Pitchvision Academy


Sometimes you have to make mistakes to learn how to do the right thing, but it’s not nice to go through that process of trial and error.

So to save you some time, this week we have an article on the big fitness mistakes cricketers make so you can learn from our experience instead of going through the pain yourself.

Speaking of experience, we also have technical articles on avoiding the mistakes of cover driving and learning the secrets of spin bowling variations. Plus a fielding drill that helps with fitness and conditioning.

Have a great weekend, 

David Hinchliffe

Do You Make These 4 Fitness Mistakes Every Summer?

We all recognise the importance of fitness in our lives. It’s not just about being better on the cricket field. Regular training makes you healthier and, let’s face it, damn good looking.

Yet fitness is so often the cause of mistakes that lead to the opposite: weaker, more injury-prone, run down and looking awful.

It’s not your fault this happens.

Regular gyms staffed with trainers who don’t know how to get results with cricketers. Coaches are not versed in fitness training beyond a cursory knowledge. You rely on advice that is at best ineffective and at worst dangerous.

It’s time to take control of your in-season training.

So, let’s take a look at the 4 most glaring errors that you never want to make. Do the opposite and you will find your game, and your body, improving.

1. Playing to get fit

The vast majority of cricketers never go near a gym. The reasons are many from motivation to money. The numbers of excuses are even greater. A common one is that you don’t need to do any fitness work during the season because playing and training is more than enough to keep fit and healthy.

The problem is that cricket is not a balanced sport. It’s played unilaterally; you bowl and throw with one arm. You bat sideways. Any repetitive unilateral movement is going to eventually cause you to break down (it’s why bowlers get back pain and side strains).

Good training counteracts that damage by strengthening and mobilising the joints in ways that don’t happen on the pitch.

Yes, all the gym time in the world won’t be the same as ‘overs in the legs’ or ‘time in the middle’ that’s true. But the gym is really there to counteract the bad stuff about overs in the legs (like a sore back or painful soreness in the keeper’s legs).

Plus, you can use specific gym work to build stamina (and lose fat) so you don’t spend your first few games of the season puffing around and feeling awkwardly unfit.

2. Ignoring strength

Cricket relies on power. To throw or bowl a cricket ball you need to move your arm quickly. To hit a ball you need to swing a bat that weighs less than 3lb. In other words, when you play cricket you spend a lot of time training the ‘speed’ aspect of power and no time working on the ‘strength’ part.

By default, when you train for strength, you are building up a base that isn’t there. You throw harder, bowl faster and hit the ball harder because you are covering all aspects of power instead of just one.

It’s why men can bowler faster than women. The have more strength.

3. Jogging

Coaches prescribe jogging as a way of “getting fit” and gyms are packed with cardio machines for all kinds of ways of torturing yourself for 20-30 minutes in the quest for fat burning and building an aerobic base.

It’s all a big myth.

Yes, jogging will improve your ability to jog, but cricketers don’t jog. We walk. Most of the time we walk. Sometimes we run or sprint or stand still but never for 20 minutes at a time. Unless you are an umpire. So why would you jog?

And worse; jogging puts strain on your joints, lowers testosterone levels, reduces mobility in the hips and reduces power output.

Marathon runners can’t bowl at 90mph or hit a ball over the ropes. Just don’t do it. If you want to lose weight look at your diet. If you just want to be cricket fit, get strong, train hard at nets and do interval training.

4. Ignoring movement

“Movement” is a catch-all term for running, changing direction, bending, throwing and jumping. Its stuff you need to do on the cricket pitch but rarely find yourself doing in the gym.

And it’s here that movement becomes a problem, because if we don’t cover it in the gym we are relying on getting it right with no practice.

How can you learn to get low or get in the right positions without regular practice?

The best time to develop these skills is during training. A good range of fielding drills will teach you all you need to know about movement. Yet most club players train once a week at most. You can’t make strides forward if you are training so infrequently.

During the summer it’s sensible to shoot for more movement work (2-3 times a week) and there are ways to do that:

  • Ensure your pre-game warm up contains plenty of fielding drills.
  • Play matches that are short format so you have to do a lot of fielding during the game.
  •  Do a ‘movement training’ session on days where you are not in the gym, training or playing. Use SAQ drills to develop agility and speed.

