Pitchvision Academy


We look at coaching in more detail in this newsletter with articles on coaching high catching, building a support team and Long Term Athlete Development. We also get a chance to preview the IPL and find out how to make the best from a rubbish cricket ball.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

How to Make a Bad Cricket Ball Swing

A fellow coach and I were speaking last night about a perennial problem in our team: the ball stops swinging very early.

We blame the quality of the balls. This happens every season. The new ball wobbles a little but the deviation soon ends, often after as little as 10 overs.

But it’s not just about the ball. So here are 4 ways you can make a “bad” ball swing.


1. Use your wrist

Here’s a simple fact; if you get your wrist behind the ball when you are bowling it’s much more likely to swing.

But learning how to get your wrist behind the ball consistently takes a lot of work. Some people are instinctively good at it. They are the bowlers who seem to be able to make it swing round corners at any stage of the game. But those players are rare beasts and most amateur level players just never work on wrist position.

So experiment with getting the right feel for inswing and outswing while keeping your wrist behind the ball. It’s a good way to use net time that might otherwise be misused.

2. Change pace

The science of swing is not exact, but one thing the boffins do know is that there are optimal speeds for the ball to swing. This means your stock pace may be fine when the ball is new, but is too fast for it to swing when the ball loses its shine.

So experiment with pace variations. You may find slowing down a little makes the ball swing. On the other hand, you may find bending your back has the same effect. The seamers should be constantly looking for that optimal pace, and be aware that the number will vary as the ball ages and weather changes.

3. Change length

It’s a cliché to say the fuller you bowl, the more the ball swings but it’s also true. Many bowlers are afraid of the half volley and pepper the back of a length and shorter areas, wasting the chance to make the ball swing.

Whether it’s your natural length to bowl a touch short or not, you should always look to bowl a fuller ball early on when slips are in place. Even a half volley that swings can take a wicket.

If the fuller ball doesn’t swing, go fuller still. That fraction longer in the air could make a difference and the most it will cost you is a couple of boundaries before you return to your original plan.

4. Take care of the ball

This is a huge one. A quick rub of the shiny side with your sweaty palms all over the rough side of the ball is not going to work.

The ball needs to be treated like a precious object.

Designate someone as the ball shiner and keep everyone else’s hands off the ball unless they are fielding it. Make sure that sweat stays off the ball by carefully handling it and be obsessive about keeping it clean and dry.

This makes a massive difference come the later stages of the innings.

There is never a time to give up on making the ball swing. I have seen a ball do nothing from overs 12-35 before a little occasional medium pacer comes on and bananas it round corners.

Yes, there will be times where the ball just will not swing, but if you are doing everything you can technically and tactically you know you will be a step ahead of the opposition, and that will help you win more matches. 

image credit: Chris Turner

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The Sky is not the Limit: How to Train Players to be Safe Under the High Ball

There are more balls hit into the air now that at any other time in cricket history. Matches and tournaments can be won and lost on the ability of a team or individual player to cling onto a Skyer.  So it is vital for us to develop the skills of our players to cope with this aerial onslaught.


The development of the shorter formats, T20 in particular, has led to batters increasing their aerial scoring options. Bats are specifically developed to pack more punch into the hitting zone. The power play regulations have led to more balls being hit up into the stratosphere and as a consequence, more opportunities to get under a high catch.

When I coached at Somerset, we made high catching our priority and it helped us to win the Twenty20 Cup. In the final alone, both Mal Loye and Freddie Flintoff were dismissed in the first 3 overs of the game through well judged and well taken skyer catches.

The ease that the players took those match winning catches came as a result of their efforts within specific fielding drills.

The Coaches High Catching Kit Bag

  • 1 Fusion Skyer or Gray Nicholls Cloudcatcher
  • 1 Set of Cones
  • 3 - 6 soft, beaten up cricket balls (appropriate sizing for your age group)
  • 3 - 6 newer cricket balls
  • 3 - 6 Hard Tennis Balls
  • 3 - 6 incrediballs
  • 1 Tennis Racquet

Most high balls are dropped due to poor body position rather than poor hands. Effective footwork leads to good body positioning which in turn results in increased catching success.

