Pitchvision Academy


This week the newsletter is one for the bowlers.

Not only do I show you how to bowl a hat trick, but I also give away the secrets of fitness training for better bowling. Don't worry there is no boring jogging in sight.

I have also updated and republished my article on timing so you batters don't feel left out.

And if you have not already heard, Bob Woolmer's coaching book finally came out recently. Kevin and I review our copies on the latest miCoach Cricket Show. You can listen in here.

Have a great weekend,


David Hinchliffe

What happens to your body during a bowling spell?

Debate still rages about fitness training for cricket.

Many former pros still wonder why current player hit the gym. There argument (in many cases a sound one) is that there is little crossover to the pitch.

As we know, it all depends what you do in the gym. Cricketers are not bodybuilders and need to train for the specific demands of the game for both injury prevention and improving performance.

In order to know what these demands are, we need to look at what happens on the pitch. This is an exercise I have done previously for batsmen, now it's the turn of the bowlers.

The physiology of bowling

Imagine standing at the top of your run waiting to bowl the first ball of the first over. As you start your run the muscles in your body respond to the commands of your brain and begin to contract.

As you jump into your action you store up power in your muscles. They stretch and contract in exactly the right sequence for you to propel the ball to the other end at pace. You follow though, applying the brakes as you watch the batsman's response.

Then you walk back to your mark to do it all again the next ball.

What is happening during all this is your body is drawing on energy from various stores. Just like the batsmen, the amount of activity per ball demands a high power output over a short period. Something that puts a strain on the same systems: Mainly the ATP-CP system which is described in the link above.

As your spell gets longer, despite a few minutes rest between overs, you begin to tire.

Yet your reserves of glycogen (the natural fuel of your body) are still not depleted. You are not running a marathon and you are getting lots of rest. Why are you starting to flag?

One theory is that your subconscious brain is taking over earlier than it needs to in order to protect you from overdoing it. This 'Central Governor' explanation states than the body has a natural buffer that makes you feel tired so you can always keep something in reserve for emergencies.

It's that feeling you get when you are putting everything into it, yet your body is not allowing you to bowl at pace any longer. It also explains why some bowlers are able to get a second wind when they take a wicket: There is more in the tank; it just can't be accessed unless your subconscious lets you in.

According to some research, this effect is more pronounced in the type of muscle contractions bowlers do with every delivery know as eccentric.

The better your muscles are at these eccentric contractions, the longer it will take before you start to get fatigued and lose pace.

Training for bowling

If the Central Governor Theory is correct, then the best way to train for bowling is to improve the eccentric strength of your muscles.

The main way to do this is simply by doing a lot of bowling. That's what bowlers talk about when they refer to being match fit: The have bowled enough to overload the eccentric strength of their muscles. This is something that can't be recreated in the gym.

However, gym training can add to this by strengthening the muscles further. If can also strengthen the muscles that are not used as much in bowling to help prevent left to right side imbalances in the body which can cause injury.

Fitness training can also improve your ability to recover from repeated bouts of intense exercise such as a fast bowling spell, keep your body composition favourable (more lean muscle, less useless fat) and improve the efficiency of your heart and lungs.

With all that in mind, what kind of fitness work should bowlers do?

  • Net bowling in 6 ball overs with 2-3 minutes rest between overs.
  • Interval training of various distances and speeds.
  • Plyometrics.
  • Medicine ball throws and catches.
  • Olympic lifts or their variations in the 3-5 repetition range with 2-3 minutes rest.
  • Core stabilising exercises.
  • Strength training in the 3-8 repetition range at a fast tempo with up to 2 minutes rest.
  • Individualised 'prehabiliation' exercises to iron out left to right side imbalances (once identified).

Greg Chappell recommends combining this kind of fitness work with skills practice to help the body associate fitness with cricket. I have never seen any evidence that this works, but it could be a more convenient way to structure fitness training for bowlers with limited time.


