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With so much top-class international cricket on show at the moment it can be easy to forget that the basics are important to master.

So this week we focus on becoming world class at some basics because that’s where true great players excel. We have a fielding drill that can be used to improve speed or endurance, a guide to introducing fitness to teenage players and ways to adapt drills to make it easier to groove your skills.

Plus children’s character Mr Strong makes a special guest appearance.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Fielding drills: Underarm fitness

Purpose: A drill that incorporates cricket skills into speed/endurance training. Can also be used as a pre-game warm up drill.

Description: Players get into equal team numbers. The first player in the queue at end A runs with the ball, places it down on the blue marker and runs to the back of end B.

When the player passes the first person in the queue at end B, this person runs to the ball, picks it up and underarms it to the first player in the queue at end A before running to the back of the queue at A. Continue as many times as the fitness requirement permits.

Fitness notes: This is a flexible drill that can be used to develop cricket-specific speed or endurance, however it needs to be customised depending on the requirement:

  • Speed: Perform the throw portion of the drill (after a warm up) at full speed (90-95% sprinting pace). Ensure each player gets 2 minute rest between throws (you will need to work this out depending how many players are in the groups, you can alter the rest between races) . Do not exceed 5-10 throws per player. Players should be fully recovered between sprints.
  • Endurance: Increase the distance a player has to run and perform the throw portion of the drill at a slower pace (60-80% sprinting pace). Keep the rest time between throws low (30-60 seconds). Perform 10-20 throws each. Players should not have time to fully recover between sprints.

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3 Things Mr Strong can teach you about cricket

“Mr Strong is the strongest person in the whole wide world.” - Roger Hargreaves

I’m not sure if children’s character Mr Strong ever played cricket, but if he did I’m betting he would be rather good at it.

Anyone who can throw a cannonball as far as you or I could throw a tennis ball has to be a useful bowler and fielder.

But despite the obvious limitation of being a made-up cartoon, Mr Strong actually knows a thing or two about cricket fitness and nutrition.

Let’s take a look at his story and find out those 3 things.

1. Eat eggs

“The more eggs Mr Strong eats, the stronger he becomes.”

Eggs make you strong. Sometimes they get a bad rap with complaints of too much fat or cholesterol but every unhealthy egg claim I have ever heard has been nonsense.

Eggs make you strong because they fire protein straight into the muscles with the precision of Robin Hood (well, almost). And once the protein is in there it gets to work. It starts by repairing any damage that was caused while it was away then goes about making sure the muscle is stronger for next time.

And stronger means fewer injuries, faster bowling and more hitting power.

Of course you can get protein from all kinds of sources, but eggs are king.


Because 100% of the protein in a whole egg can be used by the body. Beef, chicken and fish clock on at about 80%, while beans and nuts are under 50%.

Plus eggs also contain the kick-butt B vitamins that assist in energy production. Increased stamina anyone? Yes please.

2. Good strength is functional strength

“Mr Strong emptied the upside down barn full of water over the flames.”

We have all seen bodybuilders with impressive bulk, but I doubt they would be able to play cricket well. That’s because cricket requires a combination of technical and physical skills.

In other words, power is nothing without function.

Mr Strong knew that because he was perfectly capable of using his strength to put out a fire.

Your function is to be a better player, so when you are training to get strong focus on how your strength will be used to make your training crossover to the pitch.

You can find out exactly how to do that here.

3. A cool head reaps rewards

“You shall have as many eggs as you can carry”

Mr Strong didn’t panic in the face of a blazing corn field. He trusted his strength, saved the day and was rewarded (with eggs of course).

And that’s exactly how you should approach your cricket.

Put the worries out of your mind and focus on doing what you do best. Psychologists call this the zone.

Mr Strong would probably call it a beautiful day.

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When to introduce strength and endurance training to young cricketers

This article is part 4 of the “How to use fitness training to make better young cricketers” series.

Some time in a cricketer’s early teens their focus shifts.

No, I’m not talking about the strange attraction to the opposite sex. I mean that the type of fitness training they can bear moves from movement skills to more traditional strength and endurance.

