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It's health week in the newsletter.

A new year is the perfect time to start making changes. This year we are focusing on helping players like you improve their general health. After all, the better you look and feel, the better you will perform.

I'm also delighted to announce John Hurley as our brand new regular contributor. John is a coach with a vast 20 year experience in the game. He once played over 60 innings in a single English summer (also taking over 120 wickets)!

We are delighted to welcome John and you can read his terrific first article,  exclusive to miCricketCoach: “the Map” right here.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Why does being healthy make you a better cricket player?

This is the first part of the "Healthy living for club cricketers" series. To go to part two click here.

What has healthy living got to do with cricket? Let me tell you a story to illustrate.

There was a time not so long ago when I wasn't the picture of health. My diet was poor, I was overweight, I rarely trained and my cricket was suffering.

Even worse, I didn't feel well. I might not have been sick, but I was never on top of things. I would be sluggish in the afternoons, coughs and colds would linger for weeks and my skin was bad. It was the kind of low level stuff you don't really notice grinding you down every day and making life tough.

It was a far cry from the fit and healthy 21 year old me who left University with a shiny new degree in sport and fitness. It was a case of 'do as I say, not as I do' for the people I was training during that time. I was being hypocritical.

Then the 2005 Ashes happened.

As a dyed-in-the-wool Englishman I rejoiced. Life was good again. It made me want to play cricket to my best. Looking at the supremely fit and healthy England side I realised that I needed to start again from scratch: Become a healthy cricketer.

I went back to my degree notes, poured over the latest research and read the books of trainers and nutritionists on the cutting edge. The more I worked the more I realised being a good cricketer is not just about what happens when you cross the boundary line.

It's about your whole life.
The 24 hour cricketer

It made perfect sense. Why would you perform well if you mistreated your body most of the time?

Being at your best requires you to be free from injury, strong, fast and alert. A healthy lifestyle gives you all those things, but only if you work at being healthy 24 hours a day.

There are other benefits as well as increases in sports performance.

  • Improved self confidence. If you look and feel better you will be more confident in yourself. Whether bigger biceps or a smaller waist, a healthy lifestyle is the way to go.
  • Better health and function. Being healthy reduces your risk of preventable diseases in the long term and makes you more resistant to the 'low level' daily ailments that I was suffering from back in 2005. It's something Greg Chappell experienced and wrote about in his book too.
The hard journey to health

I had no reason not to try back them, so I took the plunge and changed my life. I wasn't easy. I worked full time, didn't earn much and had a young family.

I stuck with it though; I trusted the benefits would outweigh the costs.

Now I have never been healthier and I have never been a better cricketer even though I am in my mid 30's. It's still hard to stick with it sometimes but it's a habit now. The players I have worked with over the years have had similar positive experiences.

This stuff works and I have proven it.

As I write this it's the start of a new year. Now would be the perfect time for you to become a healthy cricketer too. (In fact, any time is the perfect time. Why wait?)

How do you do it? Start by making the commitment.

If you decide to do that then I'll show you how you can become healthier this coming week.

To go to part two click here.

Image credit: chris_jd

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What are the 7 myths of good health?

This is the second part of the "Healthy living for club cricketers" series. To go to part one click here.

If I took a quick poll asking: "would you like to be healthier" I'm betting 100% of the honest answers would be in the affirmative.

As we have discovered, there is no downside: you look better, you feel better and you play better cricket.

The trouble is, with so much conflicting information around, how do you really know what healthy is? You probably have a vague idea: More fruit and vegetables? More exercise? More sleep? Less drinking?

But it quickly gets complicated.

Some experts claim drinking moderately is healthy; some say fat is bad while others say it's good. We are encouraged to get 15-20 minutes of moderate intensity cardio three times a week by some while others say the benefits are greater in high intensity interval training. The list of controversies is as long as your arm.

Where do you start to cut through all the conflicting information?

A good place is with the myths of health that are always untrue no matter what you position. In other words, the things you can ignore and still be healthy.

  1. Being healthy means having no fun. Contrary to the image, you don't have to be a martyr to be healthy. You can still have a life. Enjoying yourself is part of being human and it would be bad for your overall health if you were a perfect example of healthy living but unhappy. You would not stick with the plan for long like that.
  2. Being healthy takes too much time. We all have busy lives and many priorities. Healthy living needs to fit into that, but it can with some forward thinking. There are some simple strategies you can use to fit health into your life without much pain. However, you will also have to learn new habits which can be hard but not impossible.  
  3. Being healthy is just a matter of taking the right pill. If you believe the health supplement advertising you can do anything with the right pill or powder. Sadly, it's not true. Some supplements can help but healthy living starts with you doing the work, not a magic potion.  
  4. Being healthy is going on a diet. The problem with diets and exercise programs is that they end. The secret is to form a habit instead. Healthy living doesn't end when you can fit back into your old jeans or got your cholesterol under control. It's a lifetime habit.
  5. Being healthy is complicated. You don't need to be a nutritionist or fitness professional to know the rules of being healthy. However you do need to come up with a set of rules that both work and allow you to stick to them. These are simple as you will find out.
  6. Being healthy is all spiritual, man. Another false image of health is the guru on top of the hill doing yoga, chanting, finding inner peace and eating alfalfa sprouts. Maybe that works for some, but I prefer the tried and test route of science.
  7. Being healthy is something you do alone. This is not only a myth; it can scupper your chances of success. The single biggest factor to making a lifelong change in habit is accountability. If you do something alone you are more likely to fail.

