Pitchvision Academy


We all like to have a laugh and it’s even better when you learn something too.

So, this week we have an article that shows you the lessons you can learn from comedian Chris Rock. For me, the method he uses is the deep secret to improving your skill progressively.

We also have club tactical tips on bringing long players through and using spinners, plus a drill to warm up your fielding skills.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Fielding Drills: Square Game

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

Purpose: To practice a range of fielding skills at once under pressure; the pickup and underarm throw, running and throwing and chase and return.

Description: The wicketkeeper rolls a ball out in one of the 4 angles shown below. Each roll has a different reaction:

  • If rolled to 1: The fielder at position a chases the ball and returns it before moving to position b.
  • If rolled to 2: The fielder at position b runs, picks up the ball, returns it to the keeper and moves to position c.
  • If rolled to 3: The fielder at position c runs, picks up the ball, returns it to the keeper and moves to position d.
  • If rolled to 4: The fielder at position d runs in, underarms the ball to and moves to position a.

Variations: Players can move round in the opposite direction.

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The Chris Rock Guide to Deliberate Practice

Comedian Chris Rock regularly fills stadiums with his stand-up comedy act. Amazingly, it’s nothing to do with being naturally funny.

Rock is known for his ruthless practice skills. He is a joke craftsman; leaving nothing to chance when he has to perform to 20,000 people own his own.

These are skills you can copy to become a classy cricketer and reach your equivalent of having Madison Square Garden rolling in the aisles.

He used an idea we have talked about many times here on PitchVision Academy: that of deliberate practice.

Specifically he did the following:

Rock designed his warm up gigs

Before a stadium gig, Rock plays many small gigs. But he doesn’t go through the motions. Each gig is designed to find out what material works best.

He continually pushes the barriers of what an audience will accept, stretching his ability as a comedian to make jokes and sets funnier than last time.

He isolates specific parts of a set and hones it until it is improved.

As a cricketer, this is the difference between practicing and deliberate practice: you are using drills that specifically challenge you to improve your weak areas, not just having a hit.

Rock repeated it over and over again

Once Rock had material he didn’t sit back and assume it would be alright. He continued his warm up gigs far beyond normal levels.

He kept practicing.
He kept honing .

He kept striving for perfection in practice because that is what creates perfection in the main event.

Yet again we can learn that more deliberate practice means better performance. You need to become obsessed with practicing until people think you are slightly mad.

You can take it though, because every ball you hit or bowl is one tiny step closer to becoming a master of your skill.

Rock used instant feedback

Comedy is great for getting feedback because people either laugh or they don’t.

Rock can use this to create a feedback loop. There is no grey area to worry about. Jokes that don’t get the laugh are culled or moved around the set.

The set is made to work by getting shaped from the reaction of the audience.

This principle also applies to cricket practice. When you bowl a ball it either hits the target area or it does not. If it does, carry on practicing. If it doesn’t, make a change and try again.

Rock stayed focused

Warm up gigs are difficult because the set is not complete: It’s a challenge to get things right. You have to think about how the set is structured, you have to decide if a joke needs to be adjusted, moved or just plain dropped.

It’s a difficult mental process that drains even the best.

Yet Rock knows its part of the process of getting towards a brilliant set on the big stage.

He keeps challenging himself every night in warm ups. He works between gigs to think about why things worked and change them when he needs to change them.

Your lesson is to do the same.

Don’t practice mindlessly, come away feeling mentally exhausted and challenged. A good challenging hour is worth endless balls of turning your arm over.

Rock didn’t enjoy his jokes

Rocks audience at the big gigs enjoy the night, but the work the comedian had to put in made it not much fun for him.

Along the way he told jokes that didn’t work and nobody laughed; and he told the same good gags over and over again, teasing more and more laughs from them.

It takes mental strength to keep going through that.

And it takes mental strength to practice in a way that you don’t enjoy but you know is working.

It’s difficult and painful sometimes but if it was easy and fun then more people would do it and it would be impossible to distinguish the best from the rest.

It’s hard because if you want to be the best, like Rock, you have to suck it up and do it. 

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Cricket Show 122: Joey Arrives and Last Man Stands

The show is invaded by an Aussie stowaway as Burners returns from his journey down under.

But there is plenty of coaching advice too.

Burner’s gives us the inside track on grass-roots reaction to the BBL Twenty20 tournament. Is it the death knell for longer forms of cricket?

Plus we answer questions on the non-bowling arm and how to bowl to tail-enders.

Finally, the interview this week is about tactics in the new Last Man Stands format of the game. It’s a great way to get a game done in 2 hours after work. 

How to Get in Touch With the Show

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How to Give the Lad a Go

The jump from junior to senior cricket is a big one. Many don’t make it and are lost to cricket; dropping out when they finish the colts game.

That’s why it’s so important for senior players in the lower teams to make the transition to adult games easy for the lads (it’s usually lads).

It’s all too simple to pick an enthusiastic – or bully a less enthusiastic – player and forget about him.

Tactics You Should be Using: Finish with Spin

Think of the death of a typical top-level one day game: The quicks always finish the game.

It makes sense to follow their lead at club level.

Except club cricket is a different game and, in fact, spinners are far the better option to finish off an innings and get the win.

The possibility of the draw means batsmen can shut up shop and aim to just not lose the game. This is much easier against club seam bowlers with an old ball that it is against spin.


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: 159
Date: 2011-07-15