Pitchvision Academy


Facebook teaches us a valuable lesson about cricket this week. What is it? Read on to find out!

Plus, we take a look at the mid-season slump, bowling machines and boring nets (or how to stop them). Practice makes perfect, and so does perfect practice. Find out more in the newsletter this week!

Have a good weekend,

David Hinchliffe

What Facebook Teaches About Cricket Advice

"The worst vice is advice" - Al Pacino in The Devil's Advocate

There is a strange thing that happens on the PitchVision Academy Facebook page, and it teaches something about human nature that you can take into your cricket.


You see, every day I post a video of a player using the PitchVision system from the thousands that hit our servers and here's the thing;

Every post gets a pile of coaching comments, mostly focusing on the technical flaws. Everyone has an opinion.

The thing is, that's not just true on Facebook. It happens every week in nets as players advise each other, the coach chips in with his thoughts and after practice there is usually a parent, uncle or even passing bystander with a pithy solution to all your cricketing issue.

Everyone has an opinion.

As the player in the middle of all this noise, how are you supposed to process it and turn it into something you can use? After all, you are supposed to go on the field with an uncluttered mind, yet there is never more clutter around to get into your head!

The death of the textbook

Now more than ever we know that most elements of technique are negotiable. The textbook is long gone and everything is open to the power of difference.

Sure, you have to hold the bat by the handle. I can't think of any successful cricketers who bat with the hands the wrong way round. You probably need to keep your eyes level and head still. Probably.

After that, all bets are off: Trigger moves, backlifts, hand dominance, shoulder position, scoring areas... everything else on the list is open to differences.

It's a similar picture for bowling.

When you realise this, you start to realise how useless advice becomes unless it is highly specific to you.

If someone posts on Facebook that you need to "keep your front foot straight" after seeing your video, you might want to take that advice. It certainly sounds sensible. It has the word straight in it. What if that is the secret to success that you have been missing all along?

Except, it probably isn't. The advice was given out of any context. The well-meaning advisor could be the world's greatest coach (or just some guy who has only ever watched some cricket on TV) he or she doesn't know your way of playing so at best it's throwing a dart at a board in the pitch darkness.

A better way to handle advice

This is not to have a go at Facebook. Or the advisor. Social media has provided a way to communicate instantly and that is a powerful tool.

Let's assume that all advice is well meaning from wherever it comes. You still need to make sure it's right.

So it's here you can use a simple system of turning good advice into runs and wickets while avoiding the bad stuff:

  1. Collect. Before acting on advice you need to capture it, most likely in a place that is not your head. If you try and keep it in your brain you will end up trying to follow the advice before you know if it's any good. Be strong. Say "thank you" and note it down.
  2. Process. Sit down with each bit of advice and think it through mindfully. First decide if it's worth exploring. If not, chuck it out (or file it away for trying another time).
  3. Organise and Review. If it's worth doing, you need to decide how you are going to do it. Most changes are not trivial. You need to put some work in and that means planning how you will the change. Sure, if it's simple then just do it, but if it takes time you will have to put aside some training sessions.
  4. Do it. The final step is the most obvious. As a result most people just straight to "doing" without any form of mental processing beforehand. As we know, this is fraught with dangers.

It may seem over the top to take an offhand comment on Facebook and turn it into a full blown review. The fact is, this whole procedure may take 10 seconds (if you decide the advice is no good). For other advice you will certainly want to think about it for longer.

The key is that you are mindfully reviewing everything within the context of your game. You know better than anyone what works for you. While you might not always be right, you will always have a better hit rate than the combined advice of everyone else.

Discuss this article with other subscribers

Cure the Mid Season Slump with These Simple Tips (Part 2)

Last week we looked at a couple of trusted methods to turn mid season slumps into season ending purple patches.

But keeping a team firing right until the end of the summer is tough. The run in can seem endless, especially with poor form to cast doubt on ability. If last weeks strategies aren't completely doing the job then these additional upgrades will get your players right on track.


Slow, deep breathing

Anxiety is the enemy of any player wanting to recover from a mid-season slump. Anxiety causes muscles to become tense and movements become heavy and slow.

To alleviate this sensation, many players concentrate on controlling their breathing to calm themselves down and increase their focus on the things that really matter.

