Pitchvision Academy


Accuracy is crucial to bowling success, so this week we help you establish a repeatable action that will lead to more accurate bowling.

We also have a brilliant warm up for cricketers, a guide to creating a strong changing room from Mark Garaway and tips on improving your confidence when batting.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

How to Get a Repetitive Bowling Action

Accuracy gets wickets: Glenn McGrath, Zaheer Khan, Veron Philander and many others at the highest level have proven the method.

Alongside pace, there is nothing more important to the quick bowler.

But accuracy is difficult. You have to run up and hit a very small target area time and time again. Any weakness in your action is revealed by poor balls that take the pressure off the batsman. You end up frustrated by a good over that is ruined by a wide half volley then a leg stump long hop as you try and compensate.

Then you have to walk shamefully down to fine leg and fume about it for an over before you get another go.

You go to nets hoping to find some form and rhythm, but you are never quite sure if your action is becoming repetitive.

You know that with a repeatable action you will be the go-to bowler in the team. You just need to be able to trust yourself to bowl 6 accurate balls and over.

Here is how you get there:
1. Run up

Every time you run up you should have the same feeling; that you are in control and you are reaching a speed that feels correct. If you are constantly running up with a fear in the back of your mind that you are not comfortable then you will never get your action right.

Measure your run up by taking time in nets to run away from the bowling crease. When you feel ready to bowl, mark the jump off point. Repeat this enough times and you will find a consistent point. This is your start point for your run up.

Measure it (with a tape measure) and make sure it’s marked at both ends before play.

2. Load up

Accuracy begins in your bound to the crease.  The aim is to keep your upper body as tight as possible. If your arms are flailing around you are adding needless movement to you action.

As you can see in the picture above, the bowler has lined up his bowling arm with his eyes and his non bowling arm with the line he wants to bowl.

There is much variation of this position between bowlers in the bound, but the really accurate bowlers are always tight in and keeping the both hands in view and both elbows and hands in line with the target.

If you get this wrong there is a high chance you will bowl off line. So video yourself or get someone to watch your elbow and hand position in your bound.

If it needs correcting, you can use the three knee drill from Ian Pont, focusing on getting your arm position lined up correctly. Walk through it first until you get the feel right before moving to a jog and finally running up as normal.

4. Line up

If your approach is good and you are aligned well in the bound you need to look at the actual action itself.

There are several alignment problems a bowler can have as she moves through the crease, but the most common is the front - or non-bowling - arm. Here the arm doesn’t come down straight towards the target, so you are far less able to bowl straight. You have a kink in your gun barrel.

Many bowlers find this simple to correct as soon as the fault is pointed out. However if you struggle to get this right, take your action back to a one-step drill.

Stand at the crease without a run up and bowl, working on bringing your front arm down straight. If you need assistance you can get a team-mate or coach to pull your front arm down straight until you get the feel:

5. Release

Up until now we have mostly been talking about line because bowling a good line is all about body alignment. However, length is all about when you release the ball.

If you let the ball go too early in your action you bowl full. If you let go too late you bowl short. This is a very subtle feel different but makes for a huge variation in length at the other end.

Working on length becomes a lot easier when you have the alignment of your action grooved into place.  Then you can focus in the point you let the ball go without worrying about the rest of your body.

The great news is that length practice is easy to get instant feedback. Lay down cones or use PitchVision to track length and then experiment with when you are releasing the ball. You can adjust in practice as much as you like.

This is also why you should bowl a couple of warm up overs before games to get that length release point feel back again. If you have practiced it hard enough it will be locked into your muscle memory and won’t take you long to lock back into place.

If you want more fast bowling accuracy and consistency drills, enrol on the online coaching course Consistency and Rhythm: Fast Bowling Technique from former-England bowler Andy Caddick. It contains video drills used by the Somerset man to be highly successful. 

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How to Make Your Changing Room Your Fortress


When your cricket team is batting, the role of the changing room and balcony is to ensure that the next batter goes into the wicket feeling focused, relaxed and positive.