Fielders should attempt to catch every opportunity with the hands and head close together. This increases control and ultimately facilitates effective catching.

Effective footwork enables a fielder to line up the ball early and ensure that the head and hands are in the right place to take the dropping ball.

Make a note of the catches that get caught in International and IPL Cricket on the TV over the coming weeks and see how many safe catches are made when the head and the hands are in close proximity.

As soon as we have to stretch for a ball we are more likely to drop it, therefore, footwork to get under the flight of the ball is vital.

You will hear me saying "Make your ground!" in most of my sessions; encouraging and positively cueing the players to use their feet effectively to get under the flight of the ball as early as possible.

One Handed Skyer Catching Drill

Graeme Smith bought this drill to me over from South Africa and I love it. The drill is great fun, players love it because it both challenges them and develops them under the high ball.

The coach hits the hard tennis ball into the air. The fielder is only allowed to take the catch with one hand. This naturally increases the task difficulty and as a result the fielder will instinctively do the following things:

  1. Use their feet effectively and get right under the flight of the ball
  2. Look to catch end ball at eye level and above (a good thing!)

It is a great drill as then I ask the players for feedback and they tell me these key coaching points which are both vital when catching the high ball.

I will emphasise the importance of both points at the time and then reiterate them over and over again throughout the remainder of the fielding session.

You can progress the drill by doing the following:
  • Increase height of the ball
  • Increase the distance a player has to run to get under the flight of that all
  • Vary the starting position of the fielder (using cones as a starting marker) so that they are approaching the ball from different angles. This means that each fielder can practice catches Over each shoulder, from the right, from the left and running in.
  • Progress from hard tennis ball and tennis racquet to softer/old cricket balls and a Fusion Skyer/Gray Nicholls Cloud Catcher
  • Nominate the hand that needs to catch the ball as the ball is struck (decision making development and footwork pressured)
  • Occluded Catch - player away from the hitter and turns as he/she hears the contact of ball on bat. The player then has to locate the ball in the sky and use good footwork to get under the flight of the ball.

Every now and again, ask the fielders to catch the ball 2 handed. The players make it look so easy when they go to 2 hands as they have trained themselves to use their feet to get under the flight of the ball and to make contact with the ball level or above the line of their eyes.

Finish each session with a few rounds of 2 handed high catches and monitor the results.

Give it a go, start them off slowly and then build in the progressions as the player’s skill, competence and confidence grows. 

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Cricket Show 155: Becoming a Professional Cricket Coach

With the IPL set to get underway, the team discuss Twenty20 cricket from the top to the grassroots and come up with some creative ideas for using the newest format.

Plus it wouldn’t be a podcast without your questions, so David Hinchliffe and Mark Garaway discuss fitness work in the last few days of preseason and how to become a professional cricket coach (even if you have not been a professional cricketer).


The Yes/No Round is the latest feature on the Cricket Show. Let the team know what you think by emailing in your own!


How to Get in Touch With the Show

Our contact email can be found here.

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Build a Backroom Staff for Your Team on a Tight Budget

Modern professional cricket teams have a support team of analysts and specialists that the average side can only dream about.

Except, if you build it right, you can have a team that helps your side become the best they can be. And you don’t need to pay a bean in salary.

If you can build a diverse group of people with different levels of experience and success, you’ll be 100% more likely to score more runs, take more wickets and win more games.

The Truth about LTAD for Cricket

From parents to coaches; a lot of people care about producing the next generation of high-class cricketers.

We certainly do on PitchVision Academy.

That’s why Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) is attractive: it’s a governing-body approved model for what to teach and when to teach it.

But that strength is also a weakness.

LTAD is a just model. It has really only been around for 10 years. There is little proof that it works.


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: 196
Date: 2012-03-30