Pitchvision Academy


It's a week of fielding an batting collapses. With fielding becoming ever more important at every level, we delve into some drills and methods to improve your catching at slip and in the deep. But there is also the sad case of Wirrall Cricket Club getting bowled out for 3. So we examine the fall out, including some tips for staying motivated.

Finally, we have an update for fast bowlers on bowling fast, one of the evergreen topics here.

Have a great weekend and knock over some poles!

David Hinchliffe

High Catching Drill: The Starting Station


I have been chuffed with the development of one committed player that I coach. This poor fellow couldn't catch a cold three weeks ago. He was getting frustrated and embarrassed in fielding practice and was dreading a high catch being hit his way.

Today, he is transformed.

After a little bit of technical coaching, the use of one simple fielding drill and the player's hard work, I was able to use him as an example for other players to follow.

He is how he did it.

We started off working with hard tennis balls and incrediballs in order to challenge his initial method without the worry of breaking fingers or hideous bruising.

Once we had identified his issue - he needed to get closer to the ball and arch his body to allow his hands to make contact with the ball close to his chest - we were in a position to stress test his method with the following brilliant, yet simplistic drill.

I asked him to stand on different cones (starting stations) and hit the ball into the same area of the ground with my Skyer bat.

Using these stations, the fielder was able to attack the high catch from different angles:

  1. Over the shoulder
  2. Running to the fielders left
  3. Running to the fielders right
  4. Running towards the striker

The player has to catch 3 balls from each starting station before moving on to the next one.

The benefit of this for a coach who is new to hitting with the Skyer is that he can hit the same type of ball over and over again (building his delivery skill through repetition) and yet recreate all of the high catching angles that a fielder will be exposed to in game play.

This is a great foundation building drill for coach developing his delivery and hitting skills or a player stress testing his technique.

Drill progressions

  1. Place the cones further apart so that the distance to get under the high catch increases. As we all know, the challenge for any fielder is to retain their vision on the ball and calibrate distance and timing when moving across the outfield at speed. This extended drill with test the player hugely.
  2. Make it competitive. Count the number of attempts that it takes for the fielder to complete 3 successful catches from each starting station.
  3. Create a league table based on the drill.
  4. Also make a note of the starting scores for each player and the progression that each individual makes. This way you can create a 'most improved high catcher' based on something measurable rather than a subjective call which may be right or wrong.

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Six Proven Ways to Bowl Faster


We all feel the need.

 Whatever your pace now, more is better. Speed creates new problems for the batsman. It's your job to create problems for that guy.

The problem is that everyone has different needs, and not all fast bowling tips work for all fast bowlers. You have to experiment with some things to see what works for you. The good news is that the feedback is instant: You either got quicker, or you didn't.

So try these ways proven ways to bowl faster and let me know how you got on:


Copy javelin thrower's legs

Fast bowling technical expert Ian Pont can be credited for this one. Ponty, after studying javelin thrower technique, realised that a straight, or braced, front leg is a powerful method of generating power. The lower body of a fast bowler and a javelin thrower are identical.

The braced leg acts as a block that throws energy up your body and into the ball.

When you bend your front leg, some of that force is lost and your pace will dip. So it's an easy win to tech yourself to keep the front leg braced like a javelin thrower. Get the drills to learn this method from here.

Grab the sight screens

This technical tip also comes from Ian Pont. It's another simple way to make a technical change that improves bowling speed. In this case, you imagine grabbing the sight screens both in front and behind you.

Doing this as you move from the front foot to the back foot will stretch your upper body to it's full extent. Our muscles are like an elastic band. When stretched they will ping back to their resting length with force. And force means speed into the ball.

Build the right body

PitchVision Academy has long screamed against the idea that gym work means bodybuilding. But, as a bowler you can build a body that is designed for speed rather than the beach.

If you are too skinny you need more muscle.

If you are too overweight you need less fat.

If you are in between you can do a bit of both.

