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With the World Twenty20 high on everyone's minds, this week Mark Garaway picks out some tips from the tournament about wet conditions. If you have ever had to play in poor weather, you will be able to take advantage. Meanwhile Sam Lavery looks at the changing role and importance of spinners in this short format.

Plus we have some evergreen words from The Fitness Doc on the importance of grip strength, and Richard Wrighton gives us a quick primer on Neuro-Lingusitic Programming for cricket. Is it all nonsense or common sense? Read the article to find out.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

The No-Mumbo-Jumbo Common Sense Guide to NLP for Cricket


Who has the time or need for Neuro-Lingusitic Programming? It's much better to just go and hit cricket balls.

 If you think the above is true, then read this article because today we are going to cut through the psycho-babble and give you the truth.

NLP is able to boost your cricket without having to light a joss stick or meditate in the downward facing dog position.

Recently I caught up with a top NLP practitioner, Richard Wrighton, who has worked with cricketers at every level. Although his knowledge of playing bouncers and bowling yorkers was poor, he has helped players - and their coaches - to improve their skills.

What's the secret?

I'll tell you upfront: The secret to NLP is that it is not a wishy-washy new age concept. It's simple advanced common sense.

Chances are that you will be doing a lot of NLP without even knowing it. Not because you are a natural, but because you are mindful of your cricket and you know that the mental game contributes directly to your skills on the pitch.

Here are the ways NLP will help you.

Reduced anxiety through a feeling of control

Who hasn't worried about getting out first ball while waiting to bat?

Who hasn't been a bit lead-footed in their first few balls as a result of fear of getting out?

It's natural, but it doesn't have to be crippling. With NLP you learn to recognise when you are having unhelpful thoughts and feelings. You can recognise when these thoughts and feelings are turning into negative actions (like bad footwork).

Once you are aware, you can remove them from your thinking and replace them with more useful thoughts.

Imagine you are standing at the top of your mark, ready to bowl. Suddenly a thought pops into your head:

"I hope I don't bowl a bad ball"

NLP teaches use that language is all powerful. Negative thoughts lead to unwanted actions. In other words, if you think about a bad ball, you are more likely to bowl one.

So guess what happens if you flip it around and think:

"Last week I bowled brilliantly from the first ball. This week is going to be exactly the same."

You are drawing from a positive past experience to bowl well in the future. The key here is to use something positive and honest. You can't fool yourself. Draw on real life positives and your confidence will be robust.

So, check yourself and decide what you are thinking and feeling at any moment. Avoid negative trigger words like

  • Try. This is code for "probably fail".
  • But. This undermines the positives.
  • Why. This often is accusing in tone: "why did you slog?".
  • Don't. Always switch it to a positive.

As you learn to "reframe" and recognise the negatives and replace them with robust positives, your feeling of control shoots up and your anxiety falls.

Taking responsibility directly improves skills

Richard went on to tell me that NLP also reveals that you are responsible for your own behaviour. Think about the practical applications of that idea.

In training, we know through both common sense and peer-reviewed studies that more practice improves skills. Yet it is the most psychologically "tough" and passionate players who train the most.

In other words, you train more if you love it more. Even when the practice tough and boring and it seems like you are going nowhere. That is NLP in the wild, because NLP teaches you to develop the grit you need to put in 10,000 gruelling hours.

For example, two players in a team are both of similar standard. Both players go to training every week. One week it rains and training is cancelled. The first player takes a break because it's late in the season and he has been playing a lot of cricket. He feels in form anyway. The second player feels in form too. He knows that when you are in form you should train harder. So he phones around some of the team and arranges to get to the ground early on Saturday for a training session.

The only difference is the frame of mind: The first guy used an excuse, the second guy took responsibility.

This frame also applies to reviewing your performances. If you are the type to take responsibility then you look at every game as a chance to improve. All failure is a piece of feedback. All success is a chance to build confidence.

It's advanced common sense - and therefore good NLP practice - to review.

And that's really the cornerstone: Words are power.

The words we use to talk to ourselves - and others who we coach or captain - dictates our feelings, thoughts and actions. If you understand that fact, you understand NLP and you can use it to take action.

