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We pride ourselves in this newsletter in providing excellent, useful information every week. But this week is a real doozy even by those standards!

We look at a study that is shedding light on exactly why batsmen play "out of character" shots to get out, and come up with some ways to stop it. There is a batting drill from Shiv Chanderpaul that will test you to the limits. And Steffan Jones gets to the heart of bowling at the death:

Stop messing about and hit some toes (and some stumps).

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Study Reveals Why You Played That Stupid Shot... and Why You Can't Believe You Did It

Jordan Finney underwent research into the mental side of batting. In this article he explains what he found in his study, and how you can apply his findings when you are under pressure as a batsman.

What does the batting powerplay tell us about cricket at every level of the game?

It is obvious that increasing the number of fielders placed in 30 yard circle will cut down singles and make boundaries a more effective way of scoring. There should be no reason why batsmen cannot clear the 30 yard circle at least.

Yet since the introduction of the batting powerplay, it has been more effective for the bowling side, with the number of wickets taken during this period increasing noticeably.

This provided me with food for thought for my study.


Dealing with pressure

I figured that there must be a mental side of the game that affects batsman during this period of the game, and I ultimately wanted to find out:

  • Were there increased stress levels during the batting powerplay?
  • What caused these increased stress levels?
  • What did the batsman try to do to cope with these increased stress levels?
  • Were these stressors and coping strategies common across the entire subject base?

The was the starting point of my study called Common Stressors and Subsequent Coping Strategies Used During High Pressure Situations in Elite Cricket: The Batting Powerplay

From the very start of the very first pilot interview, it was noticeable to me that there was increased stress, and increased pressure during the batting powerplay.

Every single person interviewed made the point that everything seems to be "heightened" during the batting powerplay period; general pressures related to that game, the pressures of facing a particular bowler, and the pressures placed on the batsman from outside of the game.

My questioning progressed on from this and delved deeper into the hidden meanings.

  • The vast majority of stressors were specific to the sport of cricket, and not highlighted among stressor research in other sports, highlighting that cricketers require different mental approaches than other sports people.
  • The majority of stressors revolved around personal game related factors such as: Required run-rate, lack of boundaries, peer evaluation, facing dot balls and loss of wickets.
  • Opposition effects were the second most common source of stressor, examples such as: field Changes, change of bowler, matching oppositions powerplay
  • The majority of stressors experienced during the batting powerplay are related to run scoring.
  • The majority of stressors were experienced by at least two thirds of the subject base.
  • Multiple coping strategies were used by batsman in an attempt to counteract one stressor. Rather than using just one technique to cope with one stressor.
  • The batsman relying on their own knowledge of the game and their own planning was the most common forms of coping strategy used.
  • The use of multiple strategies means that batsman are thinking about a large number of things during the batting powerplay.

Does any of this ring a bell with you in your own pressure situations?

How understanding powerplay pressure helps you

It's clear how much can be gained from an academic perspective when looking into the batting powerplay, but how is this related to playing and coaching of cricket?

Firstly from this study, you learn that you - or the players you coach - are not alone with these thoughts. This allows for much better practices for dealing with stressors.

You can then adopt techniques and training methods that will allow you to deal with these thoughts. You do this by;

  • Block out the instant idea of "lack of runs"
  • Focus on the opportunity for runs.
  • Understand scoring areas better, and score in safe areas without doing anything uncharacteristic.

At the moment batsmen use multiple strategies, often without clear thought. You are thinking about so much during such a short period of time you are adding to stress rather than dealing with it.

The role of the coach in pressure

In my mind, coaches should look to try and replicate stressful conditions and not only look to coach batsman technically. To understand, batsmen need to air what they are thinking, which allows the coach to help them come up with ways of keeping their brain clear of all negative thoughts and keep their focus on the main objectives.

Similarly, understanding player stressors and coping strategies helps coaches to get to know their players better. This is good for current players, and for future players under the same coach with similar personalities.

Remember your brain

We have all walked back from the middle thinking "why did I play that shot?"

It's clear from my research that the increased thought processes are the reasoning behind uncharacteristic stroke play.

I believe more can be done from a coaching and playing perspective in preparation and in reflection to help players keep stress free.

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The Chanderpaul Manipulation Drill: One of the Best Bowling Machine Drills I Nearly Forgot

Andrew Strauss reminded today of a brilliant bowling machine drill which we were introduced to by Shiv Chanderpaul.

