Pitchvision Academy


Ever wondered how AB DeVilliers, Virat Kohli and Hashim Amla are so good at rotating the strike against spin?

This week we examine some drills to help you get just as good.

Plus, if you are loving the drills there are even more from Sam Lavery and Gary Palmer to assist with batting fitness, running and learning the straight bat shots.

Apologies if you are a bowler, but even the bowlers need to be run-makers these days, so why not take this week as a way to up your skills?

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Take Singles to Spin Like Kohli with These Drills

Have you ever wondered how the best players of spin seem to score off almost every ball that they face?

Players such as AB DeVilliers, Virat Kohli and Hashim Amla rarely face two balls in a row unless they score a boundary. The board keeps ticking over with little or no risk.


The these players have mastered single options to never get tied down even against high quality spin.

Here are the things you can work on to up your rotation skills:

Single down the ground

This is a vital shot as most limited over cricket against spin is played with either one, or both straight men back on the fence. The ability to "beat the bowler" on either side is crucial.

Kohli has learnt that to beat the bowler on deliveries landing anywhere from back of a length to half volley.

Hitting straight singles drill

Many players set up drills where they strike the ball between two goals either side of the anticipated reach of the bowler. Simple use of cones will help to increase a batter's precision. As the skill develops, the goal can be made smaller and smaller to build confidence.

Remember, that the goal on the bowler's side of the wicket will be slightly smaller than the batters side. This is because excellent players of singles down the ground use the non-striker as a blocker to prevent the bowler from cutting the ball off.

To progress this drill, make note of the goal widths and the numbers of balls faced vs. the number of balls that go into each goal. This way, the practice is measurable and the data will support any player's confidence and competence development.

You can also change the thrower for a bowler. This way a bowler can practice fielding off of their own bowling as well as the batters developing their skills.

Single offside drop

This is a low risk option, which often causes the fielding side to argue and bicker when played regularly against them.

Michael Clarke is magnificent at this. He either plays forward with the intention of dead batting it just beyond the keeper's reach into the vacant space just in front of square on the off side or he pushes back off his left foot into leg stump and nudges the ball into the same area off the back foot.

The keeper and fielders all converge on the same ball and the batters complete a simple run.

To practice this, lay out 2 semi circles of cones on the off side of the stumps from the batting stumps end. One circle is 5 metres in radius, the larger one 8 metres in radius.

The intention of the drill is to hit deep cover and deep mid off with hard hit shots, yet when the ball goes into defensive lengths, the batter is asked to find a way of manoeuvring the ball into the "void" between the two circles.

If the ball is hit too hard and goes through both circles, then the fielders on the one have a chance of completing a run out. If the ball doesn’t reach the first circle, then the keeper will have a run out opportunity also.

Having control of pace off the bat is as important as being able to find a gap when rotating strike against spin.

As a progression, put a keeper in place and she can practice hunting the ball in these areas and throws at the stumps. The batters can practice calling, the judgement of a run and sprinting in competition with the keeper.

It's competitive and fun. Soon you will see your players taking these types of runs and completing keeper led run outs.

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Cricket Show S5 Episode 25: Carrom Ball Googly

You want cricket tips? The team of Mark Garaway, Sam Lavery and David Hinchliffe have half an hour of them, interspersed with stories and banter.

This week we tackle the sticky issue of Gara's dog, a carrom ball bowler with pace issues, and how to judge those tricky ones, twos and threes when you are batting. Plus we get feedback from a previous question to tie up some loose ends.

Download the show now to join the fun.


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 268.

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How to Teach Beginner Cricketers to Play Straight

Picture the scene, you are coaching a group of keen 9-11 year old players.

You tell a 10 year old to drive, and you ask him to demonstrate the shot. He shadows it perfectly. Excellent.

You do some drills with a tennis ball and, with a little effort, he hits it back straight. Now we are talking!

You finish the session with a soft ball game: He swipes at the first half volley and tries to put it over square leg.



Back to the drawing board: If only they listened! If only you had more time! If only there more more coaches for one to one attention!

