Pitchvision Academy


This week’s newsletter has advice on improving net practice and warming up when you are stuck for time. We also examine how baking a cake is like preparing for cricket.

It’s your weekly motivation to strive to be the best you can be.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

27 Preseason Hacks: A Cheat Sheet for Nets That Actually Improve your Cricket

Preseason nets are looming and this year you are determined not to waste them. You want to take every last drop of improvement in time for that first game in the spring.

That means this year talking to the coach or captain and getting him to copy some of the practices of successful club, academy and school sides. As you already know, being an amateur player is no longer an excuse for amateur practice.

So let’s use some of that determination with these changes to nets:

  1. Get the right atmosphere. Senior players, coach and captain need to buy in to using practice as a time to practice at game intensity. Socialise afterwards.
  2. Treat every practice like a game. How seriously do you take games? However serious that is, match it in practice. If you never want to drop a catch in a game it’s simple, never drop one in practice and treat it like you dropped the superstar opponent in a crunch fixture.
  3. Use what you have. You might not have perfect facilities and training aids. Just use what you can. Fielding practice only needs one ball.
  4. Break the preseason into periods. Focus on skill, a fitness base and technique in the early pre-season and game-plans as the spring approaches.
  5. Give throwdowns. All batsmen should “warm up” with a few minutes of technical work from gentle throwdowns getting progressively harder. This grooves technique before entering the net.
  6. Bowl without batsmen. While that batters bat, the bowlers bowl in an empty net, trying to hit their target line, length and pace/deviation.
  7. Divide the nets up. Have a pace net and a spin net. Ideally bowlers bowl in pairs, 6 balls at a time. This keeps balls coming at the batsmen but allows bowlers to work as a pair and get the feel for bowling in overs.
  8. Divide the nets up (part 2). As the season approaches, split the nets into different scenarios, such as batting a long innings or hitting out at the death.
  9. Bring in the fitness. You can easily incorporate sprints, agility, core work, mobility and basic strength training into nets. Do that thing.
  10. Start with fielding. Fielding is the first thing to get dropped, so do it first as a warm up with game intensity and stop dropping catches.
  11. Use video. Every net session has a camera now because they are standard on mobile phones. Use it to analyse your technique.
  12. Set goals for each session. Theme your sessions around something that gets people thinking rather than going through the motions.
  13. Set goals for the preseason. Have an ultimate aim for where you want to be at the end of preseason and work backwards to where you are now. You can do this at team and individual level. It gives you a roadmap.
  14. Work on a variation. Every bowler should have at least one variation they can bowl at will. It doesn’t have to be flash. A good yorker is ideal.
  15. Stop the wicketkeeper bowling. Even if the ‘keeper is a really good bowler, he should really be working on his wicketkeeping.
  16. Stretch. Your warm up has no excuse not to work on the mobility of everyone’s hips, t-spine and ankles. Foam rollers are next on the list.
  17. Track your changes. Keep a record of what you have done and how you did it. Track what works and change what doesn’t.
  18. Have an extra session. You can always have an extra session. Get together with some cricket tragic mates and keep your game-heads on.
  19. Use deliberate practice. It was the buzz word of last year for me. It’s going to be even more important the more we learn about developing skill. Get started using deliberate practice.
  20. Get outside as soon as you can (even when it’s cold). Cricket is played outside. As soon as you can bear it go outside and don’t go back in.
  21. Learn a new shot. My guess is you need to work on your on-drive.
  22. Bring in the kids. Toughen up the next generation by bringing them in to senior practice so they can learn how to play hard, even in practice (but make sure they are safe of course).
  23. Play games. Don’t be afraid to ignore the nest altogether and play games. Indoor cricket teaches you a lot if you set it up right. Plus it’s great fun.
  24. Work on building trust. Trust is vital to a successful team, and it’s about much more than bonding over a pint. Use nets to build a culture of shared intensity and responsibility. If you are influential (coach, captain, senior player) be fast to reward success as a team.
  25. Learn how to run. Sprinting is as technical as a cover drive. While you are not a 100m Olympic contender, you can spend time working on learning how to run faster and get a pay off with less run-outs. Wear pads, it makes a difference.
  26. Pile on the pressure. Pressure changes everything, so add some to nets in the latter stages of preseason by setting targets, sledging, and middle practice in good weather. Learn to get out of your own head.
  27. Deal with the difficult ones. Not everyone will buy in to a serious training culture. Learn how to deal with resistance in a friendly way. 

