter to get the article delivered directly to your inbox. 

Discuss this article with other subscribers

Fielding Drills: Catching competition

This drill is part of the PitchVision Academy fielding drills series, for more in this series click here.

Purpose: A warm up routine that gets the hands and eyes ready for more advanced close catching drills. It also allows a coach to make changes to technique where needed.  

Description:  Players stand in pairs opposite each other as shown in the diagram below. The ball is thrown underarm to each other at knee level. The pair that completes the most catches in a set time (usually a minute) is the winner.

Variations: Take away the competitive element and make the catching harder (lower catches or dives).

Discuss this article with other subscribers

Specialist fielding: Fine leg and third man

This is part of the specialist fielding series of articles, for the full list of fielding positions covered click here.

OK I admit it. There are no specialist fine leg fielders. But in most teams it’s the same players who end up at either fine leg or third man, usually a bowler.

For that reason it makes sense to practice the skills you will most need.

Free cricket drills from Inspired Cricket

Great news for all fans of cricket coaching drills: We have been given a bucketful to give away by the very kind guys at Inspired Cricket.

The drills cover 12 areas for all ages including:

  • Warming up
  • Agility training
  • Fielding
  • Net ideas
  • Wicketkeeping

All produced in the innovative style that has made Inspired the talk of cricket coaching circles.


About PitchVision Academy

Welcome to this week's guide to playing and coaching better cricket.

I'm David Hinchliffe and I'm Director of the PitchVision Academy team. With this newsletter you are benefitting directly from over 25 Academy coaches. Our skills include international runs and wickets, first-class coaching, cutting-edge research and real-life playing experience.


Take a tour
Want Coaching?

Send to a Friend

Do you have a friend or team mate who would be interested in this newsletter? Just hit "forward" in your email program and send it on.

If you received this email from a friend and would like to get subsequent issues, you can subscribe here.


PitchVision Academy

irresistable force vs. immovable object

Thank you for subscribing to PitchVision Academy.
Read more at www.pitchvision.com


To unsubscribe eMail us with the subject "UNSUBSCRIBE (your email)"
Issue: 118
Date: 2010-10-01