Pitchvision Academy


From 80s time machines, through an app called Zoe, to a special tunnel, and even bodybuilding.; there appears to be no room for cricket this week. Don't panic, it all ties back to the world's greatest game. We are just calling in some creative ideas to help you get better.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

What Yorkers Teach About Cricket Coaching

I watched a bowling session last week with Kevin Shine, the Lead Fast Bowling Coach for the ECB. The topic was one that was discussed recently by Steffan Jones: bowling yorkers.

English bowlers are rarely excellent at this, the last brilliant English International bowler was Darren Gough and his International career came to an end way back in 2006.

Coaching the Intention

Kevin built a coaching gadget which acts as a tunnel for the Yorker to pass through. He placed it 1.22 metres away from the middle stump and he asked an ex-first class bowler to bowl at it.

The intention was to bowl the ball through the tunnel. The tunnel was adjustable in length to increase the difficultly (intention) as the bowlers competence and results improved.

The intention was clear. Get the ball through the tunnel. Simple.

At the same time, Shine asked a Performance Analyst to video the bowler’s action in high speed camera mode. The bowler initially bowled the ball into length under instruction and then the intention shifted to the "yorker tunnel". We could then compare the bowling actions for the 2 deliveries.

So what was different on the yorker delivery?

  1. The length of the delivery stride increased
  2. The previous point helped the bowler to lower his release height.
  3. This had a positive impact upon the (flatter) trajectory of the ball.

Intention drill results

These are all great adaptations of the body - and for the bowling action - that work well when trying to hit the elusive yorker. But more importantly, did the bowler get better? Did the bowler get the ball through the tunnel?

No he didn't. Far from it!

He only hit the tunnel once in 20 balls, bowled lots of length balls and 3 beamers. He would have been taken off in a game by the umpire.

So, 'Coach the intention; not the action' theory doesn't work then?

Interestingly, what I have described here is the last 10 minutes of the session.

Rewind to the start

The previous 30 minutes was spent giving excellent data and research undertaken around the topic of yorkers by Shine and his ECB team. This research has informed the technical interventions and practices that we as coaches can choose to use. The detailed information was delivered to the group, including the bowler.

The bowler then bowled with all of this information in his head.

Consciously or sub-consciously, he was trying all those things at once and not getting anywhere near the target. His performance was significantly compromised. Now, we must remember that the session had a coach education theme and not a player development one; yet it got me thinking.

How many times we as coaches complicate and obstruct player development rather than unlock potential through intention based coaching?

The knowledge ultimately needs to be with the coach. The coach can then use the knowledge and data to set up appropriate intentions and to know what to look for.

A bowlers body will self-organise to find a solution (in this case a longer delivery stride, lower arm position, faster run up) if we set the right intentions and then coach in an implicit fashion.

Participant feedback

Some of the participants went away from the session saying "that's interesting data".

Some left thinking "I'm not having that! It’s too generic and the bowler got worse."

I went away thinking "That was great, I'm going to use that; just in a different order".

Have you got any examples of "intention based" coaching that has worked for you? Let me know.

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Cricket Show S5 Episode 39: Conquering the Nervous Nineties

If you are reading this, and listening to the show, the chances are that you would like a job in cricket. As host Sam Lavery is in charge of the PitchVision cricket jobs board, he joins David Hinchliffe to chat about job hunt tips, finding a role and jobs in your facebook feed.

Plus, it's not all career advice. There is plenty of cricket, including a batsman with the nice problem of getting out in the 90s, and what to do when everyone is telling you that you are not playing well.

Download the show to listen in.


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!

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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 282.

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Does Being Muscle Bound Really Kill Your Cricket Technique?

I used to play cricket with a bodybuilder. He was a huge guy with muscles like Volkswagen Beatles trying to park. He was a good club batsman and accurate medium pace bowler too. Could he have been better if he spent less time in the gym and more time in the nets?


The idea that muscles are bad for cricket is certainly a common belief in the cricket world from school to professional level. Although our friend above would disagree. The truth is a little more nuanced than just saying "yes" or "no". So let's explore the influence of muscle mass on cricket performance in a little more detail.

Strength or size?

Few people disagree that strength is important in cricket. Strong players bowl faster, hit harder and get less injuries. That's a measurable fact. What is less agreed is the relationship between the muscle size and strength.

We tend to assume the bigger the muscle, the stronger it must be. There is certainly a relationship between size and strength, but it's not 1:1. You can get stronger without increasing muscle size at the same rate. You can also get larger muscles with a much smaller gain in strength. The first is ideal for cricket, the second is more suited to bodybuilding.

So, while strong is good, is size less good?

There is evidence that over large muscles can cause issues. For example, if you have large biceps, the muscle can get so big it impinges into the shoulder, which can contribute to pain and reduced mobility. It's not a sure thing but it is a real possibility.

The general point here is clear: get strong, but do it in ways that focus on maximum strength and power while minimising muscle gain. You will get some increase in pure muscle size no matter what you do, but when you combine this with reductions in excess body fat you will likely not see much of an overall gain in weight.

Size and mobility

Another common criticism of muscle size is that it reduces your mobility and flexibility, and prevents you from getting into good positions for batting and bowling. How true is this?

It's certainly right to say that if you get very big - professional bodybuilder big - you can see a relative reduction in joint mobility. That's not good for cricket, and in fact I have seen this first hand. Our bodybuilder friend above once spent a winter getting huge. He was almost comically large. When he came to bowl in the first preseason net he kept bowling wides. He claimed that he had got so large he could no longer get his arm high enough!

Here's the thing; you have to make a concerted effort to get that big. It doesn't happen by accident, and so if cricket is your priority you will never get to that point.

I would also add that anyone can get stuff if they train in poor ways. You need to stretch and mobilise joints whether you have big or small muscles. Equally, big and small muscle is capable of being made more flexible and mobile around the joint.

So, the take home point is that you need to mobilise with a good warm up no matter who you are, and that only comically large body builders have an excuse.

Overall, for me, it boils down to time.

We all have limited time, and if you have a choice between doing bicep curls in the gym, or having a net then the net will always win for those with a cricket priority. That in itself will prevent the "too big for cricket" problem in its tracks.

Then, when you do have time for the gym - and you absolutely should - then you can focus on pure strength and speed/power so as not to worry about excess gains. You will reap the benefits with none of the costs.

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At the Nets with an Android Phone: Try HTC Zoe for Convenient Video Analysis

Here's a really simple trick to get a lot more out of your net practice without the worry of setting up a camera: HTC Zoe.

Zoe is an app that works on Google's Android system phones that takes 5 second video clips. It's a manual way to copy the automatic functionality of PV/ONE: You can capture video of batting and bowling just by hitting record. Then once you have the video, you can pick out high quality still images that get taken at the same time. From here you can really highlight any technical points.

You can then get to drilling out flaws, and being smug about your strengths.

Do You Make This "Time Machine" Mistake in Your Cricket?

I'm often accused of living in the past - maybe it's my 80's haircut - and I notice players doing the same thing at cricket matches. Even though it's not as far back as the 80's.

How does this mistake appear?


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: 328
Date: 2014-10-10