Pitchvision Academy


There is a focus on cricket fitness in this newsletter, with Steffan Jones talking about the role of Strength and Conditioning in the game, and a frustration he has with the definition of good training. Plus we give you a free workout to try.

With the IPL in full swing, we also examine the role of the keeper in the modern game, and what you can learn from the superstar-fuelled tournament about wicketkeeping.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Pietersen's Chin, Ronaldo's Feet and the Wide Stance 8 Year Old


You are the coach. What do you do?

An 8 year old walks into a junior session for the first time and gets into a batting stance with his feet wide apart and his knees flexed.

There is a temptation to adjust the stance into a more conventional narrower stance as seen in MCC manuals from years gone by.

But is that right?

I know that I have done exactly that in the past, but ask yourself the question: Why does that player stand like that?

There is a good chance that the player finds his wider stance more comfortable, natural and balanced giving him a position to spring out and whack the ball with power!

So is it right for us to take these attributes away from the batter when it feels like the natural thing for him to do?

Good coaches observe; great coaches notice

So what do we notice in a natural young talent who prefers a wider stance with flexed knees?

Firstly, that the heels have a strong contact with the ground.

Players like this tend to "push off from the ground" rather than "lean into" shots using their head and front shoulder. Most manuals, and most coaches, encourage everyone to do the latter.

But some people initiate movement differently to the ball.

Secondly, you may notice that players like this hit with their chin up at point of contact rather than the conventional chin down (with top of the head on view to the bowler from the front).

"Chin up" players have a lower visual field (naturally angled down towards the ground) and therefore, do not need to dip their head to keep their eye on the ball coming into contact.

Incidentally, this is the complete opposite to my visual field where I need to play with my chin down in order to see the ball come into contact whether I'm catching or hitting.

Where is the evidence?

It's the same across all sports. In soccer Ronaldo and Messi lead with their head with the ball at their feet. Tevez and Beckham push off from the ground

What differences do you notice with their head positions when in control of the ball?

Which direction are their eyes appearing to look in?

I know what you are saying.

"I want cricket proof, Garas."

Look at this picture of Kevin Pietersen driving the ball off of the front foot (taken from Keep Calm and Smash It):

Then compare his head position and direction of his eyes with the point of contact positions of Andrew Strauss or Ricky Ponting.

what differences do you notice?

What stances do the two pairs of batters take prior to ball release?

KP has a wide base with flexed knees and pushes off to move. His chin is up at contact.

Straussy and Punter have narrower stances, less flexion in their knees and lean into the ball to move with the chin down at contact.

So, here is the 8 year old standing in his natural stance.

What do you do now?

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The Myth of Cricket Fitness

This is a guest article from Steffan Jones

There's a lot of confusion around strength, conditioning and fitness for cricket. Today I want to give you my perspective as a former first-class fast bowler turned strength coach.

The role of strength and conditioning, or S&C, for all cricketers is to improve your performance. Injuries are handled by the physio. In a nutshell, one builds you the other fixes you!

There is a balance to be found. Of course it's vital not to push too far and cause problems, but you also must do enough to get a performance increase. Yes, there is a risk of injury because you're putting external stress on the body, but as long as you make sure the right stress is applied at the right time, it's a calculated risk to make you better.

The worst thing you can do is spend all your fitness time doing "prehab" work in the name of injury prevention and at the cost of enhancing performance. That will not cut it.

Prehab is only a small part of the session. It is vital to activate and stabilise certain smaller muscles in the body, and increase your mobility at key joints. The core is not just a buzz phrase as it is crucial to lower back and shoulder health. It should never dominate your training.

Without a proper periodised program that is designed to make you stronger - and therefore faster, more powerful, and better conditioned - your performance will not be improved on the field.

That's what separates a good S&C plan with an adequate one; having the knowledge and confidence to push yourself as far as possible safely. To do that you have to know yourself and your body well through putting in the hours in the gym as well as at the nets.

From fitness to technique, and back

Many critics will say that this approach takes players away from the most important aspects of learning good cricket technique.

This just is not true. I have trained dozens of fast bowlers from schoolboy to professional level since I retired, and in every case when the player got stronger, he also became a better cricketer.

I admit that my methods are specifically designed to take gym strength onto the field with specific plans to develop arm speed and transfer of power into the ball. You don't always find that to be the case and perhaps that is where the critics are right.

Where they are wrong is saying that technique is the most important element. I have even heard people say it is the only thing.

Technique isn't the only thing, its a small thing in your development.

You need to get good at the basics, but modern coaching is not about creating textbook templates, it's about building technique for your own body, style and game.

If technique was the only thing, women cricketers with excellent actions would be bowling as quick as men. The reason there is such a difference is speed is all down to how much more strength elite male bowlers have compared to elite female bowlers.

This fact proves the value of high performance strength and power training for all cricketers at all levels.

You can find out more about my proven methods, and download your copy of my plan for fast bowlers by clicking here.

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Cricket Show S4 Episode 14: Planning Your Coaching

Mark Garaway and David Hinchliffe get together to discuss cricket, coaching and coping in cold weather.

The team answer your questions and comments on building an innings, how to control seam position and structuring junior cricket training sessions.


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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This is show number 207.

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Coaching the IPL: Wicketkeeping Techniques

In Twenty20 the wicketkeeper is often considered to be a batsman who keeps his pads on while fielding. A stopper not a show stopper.

But in IPL 6, Dishant Yagnik showed the value of an athlete and technician as keeper.

Yagnik spent a lot of time standing back to the quick men. That is a skill that requires good hands and athletic movement. In match 8 for Rajasthan against KKR he showed these skills to dismiss the danger man Gambhir.

Gambhir had walked down the wicket to force the pace, slashed at a wide ball outside off stump that flew at height to Yagnik's left.

Cricket Fitness Workout: The Mixup

This series is part of the Cricket Fitness Workouts series. For the full list, click here.

This is a gym workout designed specifically for cricketers to use to improve overall fitness: Strength, conditioning and power.

It's great for fast bowlers and batsmen especially but can be used by any discipline.


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: 250
Date: 2013-04-12