Pitchvision Academy


It's a fired-up newsletter edition! Not only is there much debate in the Cricket Show with Mark Garaway and Sam Lavery going audio toe to audio toe, but also we look at how Steffan Jones learned the secret of bowling fast way back in the year 2000.

Plus we add fun to functional batting drills, and improve your batting by 2/3rds with new batting drills from Mark Garaway. If you have trouble picking line and length, this is the newsletter for you.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Discover the Missing Two Thirds of Batting Coaching


We coaches are generally very good at developing one part of batting:'shot execution'. That is the mechanics of each shot. But this is the last phase in a series of three.

Before you can play a shot you need to pick up the visual cues and decide on the shot. These are the missing phases for many of us.

So how do we go about developing the first two phases?


Here are a few options that you may already be using or may feature in your future practice around the 1st Phase:

Picking up visual cues

This is such a crucial phase as it provides the batter with key information that leads to decision making and ultimately, the execution of the shot.

A friend of mine states that,

"the best players in any sport are those who have high levels of anticipation. They make excellent decisions and appear to have more time than others to execute their skill".

He is spot on in my view. He goes on to say that the reason is they pick up visual cues (in their own way). This leads them to anticipate the to information quicker: The location of the incoming serve, the run of the striker, or in our case, the slight change in bowling action or shift of seam angle at point of release.

In batting, people will have different visual preferences for picking up early visual cues.

One of our Pitchvision Academy coaches would pick Dilhara Fernando's split finger slower ball by the way his fingers sat on the seam from 40 yards. This is a pinpoint, fine detail preference for vision.

Whilst his teammate found that approach impossible and relied more on his preference for noticing Fernando's more vertical bowling arm in his bound. This was broader focus - picking up limb differences - to anticipate ball type.

Each approach worked for that particular individual. They were anticipating in their own ways.

Where does that leave you as a coach?

Simple, get batters to try both: The pinpoint focus on seam or fingers and broader focus on the bowler's action. Have them establish which one is their preference.

Visual cue drills

Either way, if you want to develop the first two phases better, you need to adapt your training. Here are some ideas.

Replicating the bowling action

The most effective way is to bowl, it's as simple as that. But what if you have no top pace bowlers around?

Bowl off 18 yards!

Even this short, washed up wicket keeper has a cheeky bumper off 18.

Bowling with a side-arm

Get good at this. Learning to throw is with a side-arm is one thing, yet bowling is even better for the batter in terms of visual cue skills.

The "pin-point" guys will pick up seam detail, The bowling action replication will be great for the "broader focus" players who will pick up cues from the bowler.

It's not 100% perfect training but, it's another step up from throw-downs.

Occluded vision testing

In this age of iPads and cameras we can develop our own visual cue applications with inexpensive apps and existing coaching footage.

  1. Video a bowler from the front so that their whole bowling action is filling the screen at point of release.
  2. Ask the bowler to deliver 10 balls, which include at least 2 of each bowling variation that she uses.
  3. Make note of which ball correlates to which delivery type
  4. Edit a reel that pauses the bowler at point of release for a second, then goes to a black screen for 15 seconds and then show the ball being delivered.
  5. Ask the player to write down the anticipated ball type gained from the cues on offer.
  6. Make note of the score for that person; tell the person their score out of 10 at the end of the test.
  7. Retest at a future point and compare scores.
  8. Players will quickly improve as build on their visual preference.
  9. When this occurs, get the batter to watch each ball in real time until ball release (no pause) and pick each delivery type.
  10. Encourage the batter to do this whilst mimicking the movement pattern (i.e. batting) that she would use against each ball (forward/back/what shot).

Paul Collingwood used to do this with the front on footage that we collected of opposition bowlers and ultimately, this is the process those expensive systems such as Pro-batter use.

Over a 12-month period, you could create 4 or more bowling feels (spin, pace, left arm, right arm) which would give you a lifetimes worth of vital drills.

Let me know how you get on.

