Pitchvision Academy


There is a brand new competition this week. You have the chance to become part of the miCoach 2009 case study. That means getting free coaching for 3 months (possibly more). Scroll down to the first article for details.

There is also all the usual stuff: The miCoach Cricket Show, an update from our future cricket star, vitamin D advice and a field setting for an off spin bowler.

There is also a complete system for designing your own fielding drills. In case you run out of miCoach ones.

Have a great weekend,


David Hinchliffe

Free coaching results (and a call for a 2009 volunteer)

The 2008 case study series was an interesting time for both miCricket Coach and the participants. I thought it might be interesting for you to see the results from the 2008 study.

I also want announce a brand new study for 2009 based on the experiences of 2008.

What was the 2008 case study?

Back in January I announced I would be offering free personalised advice to 10 club level cricketers in the UK. The advice included mental training tips, fitness advice, nutritional analysis and coaching.

After a long selection process, the participants went from February to April (preseason) being analysed and coached by me via email.

What did the participants say?

Here is a selection of how the participants found the study:

  • "It did help my cricket and I will continue to use your methods during the winter."
  • "Both I and my son took part in this case study. He had his most successful season ever in the 1st XI, picking up the young player of the year trophy. I was a member of the 2nd XI who achieved promotion, as champions of our league! All in all the study went very well and was a really worthwhile opportunity to take."
  • "This analysis though made me address both my batting and bowling - thinking through my concerns which gave me more confidence batting. I batted better than I had for years! When I bowled just felt I had more control. I went for less runs and was more confident."

Although this is a selection of comments, I can honestly say I did not get on bit of negative feedback from the participants in the study.

What did miCricketCoach say?

The response to this case study was excellent and I had to turn down many more people than I accepted.

This was a unique experience for me as coach. I have never done so much intense one on one style coaching only via email before. The largest challenging was managing the participants.

I can say that due to my underestimation of the workload there was a higher dropout rate than I would have wanted. However, the guys who stuck with it really saw the benefits both short and long term.

What happens next?

Update: The 2009 Case Study is now closed to new applications.

With the 2008 study over and overall a success I want to build on things with a brand new 2009 study: This time with an intense focus on one person.

As a volunteer I'll give you free personalised coaching on cricket skills, fitness, nutrition and mental skills. I say personalised because everyone has different fitness levels, skill, time constraints and availability of equipment. Don't worry what your circumstances are, we can adapt.

In return I'll need you to:
  • Be prepared to be part of the study for a minimum of 3 months (with the option of going on longer).
  • Follow the advice I give you via email and telephone contact.
  • Complete a diary of your experiences (this may be written, video or audio depending on your circumstances).

I can only accept people aged 18 or over. You should be a regular club cricketer (of any standard). You can live anywhere in the world. You can remain anonymous if you prefer.

If you are interested please email or call me with your name, age and location. I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

Update: The 2009 Case Study is now closed to new applications.


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6 steps to designing your own drills

Imagine sitting down at a desk, blank sheet of paper in hand and trying to come up with a brand new fielding drill.

Many give up before getting to that point. Where do you even start? If you do make one up, what if it goes horribly wrong when you do it 'live'?

With a simple process in place to follow, it's easier than you think.

Coming up with your own drills rather than going over the same old ones every week makes things more interesting everyone involved. If you are a coach you keep your players engaged and involved with the variety, if you are a player you can customise things to your specific needs. It's worth the effort.

So sit back down with that blank sheet and follow this plan to coming up with your own drill ideas.

1. What are the general considerations?

Before you even start you need to know the basic ground rules that every drill needs to have. Keep a copy of these considerations to hand when designing your drill so it doesn't go wrong when you go live.

  • Safety first. Your first thought when coming up with any drill is safety. Bats and balls can be flying around so minimise any risks and take out anything that is dangerous.
  • Everyone involved. There is nothing worse in coaching than seeing players standing around waiting to do something. Always keep everyone in the drill doing something and if you have a larger number involved make sure tasks are rotated often.
2. What's the point?

Once you have your general considerations in place you need to ask: "What is the point of this drill?"

