Pitchvision Academy
Improve Your Performance: Training Logs miCoach Cricket Show


A very happy new year to all the readers of this newsletter. Here is hoping the tips inside it help you make 2009 your best year yet.

This week we have included a way of sticking to your resolutions in case you have decided a new year means a change to your life, cricket or otherwise.

We also cover 'micro field settings' to help you fool the batsman, how to stop a batting collapse, the truth about energy drinks and even more on the now infamous 10,000 hour rule. Does it really apply to cricket?

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

How are you going to keep your New Year's resolution?
New Year, New You.

That's the idea a lot of people have in early January and why not? It's a good time to start self-improvement after the excesses of Christmas.

Just as most of us take a golden opportunity to do something positive, most of us have given up as quickly as we began. How are you going to stick with it this year?

The 30 day trial

One of the most effective ways of motivating yourself to start a new habit is to cut yourself some mental slack. This is where the 30 day trial comes in.

Instead of trying to make a change for the rest of your life, tell yourself you are going to throw yourself into it for just 30 days. At the end of that time you can, if you want, go back to your old ways.

This works in two ways. Suddenly you are not depressed at the thought of doing things this way forever and second you will probably be in the habit by the end of the 30 days and will not want to stop.

Simple eh?
As long as you do it right.

How to start a 30 day trial right now

Imagine for a moment you are thinking of giving up smoking, starting at the gym, developing a slower ball, learning how to play the reverse sweep, giving up chocolate, upping your vegetable intake, reading more and procrastinating less at work. You make a start without telling anyone and have already blown at least 2 promises to yourself by the middle of the month. 30 days seems like an age to last out.

This is too much too soon. It's certainly not how the 30 day trial was designed to work.

In our fictional example, you would pick just one goal as your 30 day trial. Let's pick joining the gym and going twice a week.

When you have your goal you need to do two things:

  1. Write it down.
  2. Tell everyone you can you are doing it.

Both of these bring in a key element: motivation.

Writing it down and putting it somewhere you can see it often (but not too often) will be self motivating. Perhaps you can set a reminder in your phone on Tuesdays and Thursdays to remind you to go to the gym. Telling others will encourage them to support you when you forget or feel unmotivated that day.

One great way of doing this is to hold yourself accountable online with our training log forum. You could just as easily tell your friends, family and co-workers in 'real life' too.

As this is a 30 day trial, every day of the trial you need to report on how the day went. In our example you could start writing down the workout with the amount of work you did. Seeing this increase will motivate you further to keep the gains coming.

At the end of the 30 days, take a step back, look through your notes (whether online or just kept in a private notebook) and decide whether it's worth continuing.

Sometimes you will decide it is and will carry on without the need for daily reporting and feedback. Other times you will stop, but it will have been a conscious decision.

So what are you waiting for? If you start today you may have a new good habit in 4 weeks time!

Image credit: enggul


Discuss this article with other subscribers

When is a mid off not a mid off? (Or how to manipulate the field without changing it)

It's possible to make changes to your field without actually moving the fielders.

Tradition dictates that changing a field involves moving a fielder from one position to another. Mid off may go to deep mid off in defence or silly mid off in attack for example.

However, there is great scope within each fielding position for the tactically aware bowler, captain or fielder to exploit to their advantage. It means forgetting about thinking of any position as a static point. Instead it's a large area. Mid off, for example, could be up level with the stumps or three quarters of the way to the boundary. They could also be fairly straight or quite wide.

It's important to know this mainly because these subtle changes can be very effective in slowing scoring and taking wickets. Good batsmen also understand this so they can see how the opposition are trying to get them out.

You can split theses type of tactics into three general areas:

1. Close fielding

Slips, gulley, short leg and other close fielders should all be aware of the clues about how far from the bat to stand. The obvious part is the speed of bowling and pace of the wicket. Generally the faster either of those factors, the further back you can stand as the ball carries extra distance.

Slip fielders can get their cue from the wicketkeeper in the normal way: First standing slightly further back than the keeper and second about level. Gulley can be more difficult as the position can cover a very wide area from fifth slip to backward point. You need to decide if you are there for the mistimed cut or the thick edge off the top of the bat. In the former case you will be further back. You also need to take into account the technique of the batter. The more open faced they play the straighter you will need to be (with the slips possibly wider than usual).

Leg side close fielders and off side fielders in front of the wicket need to be an excellent judge of how far the ball will carry to them. This can be difficult at leg slip or leg gulley especially. Again the decision on how close depends on bowler pace, wicket pace and whether you are there for an attacking of defensive shot.

All close fielders will need to be closer for batsmen who play defensively with soft hands than they do for those who go at the ball at lot harder in defence.

2. In fielding

In general the in fielders are positioned to save batsman scoring singles first and boundaries second. Where your fielders stand depends on how fast the ball is coming off the bat. The faster it arrives the further back the fielder can stand.

Batsman can take advantage of this through tip and run tactics, drawing a fielder in until they are too close then hitting it past them before they have time to react. Because of this it's a good idea that all in fielders on the same side of the wicket stay in line with each other as a way of checking positioning. If one fielder chooses to adjust for a certain batsman, the rest must follow suit, ideally through the bowler and captain.

Speaking of batsman, if one batsman has a favourite shot it's possible to move the two closest fielders closer together, cutting off the gap. It's also worth trying to place a fielder deliberately a little too deep sometimes. This can backfire but is useful against the player who likes to try and hit over the top.

Another exception to the general in fielding rule is when you are playing in a match with fielding restrictions and a fielding circle. Here you will often find fielders posted on the very edge of the circle, too far back to save a single but not permitted to go outside it to save the boundary properly.