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Make This One Change to Your Drills to Stop Them Feeling Like Hard Work

Technical work is called "work" for a reason: It's hard and boring. But it doesn't have to be.

That's according to ECB coach Iain Brunnschweiler, a man who knows a thing or two about creating engaging coaching sessions that improve players. He's made coaching courses about it!

So how do you make your drills fun without compromising?


As with so much in life, it's all about balance. We know from research that the best way to get better is with deliberate practice. Often this is repeating the same drill again and again, trying to power through the aching dullness.

But we also know that we play our best when we are in that state often called The Zone, or flow: enjoying the challenge and being in the moment. If you can practice in ways that are challenging enough without getting boring you can tap into that experience.

Of course, there is still a a place for the "deliberate practice" drill, especially when you are learning or honing techniques. But simply injecting some fun too will make everything better.

An example is Brunchy's week 4 coaching plan in his series.

The theme is technical improvement, and if you follow the session plan you will see there is room for technical work on throwing and on straight bat shots.

All good stuff.

But there is also an element of fun. There is competition and games. The games are adaptable to the skill level of the players to keep it a challenge.

There's no doubt you would walk away from this session feeling technically better, but you would also have had some fun. And if you have fun, you are more likely to train longer. Which will in turn make you better.

Brunchy even uses these drills with professional players - not because they are leaning on natural talent and need no technical work - because they train every day and need to mix in fun and competition to stay motivated and stop all those boring hours hitting balls in nets has a light at the end of the tunnel.

So, by all means do your drills. They are important. But also make sure to to inject some fun.

It's one change that will make cricket feel less like work and more like success.

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Cricket Show S5 Episode 3: TARDIS Cricket

How do you go about setting a target batting first? That's the topic under discussion as we examine the failures of the ODI series between India and New Zealand. Don't make the same mistakes in your club side, listen to the show for advice from David Hinchliffe, Mark Garaway and Sam Lavery.

Plus, in the mailbag, there are questions about game plans for playing spin and the differences between formats and how that influences your style and tempo of play. But as usual the conversation wanders into much wider areas, including a single question - related to Doctor Who - that will turn negative experiences into positive changes.

And Garas gives us another great term: pressure mountains. Listen to the show to find out more.


How to Send in Your Questions

If you want to win a cricket coaching prize, you need to send in your burning questions to the show. If your question is the best one we give you a free online cricket coaching course!

Send in your questions via:

Or you can call and leave your question on the Academy voice mail:

+44 (0)203 239 7543

+61 (02) 8005 7925


How to Listen to the Show

Just click the "play" button at the top of the article.

Or, the show comes out every Friday and you can listen to it on your computer, mp3 player, smart phone, iPad or other tablet every week automatically.

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You can also download this show onto your computer by clicking the play button at the top of the article, or clicking on the mp3 to download.


This is show number 246.

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The Story of Bowling Fast Continues Here

In part one of this autobiographical training guide Steffan Jones, professional fast bowler, told us how he discovered the power of strength training to bowl faster. But he was about to take things to another level. Here is what happened in 1999...

The winter of 1999 in preparation for 2000 English season was my first attempt at training specifically for cricket. This is the winter where I began to take things seriously. I began to research more on performance training and spent hundreds of pounds on training books.

At the time I was bowling 78mph. I was hoping to add a yard onto my bowling.

During the winter I followed a basic weight training program. It was nothing intense, simple basic training focusing on body parts. The gym facility we had at the time was machine based so athletic training wasn’t really possible.

Yet, I still managed to increase my pace.


EXCLUSIVE: Inside MCC Lord's Club India Coaching Camp Drills

What do you get if you combine exceptional facilities and coaching from the Marylebone Cricket Club with young, underprivileged boys in India?

You get the MCC Lord's Club in India. You get a genuine chance to become a cricketer.

And PitchVision was there. We wanted to give you a peek behind the velvet rope to find out what happens when an exclusive camp is opened up to those who could never experience it. Read on to find out more.


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: 292
Date: 2014-01-31