Avoiding these myths gives you a framework to work from no matter what path to health you take.

In the next part I'll talk more about the realities of this framework, especially how to use accountability to help you. 

To go to part three click here.

Image credit: Irishcricketphotos


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Using 'The Map' as your checklist for consistent cricket success

Listening to ex-International bowler Damien Fleming recently, I was interested to hear him refer to some players as 'Having a good map' with respect to how they prepared for each game. I have always said “You have to have a plan!” and it seemed to me that Fleming was making the same sort of statement.

What is 'The Map'?

Everyone has a set of processes they follow prior to playing a game.

  • Many players go through these processes in a very erratic manner. These players often find it difficult to produce consistently solid performances on game days.
  • The good players identify the processes they go through and attempt to follow them in a deliberate way each time they prepare for a game.
  • The very good players identify what works for them within these processes and apply themselves to working through these processes throughout the week leading up to and including game day.

These players are following their own 'map' in an effort to reach their destination: Success in the middle!

I would suggest all cricketers draw up their own map to cricketing success. The higher the level of cricket you play or aspire to play, the more detailed your map should be.

Over the course of the next few weeks I will deal specifically with various specific elements that make up a Players Map. I hope you will work through this process with me and develop your own map as you go. Please remember these maps once developed will be living documents that you constantly modify as your game develops.

The Basics

Regardless of age or standard, every cricketer can employ a map of some sort, each containing the same basic elements. These are:

  • Practice Routines
  • Non Practice Training Routines
  • Organization of Diet
  • Game Eve Routines
  • Game Day Routines
  • Recovery Routines
  • Game Evaluation and Planning Routine

The very young cricketer will have the majority of these elements determined for them by parents and/or coaches. For those parents and coaches reading this: I would urge you to make your young players aware of the fact that a map exists and encourage them to identify a routine. This is so you can start them along the way to developing their own map. It must make things easier for everyone in the long run!

Practice Routines

All players, regardless of age, should learn a comprehensive warm-up routine. This should include dynamic as well as static stretches. As with all these elements, by turning these activities into a routine they can be learned and remembered more easily. They can also be completed rapidly, making your efforts more efficient and less time-consuming.

After the warm up, some mental rehearsal should take place before any cricket-specific physical activities. For younger players, this might take the form of a reminder from the coach about what specific batting, bowling and fielding skills they should be working at during the session. For older players, each individual should remind themselves what technical aspects of their game they want to focus on that day.

Following this mental rehearsal, players should move into physical skill work. For young players this should wherever possible involve some individual batting, bowling and fielding skills as well as some group activities that put the skills under scrutiny in a game situation.

As players mature and individual skill sets develop, each player will need to undertake diverse activities aimed at addressing weaknesses as well as further developing strengths. Net batting and bowling are only two of a number of activities that might be undertaken at a practice session.

Remember when you are part of a team, you must factor in other players practice needs. As your awareness of the needs of your team mates increases (this should happen with age), you can plan activities that satisfy the needs of a number of players. So you will need to develop a 'pre-training' routine to make sure you get to work at your game as well as helping your team mates and developing team spirit.

One activity common to most team practice sessions is net training. Young players should be reminded what they are trying to do when batting in the nets on a particular day. Should they focus on defence when batting or maybe hitting the loose ball? Should they be trying to bowl some variations or work at their stock ball?

Older players should develop a routine to employ when called upon to pad up for a batting net that will get them to the net with clear objectives and an uncluttered mind. This will vary from player to player.

Similarly, each bowler must develop an individualized routine that focuses their efforts on specific objectives when bowling in the nets.

More experienced players should develop 'mini-routines' that they work through between deliveries. These sets of thoughts and actions will be similar but not identical to the mini-routines players employ between deliveries on game day. (Game day routines must obviously have a strategic element while net practice routines may have a more technical focus.)

Once all the physical activities have been completed, a warm down routine should be performed. Again, this should be easily learned so that the player can perform their stretches while reflecting on how many of their training objectives they achieved during the current session and what objectives they will try and achieve next session. For younger players, the coach can provide this input by summarizing 'What we did today?' and 'What we are going to try and do next practice session?'. This provides some continuity from one practice session to the next.

So if like Damien Fleming and me, you think “You gotta have a plan!”, get a note book and start plotting your own course towards consistent cricketing success.

After all, how can you possible reach the desired destination without a map?


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How to motivate yourself to be healthier

This is the third part of the "Healthy living for club cricketers" series. To go to part one click here.

19 Ways to be a healthy cricketer

This is the final part of the "Healthy living for club cricketers" series. To go to part one click here.


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: 28
Date: 2009-01-09