Pitchvision Academy


One of the traits of good players is not how good they are naturally, but how fast they learn and get better. So, this week we examine how you can emulate these players by learning how you learn.

Plus, we talk checklists, invisible boxes and how to deal with chucking in the Cricket Show.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

How the Best Cricketers Improve Quickly

Why do some people pick up cricket skills better and faster than others?

Talent? Maybe.

Grit? Possibly.

Knowing yourself? Absolutely.

Don't panic, I'm not suggesting you disappear for 7 years on a journey of discovery to confront your guilt and become a Ninjitsu master like Batman. Learning how you learn is simply a matter of trying things until you find the methods that click with you most quickly. Everyone is different, so keep trying; you'll find several that work.


Are drills the answer to cricket skills?

Drilling is the most common way people want to learn cricket skills. It certainly works. If you repeat something enough times, you will learn. That's exactly how you taught yourself to walk and talk as a baby.

Drilling is, by nature, dull and repetitive. You have to do it far more than you think you need to for it to carry over into mastery in a game. That's when a healthy dose of
persistence, long-term passion and focus come into play. You might be the type of person who has those traits. You might be the type of person who can develop them over time. That's good because if you want drilling to work, you will need them.

If you don't have the attention to burn, perhaps you can drill less and try other ways.

Even if you do, there are often times when drilling alone is not enough. Let's have a look at some other ways to develop.

Improve by critical thinking

Drills are great, but they can be mindless: Your coach sets up the drill, you hit or bowl some balls and you go home. Wait for the magic to happen (even with a good review process). For some, the magic needs a little more fairy dust. With critical thinking you can sprinkle that dust on your game.

Set some time aside, especially but not exclusively if you have a problem to solve, and think critically about your approach to your development as a cricketer:

  • Ask questions. Be confident enough to ask "why", both to yourself and others. Often the answer will surprise you and cause a change.
  • Look at yourself. You are a mine of experience, spend some time thinking how you solved problems in the past for some self-taught insights into your current problems.
  • Take a fresh angle. If you are a bowler, think about things from the viewpoint of a batter (and vice versa).
  • Experiment. Most importantly, be open to trying new things in practice. With a mind primed for new methods, you might find something that you never thought you could do hiding in your skill set.

Use the information fire hose

You'll be surprised how much you can develop simply through drilling and reflecting internally. But maybe that's not something you enjoy. Lucky for you there is a metaphorical fire hose of ideas that you can spray right into your brain.

You still need to evaluate the information, and decide to try it or reject it, but there is no shortage of ways to consume it, based on what your brain likes best:

It doesn't end there.

If you consume widely with a critical mind - fiction, TV, films, music and radio - you find yourself coming up with strange connections between totally different areas. One might just give you the creative boost you want in your game. Even if it doesn't you get a heck of a lot of enjoyment out of all that amazing culture.

The common element is that the most successful players learns the fastest.

They don't do all these things. They do know what things work for them, and do them more. They do them with passion, they push themselves and they stick with them over the long haul. You would think that is tough, but it's really much easier than you think because they have found a method that resonates with their way.

Once you do the same, you will improve as fast as you possibly can.

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Cricket Show S5 Episode 36: Live from Millfield

It's a rare "IRL" meet up for David Hinchliffe and Mark Garaway as the pair go head to head over the table at Millfield school. Sam Lavery dials in over Skype to make up the dream team.

What's on that table for discussion? Bowling with a 15 degree flex in the arm, the most important elements of fast bowling, thoughts on coaching and ways to unite cricket teams under a common culture even when player aims are diverse.

Get into it and download it 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 279.

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Use the Invisible Box to Become a Better Batsman

This is a guest post on batting skills from Laurie Ward of the Complete Cricketer Academy.

If you were offered the wisdom of Sunil Gavaskar, Ricky Ponting and Brian Lara, I am guessing that you might be interested?

These gems are extremely simple and have been the cornerstone of our batting coaching at The Complete Cricketer Academy, with unbelievable results and a better understanding and "feel" for the players.