Drills fall into one of several categories:
  • Skill development: Learning basic or advanced techniques such as bowling action, sweep shot or sliding stop.
  • Skill practice: Honing or making adjustments to learned techniques. For example, adjustments to a backlift or improving bowling accuracy.
  • Conditioning: Developing cricket specific endurance
  • Speed/Agility: Developing cricket specific speed and agility
  • Games: Adding a competitive element to skill practice

It's important not to mix up these categories as it dilutes the effectiveness of the drill.

For example, you can't learn a new skill under the fatiguing effects of a conditioning drill. It's also unsafe to try and combine speed drills with conditioning drills as the former requires much greater rest times.

On you bit of paper write at the top a clear sentence describing what the drill is for. Examples are:

  • "To learn the basic technique of the long barrier"
  • "To practice picking up and underarming the ball at the stumps"
  • "To improve speed running between the wickets"

You will notice each example has a clear single objective. You may find in designing the drill that other elements come in too, but they should never take away from the main point of the drill.

3. What are the requirements and resources?

Now you have a clear idea of the aim of the drill, you need to think what situation you are going to use it in. This includes:

  • Age and number of participants
  • Location (indoor, outdoor)
  • Equipment

You may be lucky enough to have specialist equipment like a Fusion Skyer or you may just have 20 kids, and a bag of balls of dubious quality. If you design a drill that requires more than you have, you wasted your time because you can't use it.

Also on your paper, make a note of what equipment you have, where you are going to be and who you are going to be drilling with.

4. Start simple

As you have a clear view of the point of the drill and what you have to work with, you can now start on the drill itself.

Begin by asking: What is the simplest way to achieve my objective?

As Einstein once said: "Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler." So if you can do what you need with 2 people and a ball then why get more complicated?

Sketch or write out the most simple way first. For example, if the drill is to practice high catching all you need is a ball, someone to feed it and someone to catch it.

5. Keep it going

In our throwing example above the drill would not last very long on its own. One catch and the drill is over. So the next task is to build up elements to keep the drill going.

In game type drills this is easy, you just make the basic safety rules and play as long as you like.

With other drills you will have to get more creative. Where is the ball going? What players can be in position to field it? How often do people need to change position to keep the drill going?

In our high catch example, the feeder might have a Fusion Skyer or mini bat and catching mitt to take the return and feed it back up in the air. You now have a simple, complete drill for 2 people.

You can then expand that to a drill for more people like this one.

6. Put it to the test

Finally you take your drill to the practice field and try it out. If it works then you can add it to your armoury.

If something goes wrong then take it back to the drawing board and make the changes needed to get it right. Don't worry if it all fails first time. As long as it is safe and no one got hurt, just revise your plan and take it back out there.

The real key is not to be worried about getting it wrong. You don't need to be a creative genius or impress others with complex manoeuvres. Keep it simple, keep it safe, keep everyone involved and you can start coming up with a range of drill for all situations.



If you want even more fielding techniques, tactics and animated drills from one of the best fielders in the world, check out Fielding: The Derek Randall Way on PitchVision Academy.



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Dairy of a future cricket star: A new run up

miCricketCoach reader and cricketer is a 14 year old all rounder who has already played for the UAE Under 15's, Young Talent Cricket Academy and Talent Cricket Club. In the future he plans on a long and illustrious International career. You can follow him on twitter.

My injured left wrist allowed me to attend only two of the coaching sessions held during the weekdays. I didn't attend school coaching sessions at all this week.


I attended the U.A.E. U-17 coaching. We did lots of fielding: High catches, long distance flat catches and fielding. We were told to avoid using traditional methods that require us to place some part of the body behind the ball (e.g.: long barrier). Our coach told us that having such a backup plan shows that we aren't completely confident that we can hold the ball. Most of us succeeded at charging at the ball, and fielding it without problems.