If you want a more comprehensive guide to reducing injury risk and increasing cricket specific fitness, check out county strength coach Rob Ahmun's guide on PitchVision Academy.


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How to bowl a hat trick
A hat trick is quite a paradox.

On the one hand, you would love to get one at almost any point in your spell, but how many bowlers plot to do it?

Most of us consider it a stroke of luck, perhaps a once in a lifetime thing.

Yet we all know proper planning and preparation is the way to success so why not plan how you are going to knock down three in three?

As Arnold Palmer said, "It's a funny thing, the more I practice the luckier I get".

Here are 5 things you can do both before and during the game to get your hat trick.

1. Know your batsmen

Every player has a weakness. If you do your homework before the game you can give yourself an incredible advantage. Perhaps you know a certain player likes to get off the mark quickly and will flash outside the off stump early on. You could bowl a wider fuller ball and if it swings you have your man first ball.

2. Practice accuracy

Knowing where to bowl and bowling it there are two very different skills. Both are essential but you can practice your accuracy much more easily. Head to the nets with a bag of balls as often as you can. Don't worry about bringing a batsman. Just bowl to a target again and again until it is ingrained in your muscle memory. When the time comes to bowl the perfect ball on your way to a hat trick you will be ready.

3. Clear your mind

Now we come to the actual match situation. You are watching the new batsman come in and you have formulated your plan to get him or her. You have been practicing all season for this moment. You are probably a mixture of emotions. Now is the time to clear your mind and focus on this ball, not what has happened before or what may come. Your job is to bowl this ball perfectly so get back to 'ready' as fast as possible.

4. Use the adrenaline

Despite your mind being clear you should be anything but calm. The adrenaline of a wicket (or two in two) will be pumping. Bowling well requires explosive excitement like this so ride the wave. The incoming batsmen should be thinking they are in trouble just by your body language. His or her nerves will be jangling anyway (who wants to be part of a hat trick) and fear causes mistakes.

5. Bowl a cracker

Up until this point all the cards are stacked in your favour. You have the killer instinct and the batsman is new to the crease. You know their weaknesses and have cleared you mind of everything except the target to bowl at. Now is the time to bowl a real peach, because most batsmen (especially those on the hat trick ball) will do anything to stay in. You need to beat their defence.

But you can do it. Three great balls in a row are not impossible if you are well practiced and ready.

It's just a matter of putting in the planning. Not as hard as you might think.

Image credit: Prescott

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Why your mum was right about eating your greens (and what to do if you don't like veg)

When I was a boy I would do anything to get out of eating those dreaded vegetables on the plate at dinner time.

They were green and often overcooked. The very thought of putting slimy spinach near my mouth was enough to turn my stomach. I'd try every trick in the book from hiding the peas under the leftover mashed potato to pleading stomach cramps.

I thought mum and dad were trying to inflict some kind of slow poison to my system. What had I done to deserve such punishment?

But it turns out that my parents were in the right for a host of reasons. I should have eaten my greens. It was the delivery system I wasn't too keen about, not the food itself. Who wants slimy spinach anyway?

Since those days I have learned that you can eat healthily without forcing disgusting stuff down your neck. I have only relatively recently realised this is not just A-Good-Thing-To-Do.

It's also a boost to my cricket performance and you can do the same.

The benefits of eating more fruit and vegetables

Statistically speaking, there is a fair chance you don't eat enough fruit and veg.

Only 12% of British people eat 5 portions a day (which is the minimum recommended by the government). The average person eats between 2-3 portions and an amazing 1 in 8 people don't eat any fruit or vegetables at all!

Why should you care if you don't eat that much?

It could be causing you problems on the pitch.