3. Out fielding

The outfielders are generally deployed to save boundaries and take catches in the deep. Every schoolboy cricketer is aware that they should be on the boundary to save the embarrassment of the ball going over their heads but landing within the boundary.

This is sound advice most of the time, although bringing a fielder in 10 yards from the boundary is a risky but legitimate tactic against the batsman with ego enough to think they can clear them. You can also station fielders some way in on longer boundaries, especially when it's clear the batter will not hit that far.

On the other hand, very short boundaries are more difficult. You may often find it worthwhile to move an in fielder to the boundary to save the four and give one away. On balance it might work out costing less than having a man in an orthodox position.

Just like the in field, the technique of the batsman also needs to be taken into account. Two players may get the same ball and perhaps even play the same shot but the ball rarely ends up in the same place. It may be obvious to say it, but adjust positions to be where the ball is more likely to go, especially if it is in the air at the time.

Who decides?

Finally, it's important to remember who is in charge of all this micro-field changing.

The captain should always have final say as they are looking at the bigger picture and have overall command on the field. Captains usually work with their bowlers; sometimes even letting them set their own field. Fielders should keep a close eye on both.

Experienced fielders can also make these micro decisions based on what they see. Care must be taken before taking a decision independently though. It may be worth confirming with the skipper until you can build up his trust in you.

Wherever you are fielding, remember not to let yourself slip out of position accidentally and only move based on sound tactical knowledge or the instruction of your captain.


Want to be a better captain? Learn from the best with the interactive online course Cricket Captaincy by Mike Brearley.



Discuss this article with other subscribers

How to stop another batting collapse

Last season my team were cruising to an easy victory in a one day game. We had skittled the opposition for 144 and were 120 for 2 in reply.

I was down to bat at 6 but had not bothered to pad up, a situation which rapidly changed when we lost our best batsman to a rash shot followed almost immediately by the new batsman muttering something about unplayable deliveries as we passed each other.

What was interesting was how our team's mindset had changed during the collapse.

Amazingly we lost 3 more wickets chasing the last few runs, finishing 7 down but crawling over the line. Each new batsman seemed increasingly worried about the demon bowling and the pitch seaming around.

Yes, it was green and the ball was keeping low but it seemed to me to be more about us fearing something based on the evidence of wickets falling suddenly. We seemed to be convincing ourselves that the collapse was being caused by external factors like the pitch or bowling. But this is the same pitch we had been batting on easily for the first half of our innings.

Ex-England batsman Ed Smith calls it a 'low score mentality': Batsmen go into their shell and become hell-bent on defence to stop the collapse. If it has happened a lot before (as it does with most club sides) the team may be already in the mindset of "here we go again"!

To me that is the wrong way of thinking. It would be like me asking you not to think of a banana. The fact I mention it brings it to mind. Think of stopping the collapse and all you have in mind is, well, a collapse.

Ask yourself this about your team: How many collapses have you had that were down to brilliant play by the opposition and how many were down to your side making mistakes? I imagine the latter happens a lot more than the former.

So if it's a mental thing to collapse, how do we stop it?

Get the focus right

If there is a secret to stopping collapsing I think it's about focus.

Many captains and coaches may advise the incoming batsman to 'just don't get out'. You might even be thinking exactly that as you walk to the middle and your batting partner comes up.

But there are so many more positive things you could be thinking about:

  • Where are the areas I can score?
  • Who are the weak fielders we can take a run to?
  • Play the ball on its merits

You do need to be highly focused as a batsman. You do need to be calm as a batsman. You can achieve both of these things without even looking at the scoreboard. Instead, use the stop technique to get rid of the negative thoughts, control your breathing and watch the ball onto the bat.

Thinking ahead

What can help this process is talking to each other about how you deal with a collapse before it happens.

That is simpler that it sounds. Just take 5-10 minutes after training to sit down with the rest of your team and talk through a collapse situation. Ask people what they would be thinking about and how they might play.

You can do this kind of planning for any situation but is particularly good for when things are going wrong. We rarely plan how we will act in the field if the score is 214-1 or if we lose our top order in the first 5 overs. Talking it through and imagining how we can get out of the hole is a useful way to stay positive when it happens.

I know this works because guess who stayed calm and hit the winning runs that day? I might not be the most talented batsman to walk the earth, but at least I have learned to keep my head under pressure out there. If I can, you can too.


Discuss this article with other subscribers

Is the 10,000 hour rule so important for cricket?

Practice makes perfect, the coaches say. Researchers thought "how much?" and tried to find out.

The answer their research established was simple: 10,000 hours or 10 years of daily practice. This applies for everything from athletes, entrepreneurs, scientists or any field.

The truth about energy drinks for cricket

International cricket grounds in England are dotted with brushed metal containers on the edge of the boundary advertising the energy drink Red Bull.

The drink claims in its advertising to "give you wings" and England Captain Kevin Pietersen is on record as drinking a can before going out to bat. Its big business for the companies that sell them but do energy drinks really help your cricket?


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.


Take a tour
Want Coaching?

Send to a Friend

Do you have a friend or team mate who would be interested in this newsletter? Just hit "forward" in your email program and send it on.

If you received this email from a friend and would like to get subsequent issues, you can subscribe here.


PitchVision Academy

irresistable force vs. immovable object


Thank you for subscribing to PitchVision Academy.
Read more at www.pitchvision.com


To unsubscribe eMail us with the subject "UNSUBSCRIBE (your email)"
Issue: 27
Date: 2009-01-02