Pitchvision Academy


We all know that away games are more difficult than home games. The reasons are many but there is one you might not have considered. Read on to find out how to overcome the issue.

Plus we look at handling pressure, coaching fitness and cricket CVs.

Have a great weekend, 

David Hinchliffe

A Reason Why You Are Losing Away Games That You May Not Have Thought Of

The car pulls up into the car park and as you get out you groan a little, stiffened by the long journey.

Dragging your gear to the changing room, you change and catch up with the banter of the others who have arrived.

But the atmosphere is subdued. Even in warm ups there is the unspoken away game lethargy that always shows up. You find it impossible to get into the groove no matter how hard you try.

The lethargy spills over into the match and you end up putting in a bad showing without ever quite knowing why.

What’s going on?
It’s all to do with that hour in the car.

It doesn’t feel like it should influence your performance. We travel every day. But the difference here is that you need to be physically and mentally switched on to playing sport.

Sitting down just doesn’t get you in the right place to play cricket well.

Luckily, the answer to beating that feeling is to simply become aware of it.

Once you know you are not up for the fight because you have been sitting in a warm car you can do some simple things to nip the cause in the bud and start playing harder when you are not at home.

Beat away game lethargy first thing

We all know the initial feeling of stiffness when getting out of a car.

One simple way to reduce the effect is to make sure you stretch before you even set off. Stretching irons out the imbalances in muscles caused by everyday life and – if you do it regularly – improves the quality of the muscle tissue.

While you want to avoid the classic “static” stretching too much on the day of the game, you can do a solid stretching session for 15-20 minutes in the morning.

Combine foam rolling with static stretches, really focusing on getting to the stiff and tight areas and unlocking them. Foam roll slowly, use a bowling machine ball to get to hard to reach areas, and hold stretches for long periods (20-30 seconds doesn’t cut it, get at least 2-3 minutes in)

The important part is to work on areas that will tighten up in the car: legs and hips, neck and chest are classics but let your body guide you.

Avoid stretching your lower back though; there are other things we do to sort that problem out.

Fidget in the car

When you are nicely loose and mobile you go and spoil it a bit by getting back into that sitting position and locking yourself back up. Blood starts to pool and your muscles turn off.

You can overcome some things by making sure your posture is good while you sit, but also fidget as much as you can.

When you stop at lights get your neck moving and pull your shoulder blades back and down. Waggle your ankles and lift your knees a few times.

 If you get a chance get out of the car and stand up. Even standing for a minute just gets the circulation going again and you take the edge off the lethargy.

Have an away game warm up

Now you have arrived and you will already feel better, but you still have a bit of work to do to get your head and body in the right place.

The warm up is the place to do this, but it’s not just a matter of a game of football and some fielding drills.

To do that is missing a key element because the warm up should be like a ramp from “everyday” up to “game ready” at the top.

When you play after a long drive, you are even further down the scale at “lethargic” so you need to do more work even before you start to warm up. There are 3 stages lasting about 15 minutes in total:

  • Foam roll: do 30 seconds on 4-5 muscle groups that are tight areas: these are commonly the hip flexors, adductors, t-spine and pec minor but do your own areas.
  • Re-activate sleeping muscles: When you sit, key muscles realise they are not needed and ‘switch off’. Then they get lazy and don’t switch back on, forcing other muscles to do the work and causing pain and stiffness. You can counter this with simple activation exercises for the glutes and shoulders. 5 minutes is plenty.
  • Mobilise joints: Lastly, you need to get your mobile joints going back through their full range of motion after they are locked in when travelling. Do 5 minutes of active mobility drills like these. They also serve to raise your heart rate.

Once you have done these three steps you can move to your normal drills and specific warm ups. You will find yourself feeling physically loose and more ready mentally for the task ahead.

And with that lethargy gone you will be more focused and win more matches. 

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How to Handle Pressure

It’s said by wise – and not so wise – people that really good cricketers know how to deal with pressure.

That’s the factor that makes the difference because those who can perform in the tightest situations are those most likely to succeed.

How do they do it?

Different players have different ways of framing pressure, but it all boils down to one simple thing.

They know it’s all in their head.
And it is for you too.

We all know the “net player” who looks brilliant in practice and terrible in matches. To some extent we are all somewhere on that scale. There is no more intrinsic jeopardy in games.

You are the one applying the pressure to yourself by making the game more important than nets. It’s not like someone is shooting at you.

So if you are the one applying pressure, you can be the one who releases it.

It’s why international teams who have been well-beaten in a series - with the pressure off - rally in the last match.

So it’s just a matter of getting out of your own head and getting used to ignoring the feeling of pressure.

The easiest way to do that is to have the experience of succeeding under pressure.

When you have felt pressure and succeeded anyway you become more confident because you know you can do it again.

You begin to wonder what all the fuss was about.

It’s why playing your fiftieth game is much easier than playing your first.

(Duncan Fletcher as England coach wanted players to have thirty ODI games under their belts before big tournaments for just that reason).

So play lots of games, and don’t forget you can rack up practice sessions to add pressure too.

When you get through it you start to thrive instead of cowering. 

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Cricket Show 126: What’s Your Craziest Cricketing Injury?

Burners and David swap cricket injury stories and we want to hear yours too. So drop us a line with your most gruesome injuries, just please don’t show us your scars – that’s gross.

The show also features part 3 of the spin bowling tips interview with South African coach Menno Gazendam.

Plus we answer your questions on cricket careers and how to be loose like Joel Garner recommends. 


How to Get in Touch With the Show

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Club Coach Fitness Toolkit: Introduction

It’s the modern dilemma of the good coach: how much can you do with your players to get them fit?

It doesn’t help that opinions vary greatly as to the answer.

The purist says that there is no need to do anything at all. Simply playing the sport is plenty fitness training enough.

Get in the nets son.

The progressive on the other hand is doing all kinds of crazy drills to work on speed, agility and conditioning.

If You Want To Be an Overseas Professional You Need a Cricket CV

Sitting down to write a résumé is a million miles from being a cricketer. But if you want to play as a club professional you need to sell yourself hard.

Clubs and agents are bombarded with requests for work from all over the world. We see dozens of applications here at PitchVision Academy alone.

It’s a buyer’s market.

A good CV allows you to stand out from the crowd.


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: 165
Date: 2011-08-26