Pitchvision Academy


With the appointment of Darren Lehmann to the Aussie coach job, our attentions have turned to coaching style. What does it mean to be old school, or new school?

We examine some of these ideas that you can take to your own net sessions.

Plus, there are spin tips, advice on bowling machines and some thoughts on field settings that will... well... make you think!

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Old School Coaching vs. New School Coaching: Which is Best?


Let's talk about "old school" coaching.

What's that?

It's high on my mind recently because of the appointment of Darren Lehmann to the Australian coach position. He has been sold in the media as the "non nonsense, straight talking" option. He's not about powerpoint presentations, an injury potential matrix or any other modern coaching term. In other words, he is old school.

A lot of people are screaming in celebration that common sense has returned to coaching.

Me, I'm not so sure.

There's a general rule that says trends in coaching are like a pendulum. On one side is the "old school" way, on the other side is the "new school" way. Whenever the pendulum swings too far one way, momentum will always bring it back towards the middle.

And it is true that the pendulum seemed to have reached it's apex at the new school end. So the natural reaction is to swing back the other way and go back to the days where coaching was all about plain speaking.

But coaching - at every level - is not about old or new school. It's about results.

It's about making the most of the resources you have to get the best from your players.

If you are coaching an International team you have vast back room staff who are all basing their jobs on effectiveness. You would be a fool not to listen, process the data and direct your resources. That's all new school thinking.

If you are coaching a small grass-roots team you are probably not only coaching but also umpiring, scoring and doing 20 other things. Your practice sessions may be completely "old school" because you just don't have time or attention to do anything fancy.

So the best coaches take as much as they can from both approaches.

They drop the old school barking from the back of the net to "get your elbow up" because they know very few people learn that way.

They don't bother with player profiling because they don't have the time to go one to one with each player, and besides the team are mostly playing for fun not performance.

But they also know how to run nets effiently, to coach straight bat technique in a group in the old fashioned way. And they are able to really help players develop new shots, yorkers and mental preparation in the new ways too.

So don't count yourself as new or old. Aim to keep learning, base your coaching on evidence and always focus on results first. I reckon that's what Lehmann is doing, despite the media image.

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Bowling Machines are Like Marmite

I have a confession. I hated bowling machines as a player. I wasn't alone. Yet others loved the same thing. It really is the Marmite of cricket practice.

I found it really difficult to get the timings of my movements right and often found myself rushed and off balance at point of contact. It became very frustrating when others were enjoying every bowling machine session.

So as a coach, I set myself a challenge of finding a way to use machines so that all players could benefit from bowling machine practice by incorporating the "3 stages of effective batting" that we discuss on the ECB Level III batting module:


Stage 1: Picking up visual cues

Coaches generally feed the machine by dropping the ball into the tube.

This works really well for a number of players as they can cope with the ball disappearing into the tube and firing out of a black hole.

These types of players have a preference of focussing intently on something and react well when in pinpoint detail mode. Ask them to pick out the dimples on the ball. They will like that.

If you have a player who is blissfully happy with the normal drop into the tube then keep it up.

But some players find this hard.

These players need to focus less intently and anticipate the time that the ball is released.

So I have taught myself to mimic the bowling action and place the the ball into the tube with a straight bowling arm. The batter synchronises their movements in time with the familiar bowling action and all of a sudden they start to flow.

So if you have a player who is struggling, then try this strategy.

Stage 2: Building effective decision making skills

Grooving is good: Being game ready is better!

We all know that bowling machines are great for grooving shots and the value of hitting hundreds of drives and cuts when you are learning the skill initially is invaluable.

However, people then tend to limit themselves to this approach instead of developing functional practice that makes them ready for the demands of the game itself.

Use the handle on the machine to shift lengths to ensure that a player is having to make a decision on the length of the ball.

Move between hitting length - defend/deflect or leave - and then throw in a half volley and see if the batter recognises that this is a ball to attack.

Or if you are wanting to develop back foot decision making then deliver the ball into length with the odd back of a length ball and see if the batsman is able to decide appropriately.

This is real practice.

Use the swing modes to replicate real bowlers. Don't go silly, make it realistic as the combination of subtle swing changes and shifts in length is a great way to build decision making skills.

Stage 3: Shot execution

Once the player has tapped into their visual preference and has been challenged to develop their decision making ability, the batter is ready to execute with precision.

In my experience, if the first 2 stages are developed then the execution phase takes care of itself.

If you build these strategies into your sessions then the bowling machine is a great tool for everyone. So unlike Marmite, you can change people's minds about having a bowling machine session.

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Cricket Show S4 Episode 26: Coaching Pathways

We get up close and personal with David Hinchliffe, Mark Garaway and Burners this week, as we hear from the experiences of the team. There is great discussion on coaching, getting out of a batting rut and looking after your hands as a keeper.

Plus Garas gives us a detailed look at the new ECB coaching structure, and what it means for coaches at every level in every country. Don't miss out on this insight from one of the guys who helped develop the cutting edge structure.

Download the show or listen in your browser.



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This is show number 219.

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Spin Bowling Tips: Dealing with Multiple Flaws

Menno Gazendam is author of Spin Bowling Project. Get your free 8 week spin bowling course here

As part of my course, I ask readers to send in their questions. Here is one problem I got from Ihsaan that many other bowlers experience:

When to Copy India's Aggressive Field Settings

In a low scoring one day game, India's stand-in captain Virat Kohli, was unusually aggressive with his field settings. Is this a method you should copy?

There are certainly times when a bit of creative thinking results in unexpected fields, and results that hail you as a brilliant tactical leader.

But you need to be careful as a captain or bowler.


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: 262
Date: 2013-07-05