Pitchvision Academy


This newsletter has a review feel because we are looking back over the last 12 months. There are our best articles and podcasts listed below, along with a special guest appearance from last year's most popular article (read by over 52,000 people!).

But it's not all looking back as Mark Garaway and Sam Lavery both look into fixing fast bowling techniques. Get your action in order for 2014.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Fixing Fast Bowlers: More Back Foot Contact Drills


The first in this series used a piece of string as a guide for foot placement in the approach. This is one of the major causes of the back foot sweeping under the body and causing misalignment at the crease.

However, if the feet are landing nicely in the approach and you still note that BFC (Back Foot Contact) is misaligned then the following drills, placed on top of the string based run up drill, will close the deal.


1. Mirroring

It is vital that the bowler has a comprehension of what she looks like when her BFC is misaligned and the knock on effect taken into her delivery stride. In order to do this, you can use a mirroring approach.

This can either be demonstrated by simulating the bowling action towards a mirror or get the to bowl over the top of a camera on a low tripod placed a 2 metres beyond the crease.

I have started what I call the "stuntman" camera position by filming from a prone position on the floor with my iPad (again, 2 metres in front of the bowling crease). This gives a great angle.

If you don’t feel confident that the bowler will be able to bowl the ball over the top of you then use a tennis ball instead of cricket ball.

This image will give the bowler awareness of their present position and she will be working her own solutions to the problem even before direct intervention.

2. Intervention pole work

Intervention poles are brilliant. They train the bowler towards their back foot and front foot target at the crease by blocking the movement that you don’t want to see (in this case, the sweeping of the back foot under the line of the body).

The great thing about intervention poles is that you can start them in an unobtrusive position to build up bowler confidence of the drill intention and then bring them in gradually to up the challenge at an appropriate time.

Once the drill has been practised for a while then you can take the poles away to see how the new technique stands up in an open environment. If it stands up then crack on, if not then it's perfectly OK to revert back to the drill until the bowler feels confident to test the skill under open conditions once more.

Here is an example of some intervention pole based work from Simon Francis (a brilliant ECB Level IV Coach) who works out of Warwick School in England:

Intervention poles can be used for a number of bowling drills (both spin and pace) are relatively inexpensive and highly portable (Indoor and outdoor use).

If you build athlete awareness by showing the Stuntman video angle and support the bowler's learning through use of the intervention poles- which train the intention to stay aligned from take off to follow through - then a misaligned BFC can soon become a distant memory.

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Bowl Faster by Pushing and Pulling

As young cricketer I remember facing up against a number of talented young quicks trying to break into to the professional game. I distinctly recall listening to coaches talk about getting their front arm high; "reach up to the sky" they would say, and then once they had done that, "...now pull the chain!"

At the time I didn't think anything of it, apart from, what's this chain they're talking about? Why does it have to be up so high. And why is pulling it going to make them any better? If anything I remember thinking that the harder they tried to pull down with their front arm the less control they had.

Over the past few months this idea of "reaching up high" and "pulling down", or "pulling the chain", has cropped up again in a number of different scenarios. So let's clear up the feeling that pushing up and then pulling down with the front arm, adds any pace, or a great deal else to a bowlers armoury for that matter.

To begin, what is the benefit of pushing upwards?

  • In simply pushing straight up there is none. Given the range of movement most people hold in their shoulders, chest and back, it will send your head, torso and subsequently your body weight backwards. Not a good start.
  • To follow, part of the role of a bowlers front arm is to help with direction and aiming. Pushing upwards is going to be very little help in shifting line from leg to off.

So what about pulling downwards? Surely this up and down motion can't be all bad, can it?

  • It's likely that "pulling the chain" is one of the most significant contributors to lateral flexion (or side bend) in your action. Lateral flexion is the primary cause of injury in fast bowlers.
  • Just try it out standing still; push your left arm up to the sky, then pull it down fast. What happens? Unless you have an extremely strong and well developed core you will feel yourself beginning to fall to the left. Now imagine doing this whilst moving at high speed, probably without an established base, and still on only one foot when the pulling begins.
  • Simply put, short extra cover should look out, because the bowler's follow through is heading their way following the sideways snap of their body at release.