What changes will you be making this preseason to have a better summer?

Leave a comment and let us know.

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Cricket Show 144: New Logo, New Season, Pre Season

We’re back! It’s an all new Cricket Show. New logo and new theme tune and the advice is just as good.

This week it’s all about preseason training.

Burners, Mark Garaway and David Hinchliffe are back together to discuss how preseason has changed and what the new IPL coaches will be getting up to as they gear up for the latest instalment of the tournament.

Plus we answer your questions on swing bowling when it’s not swinging and keeping focused through a long, and sometimes hard, preseason period.


In the show Mark and David refer to the following:

So get in the nets and keep us informed as to how you are going.

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4 Ingredients to Baking a Perfect Cricket Season

When you bake a cake you don’t wait until it’s in the oven before making it taste good. A good cake is all in the preparation.

Cricket is just the same. When you put in the work mixing the right ingredients, you know you will be proud of the results.

So, if the weeks before the season starts is the prep time of cricket, what are the ingredients?

In my mind there are 4 crucial areas.

1. General Fitness/Movement

If you imagine cricketing success to be a pyramid, then your strength, endurance, mobility and stability are the base.

At this point you are not thinking directly about cricket at all. You are just aiming to be able to move better and have stronger joints to keep injury away and have a powerful well to draw from when you get more specific.

Of course, some types of training work better than others. But you can’t go far wrong if you stick to:

2. Technical Skill

Early pre-season is a great time to improve general fitness, but you also can use it to work on your technique.

As you are so far from the season you can really get to work ironing out those technical issues that caused you a problem last year. If you don’t have a coach you can film yourself on your phone and look at what you are doing.

Then drill it out with some deliberate practice. You can easily make time in your net sessions with some prior planning.

3. Specific Fitness

As the season draws closer you can combine technical work with increases in physical demand: in other words making your training more specific.

At this point you reduce the amount of pure technical work and you pull back on the general fitness work; exactly how you do this will vary based on your needs.

 What doesn’t vary will be what you use as a replacement.

Increase the amount of running and turning you do in nets. Get more intense with your fielding drills. Bowl longer spells in overs and get some core training and stretching in when you are resting from skill based work.

4. Tactical Awareness

Finally, you need to convert all this skill and fitness into real-life match scenarios where you can practice under pressure and get used to developing a plan for all situations.

Again, with careful planning - both indoor and outdoor - you can use training games that accurately represent your matches.

Putting it all together

As you can see, this takes some planning and can be intimidating if you are not used to putting everything together either for yourself or for a team.

So I took the pain out of that by compiling the preseason advice from top coaches Rob Ahmun (Glamorgan CCC),  Shayamal Vallabhjee (former Analyst for India), Laurence Houghton (University of Western Austraila) and myself.

When you buy the Complete Cricket Preseason Training Bundle you get all the ingredients to bake your perfect winter cake.

It’s the fastest route to a different summer this time. 

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7 Warning Signs You’re Falling Out of Love with Cricket

Cricket is a game of passion. Darren Talbot has been playing for years. He noticed recently he might be getting a bit jaded. But he rekindled his love.

Here are his 7 warning signs, and one solution to the problem of falling out of love with playing cricket, especially as you enter the autumn of your career.

1. Praying for torrential rain on a Saturday morning

The Minimalist Guide to Warming Up for Cricket

Warming up is important, and there is never a more important time to warm up than in the cold of preseason training.

But we only have a short time at nets, so warm ups tend to get a lost or converted into slightly more gentle practice.

Both are a recipe for injury if unchecked, but we carry on anyway, so what’s the minimum we can get away with to stay on the park while not wasting precious deliberate practice time?


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: 185
Date: 2012-01-13