This is irrespective of the challenge that he is walking into.

It is our job as coaches to protect that environment; to educate the players in appropriate winning language and behaviours because they facilitate excellent performances from your players in the toughest of circumstances.

Here are a few tips:


Keep the team together

Nothing infuriates me more than seeing players scattered around the ground, some playing boundary flag bowls whilst your team-mates are battling away in the middle for the team.

We should sit together as a group: discuss the game situation, what are the viable scoring options and talk positively throughout as this keeps focus, helps players to prepare effectively and also gives a message to the opposition that you’re a team to be reckoned with.

While at times, players need some space to reflect or prepare in their own way, the bulk of the team should be together.

I have a rule that says a minimum of 7 players should be together at any given point and normally there are more than that watching at any given  point.

Face 10 balls

When the environment is right and the focus has been achieved you can promote the notion that it is the responsibility of the incoming batter to be 10 balls into their innings as they take strike.

By that I mean that they have already assessed the pitch conditions, challenges, field settings, bowler’s skills etc to the extent that they are mentally 10 balls into their innings as they stride to the crease.

There is nothing worse than putting yourself under pressure by working it out as you go along, ball by ball. Your strike rate is poor, the rate is going through the roof, your partner at the other end has  been starved of strike so is becoming restless and the changing room gets nervous watching you.

The pressure is mounting.

Decision making becomes fuzzy and then you’re walking back after a horrendous shot. All of this can be avoided through protecting your environment on the balcony and installing solid mental processes with your players.

Build confidence in team-mates

I do whatever I can to limit the inane mickey-taking between team-mates. It may be meant in jest, but when was the last time someone made a joke or remark about you which boosted your self confidence or belief?

I remind the players that the worst thing you can ever do to a team-mate is to tear away at their belief.

 It's everyone's role in the team to build team-mate belief. So, if one of your player’s individual belief drops then that will have a negative effect on the team performance. So boost and galvanise belief always: never erode it!

The other thing to remember is that the mickey-taker is generally the insecure and weak one trying to cover up their own failings by highlighting someone else's.

Chase down targets

One excellent game for the balcony or changing room when chasing a target down is to place 1 paper cup on a ledge or window sill for every 10 runs you are chasing down. Every time you accrue those 10 runs you knock a cup down until there are none left and the game is won.

This is a good method of breaking a total into manageable chunks. You get a sense of achievement in the changing room and in the middle with each knocked off cup. It becomes a focus that works.

Establish a positive balcony and changing room environment using these tactics and tips and watch your individual and batting team performances soar.  

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Cricket Show 168: Cutters are All in Your Mind

 The Olympics are looming, and while cricket is not an Olympic sport it will be making an appearance at the opening ceremony for London 2012. The team get their teeth into Olympic Cricket this week.

Burners, David Hinchliffe and Mark Garaway also dig into the mailbag to answer questions on mental strength and playing cutters. As usual the answers are not from the textbook.

Plus Burners is liberal with his definition of a minute, and we re-coin a fielding position phrase in the Tailender.


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What Alanis Morrisette Knows About Cricket Confidence

I got this email from a reader recently:

“I have read your articles on staying calm and relaxed at the crease but they don't seem to work. I have the ability but completely lack confidence in the middle. Please help!”

 I can hear the frustration in that email. I’ve seen it countless times before; the batter nervously waiting for his turn, already thinking about how he might get himself out or how the bowler is too good for him.

Heck, I’ve been there myself. In fact, much better players than me have.

It reminded me of the Canadian Singer Alanis Morrissette. She sings a song called You Oughta Know on the album Jagged Little Pill.

And here is what you oughta know.

Cricket Fitness Workout: Warm Up

In this series, we give you a sample workout you can use from the extensive database of cricket fitness programmes at PitchVision Academy. To see the full list, click here.

As this is a new series, we will start with the warm up. That’s because - for most cricketers - the warm up is the last thing on the list when it comes to improving skill or fitness.


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: 209
Date: 2012-06-29