Pitchvision Academy


The mental game of cricket comes under the spotlight in this newsletter.

We look at how to better use practice to handle pressure situations, find out the importance of reviewing your performance - even as a coach - and look into the reasons why young players drop out.

Plus, if you have ever had a no ball issue, you will know it's hard to stop. You will want to catch up with the "coin trick" that will solve it once and for all, putting the stress behind you.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Use Nets to Better Grow Your Mental Toughness for Cricket


That's the difference between a net session and a game.

In nets you can roll your arm over, or knock the ball about for 10 minutes and have some fun. Even the best managed nets lack the context of a real game. That means there is no chance for you to develop your mental toughness skills.

Which is kinda a problem. You have to teach yourself how to deal with pressure when you are under pressure.

You end up thinking you are not mentally tough enough because you are afraid of a bouncer.

Or that you can't hit your yorker at the death because you are a natural choker.

In fact, you are not mentally weak, or a choker at all. It's true that some people are naturals in a high-stress game, but if you are not that lucky you can still mental toughness skills.

It's just a matter of adapting your training and reviewing how you react. Deliberate practice for the mind, you might say.

Increase thinking time

Nets are typified by the quickfire nature of balls bowled. With 4 or more bowlers in a net, batters have a few seconds between balls rather than a minute or more. Bowlers don't bother with overs, just rotating round as long as the net continues.

But the time between balls and overs is crucial.It's here that is fraught with danger.

The batsman starts thinking about his technique as the bowler trudges back. The bowler stews at fine leg after bowling a long hop on the last ball of the over. Your reaction to moments like this can make or break your ability to stay in the moment.

So, if you feel this area is causing you problems and you are creating negative self-talk during dead times, then work on some changes to your thinking in nets by adding in those gaps.

  • If you are a batsman, use BATEX or middle practice to increase the down time between balls.
  • If you are a bowler, bowl in overs then take a rest from the net to review the last 6 balls, and your reaction.

Increase difficulty

Have you ever passed up a net because the pitch was poor?

Have you ever passed on bowling when the slogger has his go on a flat one in training?

If you have you are missing a golden chance: Playing in adverse conditions teaches you that cricket is not all sunshine and roses. Digging in, playing ugly and getting the job done is what you need to do.

No matter how well you play, if the odds are against you, you will fail. You get out more. You get hit more. You make more mistakes.

And you realise that the best players ride the luck they get, put failure behind them and get ready for the next ball, not the last one.

So, take every chance to play in conditions that are imperfect and treat those sessions as mental toughness training.

(A sidebar to this is playing the short ball, which is always challenging but is a great way to learn how you react under pressure. Do some training even if you don't face it much.)

Put something on it

Even in nets, you can add pressure by putting something more on the results.

It will never quite be the same, but it will give you a taste of what happens in games, so from there you can learn how you react and develop a method for dealing with anger, frustration and loss of focus.

This can be as simple as saying to the batsman "if I get you out, you owe me a drink". or saying to the bowlers, "whoever hits the target first gets a prize".

Or, you can build things into training:

Here are some more ideas too.

Review every session

So far, all these tricks put you in situations that add pressure to training.

But that is nothing unless you review your reaction after every session.

Ask yourself:

Use your individual answers to plan how you are going to deal with it next time.

When you find your method you will see your confidence soar and your ability under pressure because the same as your skills when everything is going your way.

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New Tricks: What Kids Taught This Old Dog Over the Summer

The Millfield School cricket season has come to an end and my work is not yet done.

Each year I undertake a review of the team performance; the effectiveness of the programme and my effectiveness as a coach. I think reviews are vital for the players and for myself if we are to develop.

So, what have I learnt this year?


Create opportunities for youngsters

The U18 National Finals day was played at the beautiful Arundel Castle ground. Spin bowlers have dominated proceedings in the last few finals days that have been held at the venue. There was a need for a 3rd spin option.

We gave a debut in the semi-final to a 14 year old off spinner.

This raised a few eyebrows amongst observers. Tom is a good bowler, yet his biggest asset is his maturity and ability to read a game of cricket. He is incredibly aware of what is going on around him. I had every faith in him to perform.

Tom took 5-20 in the semi to secure a place in the final.

Even though we ended up losing the final to an excellent Woodhouse Grove School team, the experience galvanised my view on creating opportunity and helped build another stepping stone on Tom's promising development path.

Opportunity knocked for Tom and he took it with both hands.

Perception trumps reality

The first half of the season was tricky. We lost a load of matches in a row. Most worryingly, we kept making the same mistakes.

During one game I asked a 15 year old - David Scott - to give me his views on why this was happening.

He spoke for about 15 minutes and kept stating that we were fearful of making mistakes, hesitant, and lacking confidence.

I asked him what I could do to shift our thinking and our performance.

'Scotty' told me that I should spend more time telling the individual players what they are doing right rather than what they were doing wrong. My perception told me that I was doing that anyway, but his reality challenged that perception.

I reflected on the feedback and decided to make a concerted effort to draw out more positives in our performances, to spend more time with each individual when doing this and to sustain this approach for 2 weeks.

I could then assess the subsequent results in terms of player behaviours, decision making and performance.

As a result of David's feedback the team started to make decisions more quickly and effectively, the runs started to flow, the spirit started to rise and the results started to turn. The team progressed through the National Cup rounds against some excellent teams and ended up at finals day.

When was the last time you asked a 15 year old his opinion on how you can get better as a coach?

David challenged my coaching in the same way as I challenge his cricket. I just hope that my influence on him is as strong as his influence on my performance this year.

Thank you Scotty.

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Cricket Show S5 Episode 26: One Fish Brings Two

If you are a cricket playing fisherman you will love the show! Burners has the angling angle while David Hinchliffe, Mark Garaway and Sam Lavery talk about cricket.

We look at the latest ideas around the 10,000 hour rule, discuss the differences between club and elite coaching, and find out how to play the "inside out" shot over cover.

Download the show and listen to the banter.


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 269.

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How to Stop Young Players Leaving Cricket Forever

I'm sure you recognise this frustration.

You have a talented youngster. He starts missing training sessions. At first he still comes to matches, but more often he is injured, or has a migraine. After a while the parents stop returning your calls and texts altogether.

What's happening to these players? Can you put it down to the modern obsession with Xboxes and iPads and curse technology?


But what if it's closer to home: The focus on results on the pitch?

Use a Coin to Stop Bowling No Balls

Want to stop bowling no balls?

It's a horrible problem because no one has sympathy for you. It's almost like people think you are doing it on purpose. The captain gives you the stink-eye every time and you feel terrible.

Worse, the more you think about it, the harder it gets to bowl well.

So, even when you do stay being the line, you bowl like a drain anyway.

Let's put an end to the pain. Today.


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: 315
Date: 2014-07-11