Whether you choose to "get into" NLP or just cherry pick the best bits (like I have here) there is a way to use it to help you in your quest for runs and wickets.

And there is no more powerful currency in cricket than that.

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World Twenty20 Lessons: How to Bowl and Field in Wet Conditions

Do you recognise this?

Bowlers have bowling with soaking wet balls, drying the ball on a towel kept in the back your trousers and fielders throwing the ball sideways as the ball slips out of their hands. Anyone who has played club cricket will know all about these kinds of challenge.

You are not alone: exactly the same issues plagued international teams in the World Twenty20.

So how can we all thrive in wet conditions?

Bob balls in water

Ex-Ireland and present South Africa Assistant Coach, Adi Birrell used to put cricket balls in buckets of water to get them soaking wet before asking the bowlers to bowl the ball in practice.

He did this because many games of cricket in Ireland are rain effected. At the time Ireland's international grounds did not have "super-soppers" or big ropes to disperse rainwater from the outfield. Therefore, he challenged his players to become world leaders with a wet ball.

Bowlers such as Trent Johnston increased their skills hugely in these practices. Ireland would then relish the opportunity to bowl similar match conditions. They knew that their bowling unit were better prepared than the opposition.

Get some old balls, a bucket and some water and try this in your net practices.

Turn back of a length into your yorker

It's difficult to land the yorker in normal conditions when under pressure. To do this with a wet ball pushes the odds significantly in the batter's favour. That's why we we saw the seam bowlers in the World T20 shifting their lengths at the death from attempted yorkers (with a wet ball) to back of a length.

You can do exactly the same: Try to hit the pitch harder and bring your lengths back.

This not only gives you a larger margin for error but also brings different reactions from the playing surface. A wet ball on a skiddy wicket is less predictable. It has been noticeable that batters have been hurried when seamers have shifted their lengths accordingly.

Bowl and throw cross seam

The number of cross seam deliveries has increased as bowlers have tried to find a way of gaining more control in the wet conditions. The more seam that comes into contact with the fingers the more stable the release position with the wet ball.

Your bowler's control increases and they are able to bowl to their fields so much better. This has been one of the reasons why the batting totals have dipped during the World Twenty20.

Fielders can learn from this also. Encourage the fielder to take a split second and ensure that the ball is placed in the hand correctly before hurling it at the target. Again, the accuracy and power will increase as a better grip is established.

The ball will move faster than the man who you are trying to run out so, take your time and then 'unleash hell' with your throw.

What have you noticed about the World Twenty20 that you can take to your games?

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Cricket Show S5 Episode 12: Spinners and Shot Putts

David Hinchliffe and Mark Garaway chat cricket playing coaching on the show. The team start but taking a fresh look at the tactics of spin in a world of Twenty20 spin success and apply the methods to club and school games.

Then, in the mailbag, there are questions answered on the right batting stance for a 13 year old batsman and using a shot putt to increase bowling speed. Can it be done?

Meanwhile Burners reports from the ICC in Dubai with a chat with batting coach Adnan Sabri.

Listen in to find out more!


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This is show number 255.

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Get a Grip: Forearm Training Leads to More Runs

Stronger forearms give more power in your shots and the ability to go on and on.

But a few wrist curls at the end of the workout like a bodybuilder doesn't cut it. For batsmen who want to score runs, isometric grip training – rather than growing your forearms - holds more importance. This is because flexing and extending your wrist with added resistance will do precious little for increasing cricket-specific grip strength.

So, why do you need a stronger grip to bat?

It starts a virtuous circle.

What's the Perfect Number of Spinners for Twenty20?

Can you use more spinners in your Twenty20 games?

The statistics are on your side. Recently Nasser Hussain observed, that 9 of the top 10 bowlers in international T20 are spinners. He then asked that if spinners are the best bowlers in this format of the game, then why don't we always pick at least two of them as a matter of course, or maybe even three?

Before I decide that for my teams, there are a couple of questions I want to ask.


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: 301
Date: 2014-04-04