I couldn't attend coaching, but I did lots of throwing practice. I placed the stumps in the middle of an open area, and threw the ball at it from different distances and angles. I experimented a lot, and tried out techniques that I had watched in a Paul Collingwood masterclass video. A few of the important things I changed were:

  • I began using my wrist more.
  • I became better at transferring my weight onto the front leg while throwing (even though nothing was said about this in the masterclass, I could see that Collingwood's right leg was in the air after throwing).
  • I practiced the jumping start technique we had been taught at the U.A.E. coaching. Usually, before a long distance, most of us do a little dance - where we take the left leg forward and across to the right, then drag the right foot behind the left foot and then plant the left foot in front in order to throw. What we were told to do, was to take the left leg forward, and then drag the right leg forward in as straight a line as possible, only touching the ground for a short time as we took our left legs forward again to plant it and throw. The feet are placed in a straighter line for the second technique, and is used by various international players (I've seen most Australian players do it).
  • While throwing we had also been told to keep the upper part of the arm (biceps, triceps) at least parallel to the shoulder and if possible, higher up for injury prevention.
Wednesday and Thursday

We did more fielding drills on Wednesday and had another much needed rest day on Thursday.

I was finally fit to play again.

I attended coaching at the academy in the morning. However, I had to play a match for my school on short notice. It was a 30 over game, and we were bowled out for 149 in 27 overs. I opened the innings, and was out for 14. My partner was out for 3. With two of our main batsmen down, we were struggling. An excellent partnership between our 5th and 6th batsman ensured a better score. With some reckless, see-ball hit-ball slogging by the tail-enders, we managed to put up a reasonable score. However, one of the batsmen in the other team, began swinging the bat at every ball - and he was successful. He even hit a chest-high delivery to long off for six off one of our fast bowlers (it was a smaller ground though)! Even though we had a good team, they finished the match in 19 overs.

Right after that match, we had a 'birthday special' 10 over slog against the same team.

We put them to bat and got them all out for 59 in 9 overs. We bowled a tight line and length, and bowled body line to the batsman who had hit us all over the place. I managed to get one wicket only.

After lunch, I opened the batting once again - and this time we played better. Starting with a six of the first ball, we finished the match in 4 overs. I scored 30 of 13 balls and my opening partner played a few excellent shots too. We took more risks in the second innings - since most of us were tired and wanted to finish the game fast. We weren't outcome dependent; we played one ball at a time.


I attended my academy coaching. My coach at the academy is a bowling coach, and he told me that he would start 'fine-tuning' my bowling technique for optimum results. Even though I was reluctant at first, I decided to trust him because he believed that I had lots of potential, and wanted me to have a good future. He told me he would only change one thing at a time, and this week it would the most important aspect of my bowling: my run-up.

My coach thought my run-up wasn't rhythmic enough. He blamed my run up for my recent poor bowling performances. Before changing it, he threw a ball 20 to 30 yards away and asked me to run normally and pick it up. He told me that my run up should be natural, just the way I had ran to pick up that ball - I shouldn't have to think much about running up to bowl. He asked me to start slowly and build up speed with every step. I finally ended up with a rhythmic and easy run-up. I wasn't tired after two hours of bowling, I was bowling at a reasonable pace without any extra effort, and I had a lot more control over my line and length. He asked me to practice running up to bowl in this manner over the week.

Later that evening, I played a friendly match for my school against another academy. The venue was one which most of us had very little knowledge about, and most of us reached late. The match had to be reduced to 15 overs a side. The coach asked us, the openers, to stay for the full 15 overs but score runs whenever possible. After watching what the ball was doing for a couple of overs, we started pushing the ball harder. The other team had a few weak fielders whom we targeted. We played extremely powerful shots their way, and we got lots of runs.

My partner got out in the 12th over when we were 115. I got out in the next over for 66, when I mistimed a shot that was intended to be my third six. In the remaining two overs, we couldn't score much. The other team had to chase 129 in 15 overs. They turned out to be a good batting side, and were cruising until one of our bowlers turned the match around with two crucial wickets in one over.

Off the last over (which I bowled), they required 4 runs. 2 runs were needed off the last ball.

A misfield from one of our players ensured their victory.

Want to start your own training diary or log? Start one in the miCricketCoach Training Logs section today!

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Why I take vitamin D supplements, and why you should too

Ask most nutritionists about supplements for performance, health or any other reason and the stock answer is that a healthy diet requires no supplementation.

Field Settings: Off spin, old ball, good wicket, long format

This article is part of "The complete guide to cricket field settings" series.


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: 23
Date: 2008-11-28