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It's easy to assume cricket performance is tied mainly to technique. In fact, it's an intricate weaving together of pure technique and mental toughness.

But what does that really mean?

We profile some of the latest thinking into both the mental game (especially how it helps with technique) and technique (and how it adapts to culture and personality). There are some fabulous pieces from Chris Watling and Mark Garaway, and a debut from research completed by Junaid Iqbal.

Get stuck in!

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Is There Really One Simple Change That Corrects Almost Every Bowling Technical Error?

I'll cut to the chase; there is a simple change to your bowling action that is a big hitter in fault correction.

Straighten your run up.

You see, when it comes to technique, so much that goes wrong can be traced back to an earlier point. That's why batting coaches focus on the grip and stance first, and it's why your bowling coach should look at your run up before he starts with the "business end" of the action.

Of course, a straighter run up will not fix everything, and there are exceptions to the rule. That said, there is plenty that can be done without ever worrying about 6 months of corrective drills and rebuilding your action.

So, spinner or seamer, Here are some of the things a straighter run up can correct:


Better accuracy

"Balance at the crease" is a coaches way of saying "helps you bowl straight".

When you run straight you tend to move through your action straight. If you approach at an angle, your weight is desperate to continue on that angle (say, towards leg slip).

To correct this, your body naturally adjusts and you end up "falling away"; the term used when your head leans to the side to allow your arm to come through straight.

When this happens it is much harder to bowl straight.

By running straighter, you make it easy to bowl straight. Your head can go over your front leg and you can get your wrist behind the ball. Your action becomes repeatable and so does your line.

More speed

I'll let you into a little coaching secret; a lot of pace - and turn for spinners - is generated by your hips. The more powerfully you can drive your hip through as you bowl, the more energy you can put into kph or rpm.

How does the run up help with this?

Many bowler's have an issue of being too "closed off". This is where the front leg crosses over past the back leg. This stops you from driving your hip through because your front leg has, literally, closed off the path for your hip. The result; you bowl with less pace.

And it's much more common in bowlers with off centre run ups because your weight is moving towards leg slip. Straightening up your run straightens your momentum. Your feet can get into the right place for more speed or rip.

Exceptions to the rule

Of course, so far we have only spoken in generalisations. There are many specific exceptions. There are bowlers with curved run ups who bowl with pace and accuracy who sit alongside straight run up bowlers with neither.

So the first question to ask is this: do I have an issue with pace or accuracy?

If you bowl at a good lick and can hit your lines well with a curved run up, you should probably keep it. It actually helps with swing and spin bowling sometimes.

If you feel you need to make a change, a straighter run up is very often the answer you are seeking.

image credits: brianac37. Gordon Anderson

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Could the England Rugby Coach Catapult your Cricket Club into a Glorious Future?

In the last few weeks I have worked alongside England Rugby's Head Coach, Stuart Lancaster. Stuart has turned the fortunes of the England Rugby team round since he took the post in 2012.

What can we learn as cricket coaches from his story of success?

The main focus areas in his first years in the job have been lessons that can be easily transferred to a cricket club:

  1. to make robust decisions about the age profile of his squad.
  2. to establish a strong environment that allows them to develop at an accelerated rate.

When Stuart spoke of these two things, it took me straight back to my time as Somerset CCC Head coach.

In 2004 I inherited an ageing squad that was past it's peak and - with the help of Director of Cricket, Brian Rose - we made robust decisions concerning a number of the senior players. This allowed the young and talented Academy players early exposure into 1st Class Cricket.

These decisions are tough.

You are dealing with good players and excellent people. Telling someone that you are leaving them out of a side or that you are not renewing their contract is never fun, yet the long term vision for your sporting organisation is always bigger and more important than any individual.

Stuart cut a number of senior players from the England set up, chose youth and embarked on building a environment that would allow his young charges to grow.

5 cricket lessons from rugby

Stuart told me that he loves the way that the present squad operate as they do the following 5 things:

  1. They love playing for each other and enjoy each other's successes, even if it means your mate is taking your spot in the team or some of your limelight.
  2. They love playing for their country. This has been underpinned by regular visits from England Rugby greats who come and talk of their experiences and what playing for your country means to them.
  3. The group enjoy learning from other sports and sporting greats. Double Ashes winning captain, Andrew Strauss was with the squad recently and the players gleamed as much info from Straussy as they could.
  4. "Never die wondering": This is one of Stuarts mantras. It's disappointing to lose, yes. But it's worse to lose when you haven't given yourself every chance of winning. Play positive rugby, always. Make positive decisions, always.
  5. Respect your audience, connect with them at every opportunity. It would be safe to say that England Rugby, pre-Lancaster, had lost it's connection with its supporters. With the 2015 World Cup being in England, it was crucial to project the right messages, play positive rugby and make the supporters proud again. The Twickenham crowd is now the "16th man" of the team.

Is there anything above that can help you develop your club or teams culture?

Will the "Lancaster-way" underpin your clubs future development?

This England Rugby squads age profile suggests that they will begin to peak around 2016/17 yet with the core to their environment so strong and their coach being so inspirational who would bet against them at the 2015 Rugby World Cup?

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Cricket Show S5 Episode 30: It's All About You

How much of cricket performance is about "you"?

Seems an obvious question, but with so many coaches and resources available, it's easy to forget that it's down to you in the end! The team of David Hinchliffe, Mark Garaway and Sam Lavery talk about how you can do it: as either a coach or a player.

You will get stories and experiences on how to be a cricketer and a cricket coach, all under the umbrella of the idea that you are the only one who can really do it. So, download and listen, think about the answers and come up with your own path.

If it helps, you could win an online coaching course to get some drills and skills to try. Not bad for a 30 minute audio show.


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, smart phone or tablet every week automatically. Simply choose your favourite podcast player and do a search for the show:

Or subscribe manually with the RSS feed. Right click here, copy the link and paste it into the appropriate place for adding new feeds in your podcast subscription software or RSS reader.

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 273.

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Better Batting Goes Beyond Technique

Coach and Minor Counties Cricketer, Chris Watling, shares his experiences with another article on using your mind to get you out of bad form and back to run scoring.

When you're in a bit of bad form it's easy to be negative.

I'm sure you know the feeling of being stunted by in your mindset as you approach your next innings: You start to analyse how you’re getting out. You think about your technique. You want to correct those errors.

Stop the mistakes. Stop getting out.

This approach is hurting your game.

Study Reveals How to Improve Cricket Mental Toughness

"The difference between an average cricketer and a top class cricketer is how mentally tough he is."

A recent study has looked at mental toughness through the eyes of cricketers and their coaches. The conclusions have given hope to millions of players.

The work comes from Junaid Iqbal at Leeds University, who researched the latest findings from sport psychology and combined them with experiences from coaches and players at all levels of the game.

His dissertation concluded that mental toughness underpins cricket ability at all levels, and it can be improved in anyone.

Once you know that, you are a step ahead of others still focused on technique alone.

So what does that mean from a practical standpoint?


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: 319
Date: 2014-08-08