Pitchvision Academy


I'm delighted to bring back two guests to the newsletter this week to help you improve your cricket.

Adam Kelly is a sport psychologist and cricketer who is doing his PhD research on using psychology to improve performance; he writes up his findings. Meanwhile Strength Coach John Cook talks about the role of strength and power in the quest to bowl faster.

Plus Mark Garaway talks slower balls and we examine how to train, even under the stressful moments that life throws up.

Have a great (and stress-free) weekend,

David Hinchliffe

How to Use Sport Psychology to Enhance your Coaching


This is a guest article from coach and PhD candidate Adam Kelly.

The traditional image is that coaching is about developing the techniques of batting, bowling and fielding.

But another way to define coaching is, 'performance-improvement technique'. So coaches should use any technique that enhances performance.

Using psychological techniques in your coaching will enhance the learning curve of your athletes. Here are several methods you can add to your coaching:

1. Self-talk

Everyone talks to himself or herself, every time you say something that is not directed at another person that’s self-talk. When you are walking with a song stuck in your head that is self-talk.

Self-talk has been shown to work in skill development within football, basketball and many other sports. Neil Jenkins - the British Lions and Wales kicker Rugby Union- used cue word of 'rhythm' when kicking in practice and competition.

But how can we use this to develop skills?

In my dissertation I analyse the self-talk of international fast bowlers. I discovered they use self-talk to tell themselves where to bowl. Examples are 'Get the Yorker full' and 'hit the top of off stump'.

Notice that they focus on what they want to do and avoid saying 'don't' bowl here or there.

They also use self-talk to develop technical issues. Examples are 'stay tall' and 'drive through the crease'. Notice that they are again telling themselves what they want to achieve.

So while you coach you need to find out what the players are saying to themselves. Then focus on saying what they want to achieve.

2. Imagery

Imagery is one of the most powerful psychological skills. If used correctly it enhances learning and performance at all levels.

Our brains store information like a slide show. If we can imagine performing a skill in enough detail the brain will think it is performed the skill.

Michael Phelps - 18 times Olympic champion - imagines the perfect race and has been doing so since he was 7 years old. Jonny Wilkinson imagines a women reading a newspaper in the stands behind the goal as a target to hit.

The key to imagery is to incorporate all the senses into the image. This helps athletes familiarise themselves with the skill before it is executed. Using the demonstration as reference points ask the athletes to image themselves executing the skill.

For example, take a front foot drive;

Feel your feet on the ground and your weight evenly balanced. You feel the warm sun on your skin. You can smell the freshly cutgrass. Your head is level as you see the bowler running in. You feel the weight of the bat in your hands and forearm as you lift the bat. You see the ball leave the bowlers hand and coming towards you. You move your front foot forward, feeling your foot pushing off the ground and landing again, your back foot is on the tip of your big toe. The whole time your watching the ball. You move you bat down feeling the momentum as your bat moves down and the forearm holding the bat high and straight. You see the ball bounce and then make contact with the bat. You feel the ball in the ‘sweat’ spot on the bat and watch the ball fly off the face of the bat.

Get all the senses involved, write this down in an 'imagery script' (details on doing that in this online course) and the imagery should take the same time as the event happens in 'real' life.

3. Attention

Attention and concentration are different. Concentration is just part of attention (the ability to maintain focus). The other parts are 'selection of stimuli' and 'mental time-sharing' ability.

How often do we hear commentators say 'he has lost his concentration'?

As coaches we know it is important for our athletes to concentrate on the right stimuli (i.e. the ball when batting).

But how do we help athletes understand this?

Follow these steps;

  1. Concentrate for the time the ball is in play or the drill which is being run.
  2. Tell the athletes what stimuli to select.
  3. How long to spend on each stimuli (time-sharing).

For example, slip catching. Tell the fielder, once in the base position, to concentrate on the bowler until release, then concentrate on the batsmen. WHen the ball is edged, concentrate on the ball and 'nod' (nodding the head helps watch the ball all the way) into your hands.