Research has shown a myriad of benefits:
  • Help with weight loss. Vegetables are low in calories but high in fibre meaning you can fill yourself up yet still be in a calorie deficit for weight loss purposes
  • Help with body composition. Players with more muscles and less fat (you can use the word 'toned' if you have to) have better speed-strength and are able to run faster, bowl faster and hit the ball harder. Most vegetables help with this by controlling insulin through their low position on the Glycemic Index.
  • Prevention of diseases. The more good stuff you eat, the less likely you are to get cardiovascular issues, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. All life threatening stuff, and certainly no good for your cricket career.  

Fruit and vegetables also have a vital role in keeping your body in pH balance.

Your pH level shows how acid or alkaline the cells in your body are at any point. It's the exact same scale as the pH strips that change colour you might have used in school science.

If your body is in acidosis (You eat more acidic food than alkaline food) you can suffer. You body goes into overdrive to rebalance you out, taking nutrients from your muscles and bones. In the short term you may not notice much. Our bodies are highly adaptable and can cover up problems. However, in the longer term you are looking at reduced strength and power as well as a possible decline in kidney function and an increased chance of osteoporosis. Ouch.

Fortunately, the solution is simple. Eat more fruit and vegetables.

Plant based food has a net alkaline (or base) load. Pretty much all other food has a net acid load (especially meat, dairy and grains). Simply by eating 1-2 portions of vegetables with every meal is enough to balance things out again.

It's a solution endorsed by nutritionists and coaches alike. Greg Chappell is a fan and Bob Woolmer discusses the benefits in his coaching book too.

How to get more fruit and vegetables in your diet

But what if you get the shakes even thinking about a salad?

As a reformed vegophobic, here is what worked for me.

  1. A portion is less than you think. A portion of veg is just a couple of spears of broccoli or one carrot. It can also be a single tomato, about 5cm of cucumber or just three tablespoons of chick peas.
  2. Snack between meals. An apple or some carrot sticks fill you up and contribute to your portions for the day without feeling like it. I'm very anal about going out without a baggie filled up before I leave the house.
  3. Try new things. If you don't like certain vegetables or fruits you don't have to eat them. The mistake I made was thinking if I don't like cabbage and sprouts I don't like anything. There are many different types of fruit and vegetable with an incredible variety of colours and flavours. That's before you think about the different ways of cooking them. Work your way through everything before deciding. I wasted years.
  4. Drink smoothies. Who doesn't love a fruit flavoured smoothie? You can get several portions of fruit into a blender and drink it down as a healthy breakfast meal or a mid afternoon snack to keep the post lunch dip away.
  5. Blend vegetables. You can hide vegetables from yourself. Mix carrots into pasta sauces or serve raw vegetables with hummus or guacamole dips.
  6. Rope in your friends and family. Social pressure is a powerful tool. Get your family to buy into the health kick too or start a club who meet once a week to tell of their veg eating exploits. Failing that, join an online community of likeminded people, all with similar aims to you.

Finally, enjoy it. Food is supposed to be a fun experience so rope everyone in and cook up a storm. Try it for 30 days and you might find it has become a habit.

Photo credit: funadium


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Concentrate on routine on the morning of a match

Imagine it's the morning of your biggest game of the season. What do you do to focus your mind on the task at hand?

It's all down to routine.

Whether you bat or bowl, we all feel better when we are in control and are able to predict what is going to happen. You can't do that about the game, but you can do it about your preparation right up until the start of the match.

The World's Biggest Guide To Timing The Cricket Ball

It was a league match and we had just taken a wicket. A kid of about 15 came out looking nervous, as they often do. I reckon it was one of his first senior cricket games because he looked like a fish out of water.

He was small for his age anyway, and this was exacerbated by the wide framed men that stood around the bat. Our spinner was on. They were sharks circling their prey waiting for the slightest mistake.

He scratched around for a while and we soon came to the conclusion he was not going to last long. That was until he got a half volley on leg stump. He unleashed one of the finest on drives I have seen. The ball raced to the long boundary in a blur.

It's a scene that you can see at every level of cricket all over the world.

Why it is that seemingly 'weak' players like that kid can hit the ball so hard?


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: 14
Date: 2008-09-26