I'm very particular about how to use bowling machines effectively. They can be great, but I see a lot of monotonous practice which simply repeats a shot over and again with no specific focus. This drill dodges the problems perfectly.

Shiv would set up a machine and put the speed up to 80+ mph. He would adjust it to deliver maximum swinging balls from outside off into middle stump on a perfect length.

Now that's pretty testing, eh?

He would then ask himself to hit the ball around the clock face from 3rd man to straight through to fine leg off this highly challenging ball using his body position and wrists to open up different angles of the clock face:

  1. Fine of 3rd man
  2. 3rd Man
  3. Backward Point/gully
  4. Point
  5. Cover
  6. Extra cover
  7. Mid off
  8. Bowler/Bowling machine
  9. Mid on
  10. Straight mid wicket
  11. Mid wicket
  12. Square leg
  13. Backward square leg
  14. Fine leg
  15. Inside fine leg

Why is this important?

It's an overload drill: If he can find a way of manipulating the 85mph swinging ball to a variety of areas on the cricket field then it's likely that he would be able to cope against slower speeds and less movement in a match situation.

He can also establish which of his manipulation shots is most effective, reliable and useful to him. Thus, eliminating the other shots that he is testing that don't come up to scratch.

Wouldn't it be nice to know which are your top 5 manipulation areas?

It promotes problem solving. So, if you're stuck on the angle of hitting it to extra cover, it encourages you to work out a body position solution that can deal with the task at hand. In this case, the batter may look to start outside the line of leg stump and allow the ball to swing back into the middle of his bat on its way extra cover rather than using the hands only to get the ball to the desired spot.

Ultimately as batters, we have to come up with solutions to many problems and both the actual solution and the process that leads to the solution are valuable things to practice.

Chanderpaul eliminates risk from his game fantastically and fanatically. This is why his Test batting average is so high and why he often ends up holding the West Indies batting line up together in shorter formats.

Chanderpaul doesn't do this by practising safely.

He achieves this by pushing himself to the edge of comfortable so that he confirms which options are best for him and for any given situation or circumstance.

Drill progressions

  • Slow the pace or lessen the swing initially. Get used to how the body needs to move and adapt in order to come up with solutions.
  • Record how many goes it takes for a player to hit all of the targeted angles. When the batter has succeeded, give them another go.
  • Once the score has been lowered twice, move on to a slight quicker speed or more swing (maybe a combination of both). Call this Level 2. Better your score twice and then up the Level again.
  • If working with a squad then keep a note of the speed and movement in each level. You will have consistency then which promotes competition within the group and lowering your PB.

You can even set up a league table and watch people climb up the Chanderpaul Drill League table.

Give it a go and let me know how you get on.

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Cricket Show S5 Episode 38: Adapting Your Line and Length

Some people say line and length is simple and all stattos should put away the measuring stick. What do the team of Sam Lavery, Mark Garaway and David Hinchliffe think though?

You can find out by downloading this show. Alongside this question we also examine the idea of a "natural" line and length, and deal with a frustrated leg spinner who can't get a bowl even though he is awesome!

Have a listen and give your feedback!


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

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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 281.

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5 Questions to Ask Your Cricket Coach

Cricket coaching has come a long way since the master "tell" coach shouted orders at you and expected you to follow blindly along. Now it's a two way relationship.

That's because no one coach has all the answers for all the people. Good coaches have great knowledge and experience, and they also understand that every player is on a different journey. They are open to questions, feedback and ideas.

It's your job as a player to ask questions, respectfully challenge the ideas of the coach and develop a relationship of trust, even if you are just part of a squad with no one to one time (especially then, in fact).

Here are 5 ways you can open up discussion with your coach in a friendly and open manner.

Everyone Stop Messing About and Bowl Some Yorkers

Steffan Jones bowled a yorker or two in his time and he wants to stem the flood away from bowling them. Here is how to take out those toes.

Why is the yorker going out of the game?

Maybe you have been told that by trying to bowl the yorker you are likely to either bowl a full toss or a half volley.These days those balls will disappear into the stands either over long-on or ramped over the keeper. The batters have got stronger and the bats have got bigger so the margin of error has decreased. Bowling a yorker is a risky business.

But you know what?

A true yorker still remains a ball you can't hit for six.


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: 327
Date: 2014-10-03