The key message to deliver is about where to concentrate, how long for and what stimuli to pay attention to.

Adam Kelly has played county cricket for Somerset, Worcestershire and Northamptonshire, Wiltshire. Adam is currently working on his PhD theis in sport psychology: 'Investigation into pre-delivery routines in cricket batsmen'. You can read his blog here.

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3 Slower Balls that Work in India (and Everywhere)

Slower balls and speed variations are important now more than ever where pitches are so flat that conventional swing bowling has a limited window of impact.

Here are 3 variations, as demonstrated by bowlers who have become masters of the slower ball.

Michael Kasprowicz: Cutters

"Kasper" was an excellent swing bowler yet made a huge impact in sub-continent conditions by undercutting the ball using an off cutting motion.

Tactically, he mixed this delivery with a fast straight ball keeping the stumps in danger constantly.

This mode of attack was supported by a man on the legside drive in a 5/4 offside field and squeezed the opposition whilst creating chances on a regular basis.

In recent years, Lasith Malinga has incorporated this into his armoury with his low bowling arm being perfectly suited to this delivery type.

Jade Dernbach: Over the top

Jade Dernbach has mastered inverting his wrist at point of release, effectively delivering the ball with the fingers in front of the ball rather than behind at point of release.

Certain plays find this easy as they have great levels of dexterity when their hands are away from their body, I'm sure that you have at least one of these players in your squad, so offer them this option.

Practice by flicking the ball in pairs back and forth in a style similar to the way a leg-spinner will work on new variations.

Jade Dernbach really pulls his front side towards the ground in order to allow his bowling arm to be perpendicular at release (12 o'clock rather than conventional 1 o'clock for right arm or 11 o'clock for left arm).

Dilhara Fernando: Split finger ball

Fernando holds the ball lightly in his fingers in his approach but remaining in a similar position to his usual swinging delivery. As he reaches his bound, he pushes the underside of the ball hard and this forces the ball to squeeze between the two fingers on the top of the ball.

The lack of contact with the back of the ball means that it has less force behind it and as a result the ball comes out slower.

What are the common these with these balls?

First, the best slower balls dip on the batter. this tends to happen when the bowlers arm speed is maintained or in some cases, actually speeds up.

Many club players slow their bowling arm speeds yet this often gives the game away visually, means that the ball does not dip on the batter and that control is lost.

Second, all slower ball deliveries require huge amounts of practice and perseverance.

Players such as Kasprowicz, Fernando and Dernbach are constantly working on their execution in the nets but more importantly flicking balls from hand to hand or forcing the ball through their fingers whilst sitting in the changing rooms.

What natural variations can your players find easy to try?

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Cricket Show 188: How to Take 5 Wickets

MCC President Philip Hodgson is interviewed this week by Martin Gleeson of Cricket India Academy. They talk cricket in Afganistan and Sri Lanka.

Burners plans his trip to Mumbai and David Hinchliffe and Mark Garaway answer coaching questions on taking 5 wicket hauls and the catching relationship between first slip and the wicketkeeper.


How to Send in Your Questions

If you want to win a cricket coaching prize, you need to send in your burning questions to the show. If your question is the best one we give you a free online cricket coaching course!

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Ranji Trophy Tips: 7 Ways to Train Under Stress

Whatever level of cricket you play, you will recognise the pressure faced by cricketers playing in the current Ranji Trophy.

The tournament is typified by many games wedged into a short period, but as a player you are expected to be at your peak the whole time.

PV Coach Aaksash Chopra often talks about his stressful experiences

No wonder elements like gym work and healthy eating get cast aside when you are hit by the firehose of playing, travelling and nets without rest.

Fitness for Fast Bowlers Made Simple (Part 2)

This is the 2nd part of John Cook's guest spot on PitchVision Academy. Part 1 talked through the rationale for training and mobility. In this part we complete the picture.

A second attribute of fitness you can work on as a fast bowler is strength.

But where do we need strength and what is the best way to develop this?


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: 229
Date: 2012-11-16