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You might not think that an American politician has anything to say about cricket, especially a made up American politician. But if you read between the lines of House of Cards you find some insights from Frank Underwood that you can apply to your batting. Read the article to find out more.

Plus we look into fielding drills with Mark Gararway and spin bowling with Menno Gazendam.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

How to Use the "Simpson Drill" to Teach Throwing Skills


Last weekend I headed up a great group of cricket coaches at Sportsfest 2013 in the grounds of Wormsley Estate.

I was working with a group on throwing and they were struggling with both their alignments and also to understand my instruction.

My fellow coach, Ian Simpson, asked if he could do something with them and within 2 minutes he transformed their experience, understanding and ultimately, their performance.

The Simpson Drill

Initially, this is a stationary ball drill with intervention poles, cones or obstacles that train the thrower to align the feet, hips and shoulders to her target.

The player starts on a cone, runs towards the ball, picking it up and then has to channel their movement and energy through and out the other-side of a narrow corridor which is aligned with the target area.

Any obstacle will do. We found that intervention poles (as used with bowlers) are good at it promotes the body to stay upright throughout the throw. But if you don't have intervention poles then cones or discs are fine.

The Simpson Drill Progressions

  1. Change the angle of approach. to simulate moving left or right to the ball.
  2. Set up 3 "Simpson drill" corridors of different colours or numbers. A colour/number is called by the coach. You then have to head as fast as you can to the corresponding coloured/numbered corridor and execute your technique and skill. This incorporates decision making skills, an essential attribute if you want to be a top fielder
  3. Incorporate a moving ball: Ask a coach or someone else who is practising the same drill, to roll a ball through the corridor so that you meet it prior to then aligning yourself to go back through the corridor towards your target. The roll may have to be made from close to the corridor entrance in order to make the drill effective yet any ball momentum into the pick up makes it game specific.
  4. Add in some functional movement patterns:
    • Start in a prone position, face down and pop up: utilises core, upper body and legs
    • Start in a prone position face up. Again, core, upper body and legs are incorporated in this movement.
    • Place 4 intervention poles or cones in a tight line. The fielder has to shimmy quickly between the poles/cones before approaching the ball and aligning themselves with the corridor and target.
    • 2 cones about 5 meters apart to form a goal. Underarm balls to the opposite side of the goal that you have created. The fielder moves across, flicks the ball back in an underarm fashion and you roll another ball to the other side of the goal. Repeat this twice and once the 4th ball is flicked back the fielder then moves quickly to the corridor and executes the Simpson Drill.
    • 5 short catches into Simpson Drill.

And the list could go on!

Thanks to Ian, I now have plenty of tricks to help further develop young players technical understanding and individual throwing performance.

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The Frank Underwood Guide to Batting Power

House of Cards is an epic TV show following the dark exploits and political manoeuvring of US congressman Frank Underwood. It's a compelling story of power. You should watch it.

But the lessons from the show are not just for aspiring politicians. There are things batters can learn from the way Underwood understands and manipulates people to his own ends.

Because people are still people. Be they opening bowlers, or Presidential candidates.

Here is the wisdom of Underwood that you can use, or as he may say in that understated southern drawl, abuse:


"That's how you devour a whale. One bite at a time."

Early in the story, Underwood is overlooked for promotion by a new President. He quickly decides to extract political revenge and goes about gradually building a position of power. The quote above sums up his attitude to slowly moving to an unassailable position.

And as a batter, that's exactly how you eat the whale of a daddy hundred; scoring a single into the leg side, hitting the odd boundary and biding your time until the whole creature is devoured.

"Competence is such an exotic bird in these woods that I appreciate it whenever I see it."

Underwood was talking about a political analyst when he said this, but it applies to amateur cricket too. When we see a competent player we assume some kind of natural talent is at work because it is such a rare treat.

Actually, it's the result of a lot of practice. And if you want others to appreciate your competence, there is no shortcut through natural talent. You need to put in the hours in nets and in games until you are a master of the basics.

"I feel like I met the real you for the first time right now."

As part of his grand plan, Underwood took a young congressman - Peter Russo - under his wing and helped him put his failing life back on track. The key moment in this relationship is when Frank tells Peter he can see the real him after all the troubles.

for his part, Peter is galvanised. Frank has reflected his thought that he knows himself again too. That means he can become a success in his career.

The parallel with batting is simple. If you know yourself, and you understand your own game you can play to your strengths and score more runs. This is not just wishy-washy psychobabble. If you think personality has no influence on performance you have never thought that Dhoni and Cook bat differently.

"Insecurity bores me."

Speaking of personality, batting is about confidence more than any other sporting skill you can imagine. If you are not deeply confident that you can thrive in an environment where one mistake against 11 others sees the end of your participation, then you will fail.

So insecurity should utterly bore you too. You should spend every minute of training in an effort to build the most robust confidence you can build until you are soaring above others in the way you feel about your game.

"Of all the things I place in high regard, rules are not one of them."

Rules are essential in both politics and cricket. But that doesn't mean you mindlessly follow them. Therein lies thoughtlessness and lack of creativity.

As cricketers, we need to be constantly questioning and mindful because it's in the grey areas that you can make the most progress.

Does that mean breaking the rules to get what you want?

Of course not, rules exist for a reason. The spirit of cricket makes the game unique and we all play for fun as well as to win.

But playing within, and pushing right up against the boundaries of those rules is how you can get the edge. Just do it mindfully.

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Cricket Show S4 Episode 31: Ducks and Hundreds

Burners, David Hinchliffe and Mark Garaway return to discuss cricket coaching and playing. There are tales of Garas getting a duck and Burners scoring hundreds for fun.

But we also talk tips including when to bring young players into adult cricket, playing on seaming wickets and keeping a good seam position when bowling.

Download the show and listen on your iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad, or just listen right here in the browser to half an hour of cricket goodness in your ears.



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This is show number 224.

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Find Out Here if you can Bowl a Doosra

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

The doosra and carrom ball is very difficult to bowl. Some even say they cannot be bowled legally.

Cricket Training Ideas: Baseball Mitts

It's rare to see a coach these days without a fielding bat and a baseball catching mitt in the kitbag. But the mitt is a tool that can be used by all players.

I can hear people saying, "Hang on, mitts are cheating. Why would a player want one?"

The answer is simple: to improve your throwing.


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: 267
Date: 2013-08-09