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We all have been told about the importance of recycling, so to do his bit, Mark Garaway has written about an innovative new drill that uses old stuff you have lying around. What a hippy!

We also get serious about fitness with articles on stretching from Dr. Laurence Houghton and strength from Steffan Jones. So now you can be fit, play cricket and be happy you are saving the planet.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Save the Planet, Improve a Batsman: Recycled Batting Drill


This week I have been lucky enough have interviewed 32 excellent coaches who are all vying for ECB Level IV spots.

An innovative idea popped up twice that I reckon could be of use to batsmen who have not found a way - as yet - of freeing the swing of the bat and as a result, struggle to hit with real power.

This drill is a bag of tricks!

One coach spoke to me about getting the groundsman to fill a rubble sack with old sawdust and ask a batter to stand in front of it in their usual stance. Another coach talked about the same drill using a bag full of recycled clothes or worn out curtains.

The batter would then swing the bat in their usual fashion and hit the sack.

The coach then asked the batter to describe the feeling of hitting the sack and to make note of the sound the bat made as it struck the sack or bag.

This provided a reference point for the player and gave the coaches an insight into:

  • the technical awareness of the player
  • the language patterns that he/she preferred to use.

The player was asked to swing again, this time to make a louder noise as the bat hits the object.

The batter then reports the sound and their feelings back to the coach with feedback on how they believe they could produce more bat speed and more power.

To enhance the drill, stick 2 pieces of tape on the sack/bag to mark a cross and asked the player to strike the cross with the middle of their bat whilst making as louder sound and getting as strong a feeling of power from their kinaesthetic awareness.

Verbal cues make can all the difference

One of the coaches stated that there were occasions where the player would either overswing and lose accuracy which was indicated by limited accuracy on the cross or alternatively, become a little timid this reducing the sound and kinaesthetic feedback.

If a player focuses on what they felt in their feedback then link your own language to theirs.

"What would happen if you got lower by bending your legs and drove your hips towards the target as you swing?" was one question that a coach used that elicited a positive response.

Another player spoke about becoming tense when they focused hard on the cross or target, so the coach responded with "this time, pretend that a bowler is bowling and track the ball to make contact with it around the location of the cross?"

Again, the response was positive in freeing up the swing and the player also noted a more accurate strike on the cross.

Repeat the drill until a level of consistency is achieved and then introduce some underarm feed in a net environment or where you have space.

I would be intrigued to hear about the players swing and power after that drill?

Could your bag of curtains be used in warm up ahead of a mid order batters T20 innings? Just an idea...

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If You Don't Stretch, You're Not a Cricketer

This is a guest article by Dr Laurence Houghton.

During the last decade there has been a shift in cricket fitness that has seen the end of static stretching in warm-ups. Nowadays it's all about "dynamic" stretching. This is a great development but it’s a concern that this trend encourages cricketers to entirely remove static stretching from their routine. The aim of this article is to argue otherwise!


Yes, it is true that sport science suggests that performing static stretches as part of a warm-up may decrease subsequent power development.

However, the key is that the decrement in performance as a result of static stretching will be temporary and performance is restored after approximately 10 minutes. So while dynamic stretching is essential, especially for fast bowlers and opening batters who know exactly when they will need to maximise power, it's no reason to cut out the static stretch.

The benefits of long-term static stretching for cricket include:

  1. Possible reduction in injury risk and earlier awareness of potential niggles.
  2. Improved power production. The production of power and speed requires use of the "stretch-shortening cycle": the muscle (force producer) and tendon (elastic material connecting muscle to bone) will stretch, storing elastic energy for use in the muscular contraction (shortening) that follows. As a result the total force output will be greater than if a contraction occurred without the prior stretch. This stretching enables storing of elastic energy and enhancement of subsequent neuro-muscular activation. A practical example of this would be in a batsman’s backlift: during this coiling, elastic energy is stored as the muscle-tendon-units stretch (in the cocked, top-hand forearm) and is used to enhance bat speed during the downswing. These types of movements benefit from the increased range of motion and decreased tendon viscosity that result from stretch training.
  3. Increased range of motion, allowing body to get into better positions to benefit technical execution of skills. Watch an Olympic weight lifter. It’s clear that high power generation is required. A limited range of motion would prevent the lifter getting into effective start and catch positions. Now, consider playing a front foot drive. Technically, we know it’s important for the batsman to get his head and weight over the ball. Take a look at the two different batsmen in the photos below. Compared to Batsman B (72°), Batsman A (80°) is limited by his ankle/calf flexibility, restricting range of motion and stopping the forward transfer of weight into the ball. Also, the increased range of motion in Batsman B’s calf may also contribute to getting more weight over the ball (click to enlarge the image).

The importance of incorporating stretching as a foundation of your training routine cannot be emphasised enough.

You should aim to incorporate regular static stretching three times a week for 15-25 minutes. It's simple, easy and can be done almost anywhere with no equipment, so you have little excuse?

What kind of stretching you do for cricket specific improvements? You can get the full routine that we use at ACE Cricket Academy in Perth - where I am Strength and Conditioning Coach - by clicking here.

About the Author: Dr Laurence Houghton is a sports scientist and strength and conditioning coach (ACE Cricket Academy, Northamptonshire County Cricket Club). He is the inventor of the BATEX batting fitness app.

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Cricket Show S4 Episode 29: Preventing Back Pain

It's common to blame Twenty20 for batsmen who can't play long innings (Australians especially), but is it true and how do you overcome the issue? We examine the facts on the show this week.

Turns out it's not as simple as blaming cross bat slogging. Who knew?

Plus, questions are answered on pain with week. One bowler and one slip fielder, both with back issues that Mark Garaway and David Hinchliffe discuss on the show.


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This is show number 222.

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What Type of Fast Bowler Are You?

This is a guest article from Steffan Jones

As you already know, there is no one type of fast bowler, but they all have one thing in common: all fast bowlers want to bowl faster.

So although the goal is the same, the way to reach that goal varies depending on the type of bowler. Training the right way for your type makes a huge difference to your performance.

When it comes to training there are 3 types of bowler:

How to Plot a Stumping

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

Stumping is a way you can get one up on your quick buddies. It's an extra dismissal type that quick bowlers do not have access.

The things about stumpings are that many spin bowlers do not plan for it. They simply see it as something that happens when the batsmen charges them and misses the ball.

While I do love the fact when a batsman looks silly after charging me and getting stumped you do not have to wait for moments like this to get them stumped.


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: 265
Date: 2013-07-26