I encourage players to practice the skill of slow and deep breathing away from the pressures of the middle. Players can master this anxiety beating technique before taking it into the nets and them into gameplay.

Slow, deep breaths. It's a very simple, yet cracking slump busting strategy.

Unlock your inner rockstar

This is an NLP strategy that has worked for many elite sporting icons in tough situations. Lots of rugby goal kickers and top tennis players have told me that they would play with a song whirling in their heads or even humming their favourite tune to take the minds focus away technical limitations or performance pressures.

To start a player with this strategy I ask them to either bat in nets with their headphones on or have music playing through a nearby speaker. The player gets into the habit of humming or singing quietly as they running up or wait for the bowler to bowl.

Young players in particular take to this very quickly and it really works. Give it a go.

  • West Indian Carlisle Best used to commentate on the deliveries he would face! This amused many opposing slip fielders yet worked off the same NLP strategic foundation. I have not used this approach yet but it worked for Carlisle so may work for you too.
  • Some Test bowlers have used a counting method to distract their minds on their way back from poor performance. Simply count the steps in the approach as you hit the ground each time. This works as a distraction technique and also helps a bowler to build a sense of rhythm in their approach. This is something that all bowlers crave for and yet rhythm is often the first thing that a bowler complains about when the wickets start to dry up.

Act like your favourite player

Encourage a struggling player to actually pretend that they are "inside the boots" of one of their favourite players as they run in to bowl or when facing a bowler. This is another NLP technique that works wonders to reverse a slump.

This strategy can become part of a visualisation process or a physical one out in the middle.

I used to pretend that I was Mark Waugh to get me out of a slump.

Now obviously, I never looked like him, I couldn't play the wrists shots that he did but I did find that my game would improve when I pretended to be Mark Waugh.

I even bought a pair of Slazenger batting gloves to make the experience feel more authentic!

Don't laugh, it always worked for me.

Techniques like these work well for some people, but not all players. That's why I use them as upgrades to add value to the more conventional breathing, enjoyment and feel strategies that we discussed last week.

You are now armed with a tool box of tips that will make the mid-season blues a distant memory.

Discuss this article with other subscribers

Cricket Show S5 Episode 33: Quickfire Coaching

If you can't get enough cricket coaching and playing tips, this is the 30 minutes for you, with a focus on quickfire tips this week, including fielding drills, batting techniques, fast bowling, cricket tactics and how to bowl a bouncer!

Plus there are in-depth discussions on picking and playing short bowling, and how to fit an SAQ plan into your fast bowling training.

All that and much more, ready for download. Listen now!


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 276.

Discuss this article with other subscribers

Stay Focused During Boring Nets with a Competitive Edge

I was chatting to Matt Dawson - Head Coach at Cricket Asylum - about the problem of young net bowlers "messing about".

I'm sure you recognise this: The session starts well but as attention span wanes, young bowlers tend to start entertaining themselves. The try to distract each other, run in while finishing a conversation or decide to "bowl leg spin" all of a sudden (and it goes into the side netting).

Of course, fun is a key aspect of training - especially in teenage players - but training time is limited and for most the goal is also to get better at cricket.

So how do you deal with it?

Matt's answer was insanely simple.

Drills to Get You Out of the Bowling Machine Blues

Coach and county cricketer Chris Watling returns with another article, this time on bowling machines.

Bowling machines are not always good.

We all like to get on the machine and smack 3 or 4 buckets of cover drives. It's good for confidence, it's good to feel the ball out of the middle of the bat and it puts you in a good frame of mind.

Is it actually doing you any good?

The reality of it is, you know you can hit a cover drive well most of the time. How much do you really need to spend your limited practice time doing something you can already nail?

How much are you getting into position the ball even shoots out?

Isn't it better to expand your game by taking yourself out of your comfort zone?


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.


Want Coaching?

Send to a Friend

Do you have a friend or team mate who would be interested in this newsletter? Just hit "forward" in your email program and send it on.

If you received this email from a friend and would like to get subsequent issues, you can subscribe here.


PitchVision Academy

irresistable force vs. immovable object

Thank you for subscribing to PitchVision Academy.
Read more at www.pitchvision.com


To unsubscribe eMail us with the subject "UNSUBSCRIBE (your email)"
Issue: 322
Date: 2014-08-29