So if this up and down motion doesn't work, what should you quick bowlers do?

Actually its obvious.

Fast bowling is a skill based around straight lines moving back and forth from the target. That's exactly how our arms should move: Pushing forwards and then pulling back.

So rather than reaching for the sky, and putting your arm in a position where simply what goes up must come down. Try pushing forwards towards the target with you front hand and arm. Not only keeping your body weight moving forwards but also allowing you to direct it towards a specific target point.

Having extended forwards, you're now putting yourself in a great position from which you can pull back.

And the benefit of this?

To start, now that your not pulling down, there's dramatically less lateral force being placed on your body. The benefits of this alone are massive, but injury prevention and better balance at delivery can do for now.

Secondly, and more excitingly for some, is added pace. When you pulled down with your front arm, your left shoulder would drop, elevating your right shoulder; something that's of very little benefit. In pulling back with the left arm, the right shoulder gets driven forwards, adding an additional element of forward movement towards the target.

So if you want to find a simple way to improve stability, control and pace, just have a look at your front arm and ask yourself, is it pushing and pulling for you or against you?

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Best of 2013: Becoming a Cricketer, Bowling and Batting

With 2013 drawing to a close, it's time to give you the best content on PitchVision Academy from the last 12 months. It's been another stellar year.

Of course, the year wouldn't be complete without thousands hitting the site to learn how to become a cricketer, so we published our complete guide in May, then added even more advice with a rant about all the things that people do wrong.

And for the guys who wanted to be a pace bowler we published a guide to becoming a sensation with the ball. That's because the year was all about speed.

How to bowl fast

The hunger for speed we bigger than ever, and we brought in some of the finest minds on pace bowling to help you add a yard or two using cutting edge methods.

Steffan Jones was busy, producing articles and videos on the link between the gym and the pitch:

Plus we sneaked in some advice from Zaheer Khan about building up stamina.

And what would a year be without the awesome power of Ian Pont's tips. Here he talks about the 4 Tent Pegs and his coaching camp.

Plus we examine some top level fast bowling tactics with no less than Aussie one-day hero Nathan Bracken, including the secrets of outsmarting a batsman with the art of swing bowling. You can sign up for more on Nathan's page.

Finally we looked at speed psychology: We taught you how to start using a snarly face to develop a fast bowler's attitude to go with that pace. Plus we showed you how to improve your accuracy with a simple mental trick.

World-class basics

We also gave you plenty of drills and ideas to boost your run scoring. We started with the idea that batting didn't require mythical skills, just an ability to be world-class as the basics.

Then we used examples for batting like Dhoni and Michael Bevan (who also filmed an exclusive video series with us that is still available to budding finishers).

Gary Palmer was as reliable with his batting advice as always, but certainly never sticking to the book. He told us about the great batting hoax and the new science of playing straight this year.

And speaking of myths, we also busted the idea that batting style is an excuse for poor judgement. Plus we looked at some new shots that have arrived in the last few years and advised whether you should learn them.

Best of the rest

Of course, it's not just about improving your speed and your batting. We looked at just about every other cricket-related topic, including:

And to top it all, the leg spinners at PitchVision Academy got to sample a 3 month free membership of Harry Shapiro's Leg Spin Association.

Tomorrow, the best of the podcast and coaching tips, so come back to get the skinny!

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Best of 2013: Coaching and Training

Thanks to you, 2013 has been an incredible cricket year on PitchVision Academy. Yesterday we looked at batting and bowling, today we review the coaching and practice advice, lead by Mark Garaway.

As the man in charge of coach education on PitchVision Academy. Garas weekly column became essential reading for anyone who coaches. He took the most cutting-edge ideas and helped you to develop your skills with drills, ideas and hard science.

How to Become a Cricketer: What Are Your Chances?

How to Become A CricketerYou're desperate to become a cricketer.

You watch your heroes on TV and dream of playing alongside them. You play your heart out in matches and seek that chance to show your ability. You practice as much as you can, even training alone when there is no one else to train with you.


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: 288
Date: 2014-01-03