The Invisible Wall

Sunil Gavaskar had to open the batting against some of the most deadly bowlers in history, before the advent of proper helmets. He would often have to face the likes of Michael Holding or Andy Roberts on bouncy, fast tracks with only a floppy hat to protect him from the harsh West Indian sun.

The Indian opener came up with an amazingly simple solution to help him stay still and give himself the best chance to see the ball on release from the hand.

He would find a straight, smooth wall in the changing room and set himself up with his cheek touching the cool wall. When in the middle, he would imagine this wall against his face and make a sub-conscious effort to not move his head until the ball had been released.

Ricky Ponting used the visor of his helmet to try to keep his eyes level before delivery. Add this to the invisible wall and we create an invisible right angle to keep the head still and level.

In our High Performance Centre, we have a bowling machine net with a protective net in front of the feeder. With this, we can line up a player's off side cheek with a line on the net. This can be done after a trigger, and before release of a delivery.

Another way to do this is to gauge against the back net or put lines behind the batter for reference.

When a player trusts and feels the stillness on release the results and belief are incredible: The players make better, later decisions, creating later, more positive movements and therefore a later contact, closer to the line of the eyes.

We can track this on camera and give the player immediate visual feedback, comparing when they are still on release compared to a movement as the ball is released.

This leads into the second "invisible".

The Invisible Box

This concept helps a player to feel where ball strike takes place, and the difference between partial contact and hitting the sweet spot. We are trying to get the player to feel where the optimum "strike zone" is for each delivery type.

If you have played Wii Golf or a computer game that requires power and timing, there is often a power bar with a line moving up for you to stop for optimum control and power.

This represents the invisible box in batting.

If you hit too early or too late on Wii Golf you can see the effects and actually feel the remote buzzing in your hand. It is the same with striking a cricket ball. We get our batters to start with an imaginary box the size of a shoebox say, and try to let the ball "come into the box".

Depending on which shot is being played, the box is in a different place, but will remain close to the line of the eyes.

On a front foot drive, the box is under the eyes and close to the front pad. If the batter strikes too early, outside the box, they will tend to toe-end the ball more than hit the middle of the bat. This also increases risk and reduces power. Once a player strikes a ball in the box they can feel that less force is required due to the timing. Once they trust and buy in to this concept they make dramatic strides to playing tighter, yet increasing power and control through timing.

Brian Lara's main tip for batting, when prompted by former team mate Andy Moles, was to watch the ball on to and off the bat. This, in reality, is not feasible, but it does tie in perfectly with the Invisible Box and playing the ball in line with or under the eyes.

The beauty of these thoughts and mental imagery are that they are so simple, yet so powerful.

Once a player is absolutely still, but poised and balanced, at the exact release of the ball, it allows his eyes to feed clearer information for the brain to read and use in decision making. This increases the amount of time a player feels he has. He can use this additional time to make more positive, later movements, which in turn add cleaner momentum to the body and foot movements and bat presentation.

The later movements then allow later contact and therefore increased power in attack or control in defence.

All of the greats of batting have seemed to have more time than us mere mortals. It is not superior eyesight, Hashim Amla springs to mind, but getting these simple and effective skills honed and believing in them.

Click here to find out more about the Complete Cricketer Academy, a PitchVision venue.

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Here is Your Cricket Season Wrap Up Checklist

Coach Sam Lavery talks about post-season planning before you put your gear away for a few months.

As the season comes to an end, regaining evenings and weekends is an attractive prospect. But as the final match passes, is is there still one final push we can give?

Absolutely! The final wrap up of the season is as valuable as those last words before you players take to the field for their first game.

Become a Cricketer: 5 Ways to Get Ignored and Overlooked

Do you want to be a cricketer? Then read this all the way though.

It's time for some tough love.

We get many, many comments and emails every day from hopeful players. The passion is clear however, the methods used are guaranteed to mean that you will be overlooked and never make you dreams come true. There is a negative pattern that is increasing in volume. You want our help, we want to give it but we can't because you are setting yourself up to be ignored.

You are better than that.

So here are those pitfalls.


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: 325
Date: 2014-09-19