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It's time to drop some names. In one simple newsletter we have the following people who can help you: Graeme Smith, Mark Ramprakash, Mark Garaway, Toby Radford, Gary Palmer and Steffan Jones.

Talk about your dream team of coaching!

Everything from bowling fast, through batting tips to the use and abuse of technology is here. All for the low low price of 0.00. I only wish I had a resource like this when I was developing as a player! I'm grateful it's here now I'm a coach. It makes my life so much easier.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

3 Things Graeme Smith Teaches You About Batting. None of Them are About Hitting Straight Balls Through Midwicket


Graeme Smith has retired. He was such a unique player, are there any lessons we can possibly take from the South African?

It would be foolish to simply try and copy him in technique or character. He was a bristling personality, often favouring the task over man management. He looked like he was about to get out LBW all the time. You can't copy that unless you are of similar temperament, judgement and body type to Smith.

Yet we can't deny it worked for him. Even under huge pressures he piled on the runs; over 16,000 in international cricket at well over forties. That's a lot of flicks to leg. It also means it's not down to luck, or natural talent. Something else is going on there.

So, lets unpick the skills that you can transfer to your game without having to have a barrel chest, an aggressive leadership style and a lantern jaw.


Write your own textbook

Smith proved that you don't need a textbook method to score runs. He was technically ugly, but ugly runs are still runs. He's a one man example that you can write your own textbook.

This is because technique is only one part of the batting puzzle. Shot selection and decision making are also crucial elements. If you are strong in those parts while being weaker in textbook technical methods you can "get away with it".

Of course, you still have to work with your body to get a technique that works for you. That will take some experimenting. For example, when driving, some players lead with the head, others lead with the foot. Do you know what comes more naturally to you?

If not, it's time to do some experiments. It's time to make your own textbook based on your body, not everybody.

One more is never enough

Of course, experimenting a lot also means practising a lot. Much of your practice will appear to be wasted while you try things that don't work for you. But that is short-sighted because every time you learn something that doesn't work, you are one step closer to what does work.

Smith was a shining example. According to his first coach he practised after school for hours and always begged for one more bat when it was time to leave. His passion drove him to work harder than anyone else, and his focus drove him to work smarter; seeking advice, thinking about his game but never over-thinking.

Every ball he faced had meaning. Every session was reviewed, and put aside so he could focus on the next one. It's this relentless virtuous cycle that you can emulate.

If you have the passion and drive.

Ignore rejection: Know they are wrong

Speaking of drive, Smith also has to use it to overcome rejection. This was because of the problem of being an ugly batsman (he didn't even have a cover drive as a teenager).

He was turned down often because he didn't look great in trials. Lesser men might have given up and agreed with the coaches letters saying "thanks but no thanks". He just went away and scored so many runs he couldn't be ignored. You might call it grit, or character. He knew he was going to prove them all wrong.

And all those runs later, he proved he was right.

It's up to you to prove the same to the nay-sayers in your life too. And by following the example of Graeme Smith, there is every chance you can have a glittering career, even if you have no cover drive and a preference for whipping straight ones through the leg side.

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How an International Cricketer Used a Simple Trick to Instantly Boost His Batting Average

I'm working this week with an incredible tutor group on the ECB Level IV Batting module at the National Cricket Performance Centre. Matthew Maynard, Tony Middleton (the Hampshire CCC Batting coach) and myself are heading up the course.

This morning, world leading performance coach, Dr Steve Bull interviewed ex-England player, Mark Ramprakash in one of the most powerful sessions I have experienced to date.

"Ramps" scored 114 First Class 100's and played 52 Test Matches in his glittering career. Recently, he has returned from a successful England Lions series win in Sri Lanka where he was lead batting coach. But one of the most interesting stats of Mark's career was that he was dropped on 10 separate occasions during a 52 test match career.

Ramprakash was touring the West Indies in 1998 and yet again found himself out of the team. He very nearly booked himself out of the Team Hotel to fly home because he had reached an all time low and his confidence was shot.

Ramps bumped into Steve Bull down at the pool and Bully started to work on some coping strategies to help Mark to increase his confidence. Ramprakash now talks about his Test Match career in this way: "My Pre-Steve Bull Test Career and my Post-Steve Bull Test Career"

So how did Steve help Ramprakash come back and take his career to new levels? What did they work on?

Visualisation is a confidence tool

The starting point was to work on some visualisation techniques. It was vital that Mark could see himself coping with all of the external and internal "noise" that was cluttering his mind and eroding his belief.

Ramprakash would visualise himself looking out from the pavilion at the venue for the next match, watching the previous wicket fall, hear the noise of the crowd, the horns, the music, see the crowd and picture himself walking confidently down the steps out on to the grass and towards the wicket.

He would take guard, take in the sights, sounds, smells and feelings and run through the first 30 balls of his innings against the likes of Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh with absolute precision in his movements, his decision making, his leaves, shots and body language.

He would see it as he would normally experience it (through his own eyes which is called "internal visualisation"), and cope easily with the challenges that the bowlers can throw at him.

Ramprakash was selected for the 4th Test in Guyana and repeated this process in his head the night before the game. When the time came to bat he felt he could cope because "I had done it (in my head) before".

He had renewed confidence in his ability and scored 64* (out of 170) and 34 (out of 137) across his two innings.

Ramps ended up topping the series averages with 266 runs at 66.50 in his 3 matches.

In Neuro Linguistic Programming we talk about turning up the volume, the contrast, the colours and the feelings to make them as vivid as possible when we run through visualisation strategies, make it real.

This is exactly what Mark Ramprakash did to take him from the lowest ebb in his cricket career to the top of the England batting averages.

Can this inspirational story help you or one of your players to build confidence when they need it most?

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Cricket Show S5 Episode 8: What Have You Heard?

The language of cricket has developed over the last few years, and borrows far more from areas like business management. Is this a good thing?

Mark Garaway, Sam Lavery and David Hinchliffe discuss the topic.Plus, we look at the role of bat weight in timing and strokeplay, and help a fast bowler and Ian Pont fan with his braced front leg. Can we help him to ramp up the pace and bowl faster? Listen to the show to find out.

And, Gary Palmer jumps on board to tell us how to safely introduce the techniques of playing the short ball.

Download the show in iTunes or listen in your browser!


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!

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This is show number 251.

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"You'll be a Lesser Coach if You Don't Have Technology", Toby Radford Reveals

There's no doubt that technology is transforming the way we prepare as cricketers. Analysis tools have never been easier or cheaper so even club players can get in on the game.

When I interviewed Glamorgan Coach Toby Radford, I asked him about how he uses technology to help him coach, and his answer was emphatic:

Can Hard Work Really Make You Fail?

This is part 4 of and autobiographical training guide Steffan Jones, professional fast bowler. For part one click here.

In 2002 I learned that hard work wasn't the secret to success.

My gym work was spot on. I was training harder and better than ever. I could see no room to improve (remember this was a few years back, and at the time you could not have found a better programme or a more motivated trainer).


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: 297
Date: 2014-03-07