Between the ages of 12-16 (11-15 in girls) a development window opens up that a good cricket coach can exploit to make players fitter and more able to deal with the stresses of playing.

This article will show you how to identify that period and make the most of it without sacrificing cricket skills.

Reaching the peak

Unlike previous ages, coaches have to be flexible when it comes to fitness training because puberty arrives at different times for different players.

Anyone who has coached a teenage team will recognise the sight of two boys in the same under-15 side; one who is nearly 6 feet tall and shaving, the other who looks like he is 10 years old.

The difference is the first player reached his PHV or “peak height velocity” (the rate he is growing) earlier, and as a result is more able to take advantage of strength and endurance training.

And that peak is all-important.

Because, for boys 12-18 months after this growth spurt is the perfect time for pushing hard at improving strength and endurance (for girls this phase is straight after the growth spurt).

Training to train

As soon as a player enters this phase you can change the focus of training from the previous “Learning to Train” stage. In the LTAD terminology it’s called Training to Train.

Of course that means being flexible in how you coach players. Most coaches of this age group will have players at both stages. That means doing the same en-masse will either be too hard for the Learning to Train players or missing an opportunity for the Training to Train players.

However, simply splitting these players up should cover it.

Improving strength, improving performance

Your first role as coach is to encourage players at this phase to get proper strength training.

Safe strength training at this point in a cricketer’s development has been proven to give more resilient bones, tendons, ligaments, and muscles.

In other words; better performance and fewer injuries.

Most cricket coaches are not qualified to do serious strength training and besides there is little time or equipment to do more than the basics you already cover in previous phases.

Training teenagers in strength needs specially qualified experts so seek out someone who knows what they are doing.

A good practitioner in youth fitness training will:

  • Focus on developing safe and effective technique
  •  Look to strength and endurance first but understand the need for mobility and flexibility
  • Understand how to prevent common injuries to shoulders, back and hips
  •  Plan a different off-season and in-season programme
  • Not try and develop hulking bodybuilders

You don’t need to know this stuff so refer your players to this person when the time comes.

Stepping on the gas

One thing you can feel happy doing is getting this stage of players out of breath.

Endurance levels soar during this phase and you can do your bit to push it further by introducing some serious interval training.

You could set aside an extra training session to do this (or refer it out) but most coaches with a very limited time will want bang for the buck and combine it with other drills.

Fielding drills and fitness make a lot of sense. Most out-fielding drills can be adjusted to make the distance covered longer. Keep groups small and waiting times short. Work time (that's when they are doing the drill) should be on a 1:2, 1:1 or 2:1 basis depending on fitness levels. So a 1:1 ratio is 30 seconds work, 30 seconds rest. 1:2 is 30 seconds work with 60 seconds rest.

Running between the wickets can be added to net training ore middle practice easily. You can even have specific sessions that focus on running between the wickets that will do the fitness job too. Again, keep your mind on work to rest periods so players systems are overloaded.

Filling the gaps

Of course, the good work you have been doing previously continues:

  • Mobility drills in the warm up
  • Basic core stabilising exercises
  • Speed and agility drills

While these are not the focus, and can be kept in the warm up, they are vital.

You should also insist on a post-training and match stretch out at this age. It’s not only a good habit it helps with the range of motion at joints which is crucial to the developing body.

This stage continues until about the age of 16, where players move on again. We will cover that in the final part of this series, coming up soon.

Click the links below to see the other parts of this series:

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Tactics you should be using: Leave the field up

Knowing when to leave a fielder up or push him back is quite the art.

Do it too early and you give away easy runs or miss a chance to take a wicket. Do it too late and it costs you big.

Tactically aware bowlers seem to have this 6th sense, Jedi mind trick to know when to do it. But it’s more a conundrum to others.

So when is the perfect time?

Working in the grey area

Adapting cricket drills: Improving skill practice

This article is part of a series designed to show you how to adapt cricket drills for your needs. To see the full list of articles in this series click here.

Drills that are designed to groove skills already learned rather than teach from scratch are the focus of this article.

Here we are going to assume that a player can perform the skill and have a feel for it, they just want to get better at it.


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.


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Issue: 127
Date: 2010-12-03