It's frustrating but you are not alone. It happens to every coach. It's your job to use your skills teach him or her to translate the shadow to the drill and finally to the open game situation. Remember; that's not easy and it's a test to your skill as a coach as well as the cricketer's ability to learn.

What's rewarding is when a kids does get it right. That makes all the pain worthwhile.

You are watching the match, your girl is batting and gets a half volley. Instead of hacking at it and getting out she executes a checked drive between the bowler and mid on. You smile to yourself and clap in satisfaction. It feels better than if you had hit that ball yourself.

Here is how you can get much more of that warm feeling and much less of that frustrated one.

Groove drives in the warm up

Grooving is boring to kids because there is no competition. Yet it's also a very fast way to build up muscle memory.

So, find a balance and count grooving as part of the warm up.

Use tennis balls and partners and focus on one or two technical points. Hit a few balls and move on quickly. If you want to do a little more grooving work, you can transition into a challenge such as hitting a target area 10 times in a row.

How long you spend here will depend on the time you have and the tolerance of your beginners. However, 15 minutes for a warm up and grooving in an hour session has worked well for me.

Of course, repetition is good but you also never want to hear those dreaded words "oh, not this one again".

So, there are plenty of batting drills with a technical focus that you can use to prevent boredom: one hand drills, the flamingo drill, quick-fire batting and plenty more. (See Gary Palmer's work for more details of these drills.)

Make feeds realistic

As we know, technical muscle memory is only a third of batting skill. You also need to spot line and length and decide to play the drive. That means you need to help your players develop these elements right from the start as well.

The ideal way of doing this is for a bowler of the same age to deliver drivable balls. Which is impossible.

You can simulate bowling instead:

  • Bowling machine (with shorter legs for younger players)
  • Throwdowns/bowldowns from the coach or other reliable feeder

That way you can more balls in the right place to drive, but also factor in picking line and length. To also add shot selection you can throw in the odd ball that is not there for the drive.

Neither is perfect, but at least it gets the player thinking about the other two thirds of batting.

Focus here less on the process of the shot (high elbow, etc.) and more on the outcome such as where the ball went. It's in this part of the process that you can give players a little more room to work things out rather than copy "perfect" methods that might not work for them.

Reward straight shots in games

In a group setting, it's not easy to do realistic feeds to large numbers of players, so you can integrate the feeds into a small sided game where everyone else fields while waiting for a bat.

Then you can bias the games towards rewarding the drives. Here is an idea from coach Andrew Beaven:

"Play a game where the only scoring strokes allowed are in the V, and the players will start to adapt. Even if the bowling is a little wayward, batters will be encouraged to adjust their position at the crease (side-to-side) if they are to hit wider deliveries straight back past the bowler.

"Then move sway from the negative restriction ('you can only score if you hit straight') to positive reinforcement ('double runs for all straight hits' or 'boundaries only if you hit it past the bowler')."

Of course mistakes will be made, and a good idea is to track players scores over a few sessions to see improvements.

Most of all: Have fun!

This has been a dive into deep waters, but let's not forget beginners are motivated by having fun above all else. So keep it light, short and make sure everyone is moving as much as posisble.

For me a key way to do this is to not make driving a "technique" but an "outcome". In other words, let players see how straight shots work better in the long run, then help them learn when to play them so they can work out the rest themselves. If it's fun, it sticks.

It's a challenge to which most will rise if you have the patience and the fun elements.

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Training Survey: The Results and Analysis

Last week we asked PitchVision Academy readers how you train.

Here are the results.

If you filled in the form, many thanks. If you didn't, you can still look over the stats and come to your own conclusions about how you can tweak your training based on what other people do.

So, let's take a look.

Score More Runs With These 2 Tweaks to Nets

Cricket coach and PitchVision columnist Sam Lavery tackles how to integrate running into net sessions.

Runs are the currency we value the most. So how do we go about improving how many runs we can score?

There are two simple ways:

Either improve our ability to hit the ball with a range of shots, improve our ability to run, or both.


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: 314
Date: 2014-07-04