Use whichever way works best, but remember to shoot for at least 2 sessions a week during the season.

Yes, even when it rains.

For tips on how to put this all together into a training plan, get Strength and Conditioning for Cricket at all Levels by Glamorgan CCC strength coach Rob Ahmun.

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4 Ways Television Has Changed Club Cricket
TV has a direct influence on club cricket.

I was playing a game not long after the review system was introduced to Test matches. Without TV cameras and technology at our game there was no chance of a review. Yet at the first dodgy LBW decision the first slip turned to me and made the now familiar T sign. We both quietly giggled and hope the umpire hadn’t seen the dissent.

That story tells me all I need to know about how TV has changed how we approach cricket, even when we don’t have cameras and Hawkeye at our games.

Here are 4 ways TV has changed the game since I started playing in the early 90s.

1. Front foot LBW is more likely

Back in the pre-technology days it was virtually impossible to get out LBW if you were hit on the front pad.

The umpire would scoff at the merest suggestion, especially when the spinner was on. Anyone who was given out that way would complain for weeks about being triggered.

Since ball tracking has come about it’s a different story. We have all seen on TV how often the ball hits the pads and would have gone on to hit the stumps. Umpires are more confident in their decision and that poor spinner gets a lot more wickets than before.

2. Unorthodox play is acceptable

TV has beamed the switch hit, the dilscoop, the helicopter, the slog sweep and goodness knows what other insane shots.  Kids follow suit. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen kids at my club messing about in nets and emulating the shots of their heroes.

Is this good for batting development?

Of course not, but it is fun. One player in my team relishes in playing the reverse sweep in matches when he knows everyone is watching.

It’s an important point for coaches especially. It’s increasingly difficult to coach orthodox shots without players assuming you are out-of-touch because you never taught the ramp over the slips.

3. Respect for umpires has fallen

Most recently, as my story at the start of this article demonstrated, TV technology has reduced the respect for umpires at club level.

Players, especially younger ones, see the best umpires in the world make mistakes. They see that players have the right to review umpiring decisions. The ultimate authority of the umpire is eroded.

It’s no wonder that there are more questions than ever about decisions. With no way to review, some players get angry and umpires feel the force of disrespect or even abuse.

4. We are even more stat obsessed

Before technology cricket was a game for the stattos. Now it’s a paradise for them. You can obsess about way more than your batting average now.

With the speed gun, players all want to compare their speed to the top players. They want to know how their speed alters during a spell.

The same is true of the use of ball tracking. Bowlers want to see where they are landing the ball, batsman want to see where they have hit it.

Frustratingly, without Hawkeye those who don’t play on TV like you and I could only guess.

That was true until technology started to trickle down. The best example of this effect is here:

With the influence of TV growing, coaches and captains have even more to do to help players make the translation from what’s on the box to what happens in club games.

Whether it’s instilling respect for umpires or investing in technology that allows players to compare themselves to the best, TV technology can’t be disregarded as an important factor in the club game.

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Fielding Drills: Triangles

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

Purpose: To add a conditioning aspect to the practice and throwing and backing up.

Description: The coach/wicketkeeper (c) rolls a ball for the fielder at position A to run out, pick up and throw at the stumps. He then runs to position B. The fielder at position B backs up the throw and returns it to the coach. He then runs to the back of the queue at position A.

Meanwhile the fielder at position A then to position B to be ready to back up the next throw. Players rotate around the triangle as long as required.

Variations: The triangle can be reversed with players running and throwing in the opposite direction.

Comments: Please be aware of the work to rest ratios of this drill as it requires good work capacity. 


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How to Improve Your Batting Shot Selection: Cover Drive

This article is part of the “How to Improve Your Batting Shot Selection” series. To see the full list of shots click here.

With its stylish flourish, the cover drive will always get your team-mates roaring “shot!” as you blaze the ball away. Yet, it’s a paradox of a shot.

You Don’t Need Every Variation to Be an Excellent Spin Bowler

Mushtaq Ahmed, Graeme Swann, Syd Barnes and Shane Warne: Each player a unique and world-class spin bowler of his time.

None of them used every variation in the book.

They didn’t need them all. They maintain their deception by varying the angle of spin within a small region either side of their stock delivery.

Subtle and devastating.


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: 144
Date: 2011-04-01