Pitchvision Academy


In the newsletter this week we bring together all our key articles on batting in one place so you can get started on improving your game with the willow.

Mark Garaway brings us the lowdown on a simple but effective drill and we talk about what physios know about cricketers.

Have a great weekend, 

David Hinchliffe

Coaching Drills: One Leg Front Foot Drive

This is a simple yet highly effective drill I have used with players right up to international level to improve straight driving.

The drill is to get players to hit balls with all your weight on the front foot, the back leg in the air. The feed starts underarm before progressing through to throw-downs and bowling machines.

I was first introduced to the drill by the late, great Bob Woolmer. In 1991/2. I was running a session for a couple of our players who were involved in the Boland Squads (Claude and James Henderson). Bob was Head coach there.

Using elite players

Bob had the players hitting front foot drives with them lifting their weight totally off of their back foot and balancing on their front foot only.

The results were fantastic, the contacts were enhanced and the contact areas were right under both James’ and Claude’s noses meaning that they were in total control.

I then worked with Bob during a number of the Boland senior practice sessions and he had all of the senior players doing the same drill with the results being the same; enhanced contact, increased power and later contact areas giving the batter more control to be able to manoeuvre the ball precisely.

 Why the drill works

Bob's view was that too many players drive the ball off of the front foot with too much of their weight being distributed on their back foot.

He used "force-plates" to demonstrate this on a Level IV Batting Module that he hosted in 2002 at Loughborough University. The results of hitting the ball with too much weight on the back foot were:

  •  Reduction in power (Less body weight being transferred into the ball)
  • Players losing their batting shape when being forced to over-hit the ball to increase power
  • Contact areas being made in front of your eyes, thus losing control at ball strike
  • Ball being hit squarer than the line of the delivery dictates, the ball slides into the point and gully region rather than splitting extra cover to wide mid-on.

The simple act of taking the weight off the back foot counters all this.

Incorporating the drill

I took the drill on into my coaching programmes and soon all the batters that I worked with were incorporating the drill into their pre-game routines and practice programmes.

The feeds from the coach or partner into the batter started as underarm throws to build up the competence and confidence in the drill and then this was progressed up into throw-downs and bowling machine work.

I had been working with the England team for 18 months when Michael Vaughan, Paul Collingwood and Kevin Pietersen started to work with me on a day to day basis as batting coach.

Michael in particular was a keen advocate of the drill as he had seen Younis Khan using it at Yorkshire CCC during Michael's long lay-off with knee injury. Obviously, Younis Khan had picked up the drill during his sessions with Pakistan during the Bob Woolmer era as Coach of the team.

 Michael used the drill during his comeback series and averaged 63 against the West Indies.

Other players saw this and started to use the drill as well.

Player feedback
  •   "Amazed at how much power I can get if I release my weight from my back foot onto my front foot when I drive the ball"
  • "I thought that I would be unbalanced at ball strike but in fact I feel more balanced now that I am used to the drill, even though I am on one leg"
  • "My contacts are much more controlled as I am waiting for the ball and hitting it under my eyes now.
  • "I don’t need to make contact with the ball early to try and get power as my body weight being into the shot gives all the natural power that I require"
  • "If I keep my batting shape then I generate all the power I need"
  • "I can dictate where the ball goes now so much more, giving me more scoring options with control"

Testing effects

Now, I hear you say that you can’t hit front foot shots with no weight on your back foot in matches and to a point you will be right, but only to a point!

This is a drill that you then take into your normal batting in nets to test how it has impacted on performance.

Batters will still play drives with their back foot down on the ground, yet it is interesting to see how much of the weight is still on the back foot, has it changed as a result of the one-legged drill?

  •  Is the player making contact with the ball later now?
  • Is the ball being hit straighter, rather than squirting away through point or gully?
  • How much power is being generated with seemingly no increase in the swing of the bat?
  • Is the player in control?

Take a look at a Jaques Kallis on-drive, an Ian Bell on-drive or a number of Kevin Pietersen's front foot shots and observe how much weight is on the back foot and how much power is generated: a lot of the time these shots are played without the back foot being in contact with the ground at all.

Then think back to the One-Leg Front Foot Drill work that these three players would have done and how that has impacted upon their execution of drives under extreme pressure.

 It’s a basic drill that - if done properly - will make a huge difference to control, power and performance.

The best players in the world use it, can you incorporate it with even more context and understanding into your caching programmes or preparation routines?  

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What the Physio Knows About Cricket Preseason Preparation

When the season is over and the sun has disappeared from the sky the temptation is to hibernate until indoor nets start again.

But a recent trip to a physio for a sports massage changed my mind about winter training.

I had noticed over the last couple of years that my back began to feel tighter and tighter and now was the time to do something about it.

My logic was to give my back a service to allow it to feel loose for a few months before the strain started again.

The professional I went to see completely agreed that an annual service would do wonders for my back. In fact she told me the strain put on your body whilst playing cricket is unique.

The twisting motion of your back during bowling for example is something that is rarely replicated in our day to day lives; and the aching you get after the first half-dozen spells of the season will prove it to you.

She said that a lot of the strains she treats from cricket are muscular rather than spinal and are often found in muscles that are hard to stretch or warm up.

She said that sessions of Pilates or yoga are a benefit for this reason, plus they promote core strength.

I had seen on Twitter how pros like Paul Nixon rave about Yoga and the logic makes sense, especially for a wicket keeper.

Stretching in the right way helps you get into better positions, and the off season is a great time to do it because you are not getting beaten up from long afternoons in the field.

Combining your stretching routine with a well-planned strength and conditioning programme and you also build strength, power and work capacity to stave off injury.

Towards the end of the massage the physio highlighted muscle groups which she found to be extra tight and mentioned some stretches that would help keep these flexible throughout the season.

I left feeling 3 inches taller and inspired to take a full length one handed catch like Jonty Rhodes.

That’s how loose I felt.

The lessons from that session are things that I am going to do after every season and possibly pre-season and I can highly recommend you try the same. 

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Cricket Show 135: Burners Gets Sledged... By His Own Team

With sledging high in discussion this week, the team take a look at every aspect of mental disintegration from club games to high profile international matches. And poor Burners tells us that he often gets more from his own team-mates than from the opposition.

There is plenty of other discussion too.

We look at the influence of overseas professionals on the game, and answer your questions with Mark Garaway and David Hinchliffe giving some revealing answers in the questions section.

We look at how to improve your run rate if you have a good technique already, and the risks and rewards of training as a teenage fast bowler. It’s not all knocking batsmen on the head it seems.  

How to Get in Touch With the Show

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The Complete Guide to Batting

If you want to learn how to bat, here is the place to start.

Batting is a difficult cricket skill made more difficult by the pressure of having one chance before your innings is over.

6 Ways spinners can get more wickets

Shane Warne once said that part of his job was to prove that spinners were attacking bowlers in all forms of the game. Even though he has retired, his legacy has been to give captain's more confidence in their spinners.

For Shane was right. Spinners exist to get wickets. What makes it interesting is that there are many different styles of spinner. Whether you captain spin or give the ball a tweak yourself, understanding your own style is crucial to success.


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: 174
Date: 2011-10-28