Whatever your body type, you can do with being stronger. This is because bowling speed is improved by putting power from your body into the ball. Power is strength times speed. So, the stronger you get with weights, the faster you get as a bowler.

Raw strength is best developed in the gym with tradition methods like lifting up heavy weights. Bodyweight training has a place but at some point you are going to need to squat, deadlift, press and pull weights. So, find a gym with good trainers who can show you the right way to lift heavy, then get to it.

Join the gym to pitch dots

Simply getting strong will make a huge lift to your speed, but to add even more kph's you can learn to transfer raw strength to bowling speed with specialised tools like kettlebells, weighted balls and medicine balls.

These tools are heavier than a cricket ball, yet lighter than the free weights you find in the gym. That means they act as a bridge between the extremes of a 100kg front squat and bowling at 140kph.

Naturally, you can't just throw things around and hope for the best. You need to plan your training to peak at the start of the summer and maintain that standard throughout the season. Lucky enough, Steffan Jones has plenty of advice for you.

Stretch where your body stretches

As you know from the technical tips above, when you bowl you stretch as much as you can because the greater the stretch the greater the reflex. You can improve this stretch by improving the parts of your body that stretch.

For speed this is your thoracic (or middle) spine and your hips.

In fact, it's the case that the main difference between a "slingy" fast bowler and someone more orthodox is mobility in the t-spine.

It's impossible to be too mobile in these areas whatever your action, so you can work on mobility every day if you are especially weak in these areas. It only takes a few minutes a day to do mobilisations. You can do them as part of your usual warm up for games, gym or training. And you can do them at home as no equipment is required.

If you take the time you will find that over the period of a few weeks you can stretch further than before, grab those sight screens and get into better positions. That means more speed.

Bowl enough, not too much

One of the problems of being a fast bowler is that cricket is a long game. Sprinters don't have to reign in their speed because they run 15 100m in a day for 4 months, but that's exactly what you find yourself doing. So, the key is to find a balance.

Lucky enough, the ECB have researched how much bowling is optimal and have come up with the 7/4/2 system. I would recommend sticking to this as it avoids the dangers of over bowling (and slowing down) while giving you "overs in the legs".

Yes, it is compromise, but unless you can work out how to keep your pace up during long spells, it's the best we have at the moment.

And that's your pace primer.

I know it's a lot to take in, and will take time and planning to put into place. Only the truly dedicated to bowling fast will take advantage of the advice. They are the ones who you will see on your TV taking wickets.

I hope you are one of them too.

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Cricket Show S5 Episode 16: A Great Collapse and a Great Recovery

What else is there to discuss on the world's best cricket coaching show than Wirral CC? The side were bowled out for 3 in an English league match, so David Hinchliffe - joined by Sam Lavery - talk about dealing with a horror game and coming back from the "dead".

As Lavers says, there is still hope, as this card shows:







Don't fear if you are a Mark Garaway fan. Although he was unable to record at the usual time, we lined up his answers to reader's questions for the show. Listen in to find out what he thinks about a batting average of 31, playing unorthodox shots and hitting the full toss to the boundary.

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:

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+44 (0)203 239 7543
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This is show number 259.

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Is This the Truth About Slip Catching?

This is a guest article from James Hughes. James is a student and cricket coach conducting research into how to improve slip catching.

Catches win matches.

Fielding provides more opportunity to influence the game than any other role. In a Twenty20 you have 120 balls to influence the game as a fielder, yet as a batter you could be out first ball.

Keep Fighting: A Cricketer's Guide to Motivation

It was the summer of 2009. My club side had romped to victory in the league.

I could not have had a more demotivating season.

In fact, I was more motivated a couple of seasons later when the same side finished dead bottom of the division and were on the opposite side of weekly drubbings.

I'm not crazy.

It's a common situation because motivation is about far more than how you do as a player or a team.

When you know this, you can make changes to stay motivated through the whole year, even when things are not going as planned.


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: 305
Date: 2014-05-02