Pitchvision Academy


It's a fun newsletter this week as we look at a range of cricketing aspects. Mark Garaway talks about coaching "inner drive" with the example of Ricky Ponting. Sam Lavery blindfolds some batsmen with unexpected results.

We also take a look at University cricket in the UK and find some interesting aspects that you may well be able to exploit. And we consider how to take your target setting to the next level of granularity.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Creating New Pontings: Coaching Inner Drive

Last week I introduced the 4 elements that define mental toughness. Today we move on to understanding and developing "Inner Drive".

Players scoring high on inner drive are completely self-motivated individuals in any given situation.

They are on a personal mission to do everything possible to fulfil their potential and find out just how good they can be. They will go the extra mile to ensure they have left no stone unturned in their pursuit of personal excellence. These players always strive to compete with their own taxing standards, as well as with other players and opponents.

Inner drive players will always look to learn from every situation. From a coach's perspective, inner drive players require no cajoling, no motivating and in terms of commitment to the cause, they will be leaders by example.

Ricky Ponting

Australia's ex-captain and legendary batter, Ricky Ponting, epitomised inner drive in everything he did. He was the definition of "leave no stone unturned" in his pursuit of his goals.

When I worked with Ricky at Somerset in 2004 he talked to me about his daily checklist of 10 questions that he would ask himself each night before playing a game of cricket. The points were very simple, very clear and included the following:

  • Having an appreciation of the pitch type that he was about to play on (conditions)
  • Knowledge of the opposition bowlers
  • Am I mentally ready to bat?
  • Has my technical preparation gone well?

If there was an unticked checklist point then it focused his mind the following morning. He would work on that particular point ahead of the days play. No Stone unturned.

The All Blacks

James Kerr's brilliant book, Legacy is all about the foundations that underpins the performance of professional sport's most successful team. In it he writes about the All Blacks sweeping the changing rooms, tidying up after themselves after each session and each match.

The All Blacks, despite being World Champions, have the inner drive and humility to undertake the most menial tasks.

"Sweeping the sheds. Doing it Properly. So no one else has to. Because no one looks after the All Blacks. The All Blacks look after themselves" James Kerr – Legacy: 15 Lessons in Leadership

This example of Inner Drive is one piece in the jigsaw that sees the All Blacks consistently pull out match winning performances in the dying minutes of matches.

The All Blacks win 86% of their matches.

Develop responsibility in others to fast track inner drive

The examples above show how the individual or the culture can develop their own inner drive. We as coaches and team mates help accelerate this process.

  1. Encourage players to have performance diaries to log their successes and analyse their failures so that they learn for the next similar opportunity that comes along.
  2. Encourage players to "sweep the changing rooms, net area, gym" and be respectful of your environment and the people around you.
  3. Create leadership opportunities for many. Not just the captain
    • Ask someone different to lead a warm up, review a practice session, design a different fielding drill, shine the ball, run a gym session
    • The experience will help the player to see the link between responsibility and inner drive. It will help them to see how being deeply involved in a “no stone unturned” approach can develop performance for an individual and a team.
  4. Measure performance: Beat your personal best, beat your team mate, beat the opposition.

As a coach or captain, we have a wonderful opportunity to develop mental toughness in the people around us. It's a skill that is more transferable into other facets of life than a straight drive or leg cutter, so it's got to be worth developing.

Discuss this article with other subscribers

Simple Target Setting for Cricket Teams

We know the importance of targets in winning games of cricket these days. Breaking things down to make them feel easier is a proven step to success. So, what are some good targets to set for teams?

I'd like to get your feedback on what you feel has worked for you in the past, so please leave a comment below. Here are some of may favourite targets and some of the pitfalls of relying too much on them.

Let's start with route one. Everyone walks to the middle before the game, examines the track and decides a good total. That's the most basic of team targets, but you can be suprised how effective it can be when you know your team well.

Get granular with the basics

The trick is making it something that is usable in the middle.

This means breaking it down further. A total of 200 in 50 overs is good at my level but no one goes along at exactly four an over from the first to the last. We look to score 100 in the first 30 overs and 100 in the last 20 to make it more realistic that rates accelerate through the innings.

This works equally for when you are in the field. Clearly the target is 10 wickets, but we tend to find that taking six in the first 30 overs will be dead on for victory. Five and it's going to be a close shave. You'll need to do the maths for your format, and adjust for opposition strength and conditions, but you get my point.

However, total targets can go horribly wrong. The sages call it "scoreboard pressure" and the sages are right. If you feel you are behind the rate and don't know how to catch up you can start going crazy. Not everyone is born to finish an innings, but a lot of people are born to panic. It's important you get good at setting a target for your level and your team. A 50 over match can easily see a variation of 200 runs depending on the quality of players, the pitch and the conditions.

Geek out on the numbers

So, it's helpful to go over some old scores and see how your team does. You can look at batting averages and likeliness of scoring a 50 or taking 5 wickets of individual players to build a picture of what might happen with any given team. If you want to get super granular, you can break it down to game phases even more. How does the reliable slow-scoring opening pair getting 20 in the first 12 overs influence the overall total compared to going out with pinch hitters who leave you on 60-3 in the same time frame?

Analysis like this also helps you to further breakdown big targets to very granular elements.

  • How many singles do you score in an innings? How many do you concede?
  • What is your scoring ball percentage?
  • How many times does the bowler go past the bat?

Most importantly, how do these elements influence the results of your games. If you see a trend, target that area in as small and reachable steps as you can manage, and let the result look after itself.

Geek out over the number as much as you like, it will all help add to that estimate and give you a better feel for what you need to do to win. However, please don't forget the idea here is to produce something simple that players don't have to worry about in the middle. Keep your elaborate spreadsheet at home and go to the game with some easy targets like "100 in the first 30". Leave scope for variations like the opposition bringing in a star bowler, an bad pitch or your best batsman getting injured in the warm up. Reset where needed and get on with it.

What are your simple team targets? Do you stick to overall totals or do you get granular? Leave a comment below and let me know.

Discuss this article with other subscribers

Can You Exploit this Loophole to Get a World-Class Cricket Education?

What do you if you are desperate to get into professional cricket but also need an education?

That's the dilemma of millions of young cricketers around the world, especially if you are from India, where the pressure from parents to get a trade as an engineer or business manager are as strong as the passion for the game. It's a regular question sent in here to PitchVision Academy; how do I choose?

What if you didn't have to choose at at all?


I recently discovered an unused loophole for young people to get closer to their dreams of cricket without giving up an education: British University cricket. And yes, it even applies to players in India, Australia and any other corner of the world. It's not just for the English.

Playing cricket in England

The realisation that there is a gap for Indian players to exploit came about during my recent visit to Matt Thompson and the squad at Cardiff Met University. We were discussing the huge growth in overseas students into the University in general; a trend that is the same across the UK. Then Matt dropped a bombshell.

"So, how many more overseas students are in the squad this year?", I asked.

"That's the strange thing," he confessed "We had our trials recently and 120 people turned up. 5 were overseas students and none were good enough to get into the squad."

It hit me right then.

Here we are at PitchVision Academy getting daily emails and messages from talented cricketers who would do anything to play. I know many of the same boys have parents who are equally keen for them to get a high class education. There is Matt at University level - a level that is designed to accommodate the twin demands of cricket and degree education - wondering where all the Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi cricketers are.

Something is going wrong.

Is University cricket good?

Perhaps it's a marketing issue. University cricket is not seen as serious by the rest of the world. It's a way to relax when lectures are done. There is no way it's going to give you the chance to be a cricketer.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

First, there are many Universities that feed into the MCCU system. The MCCU (formerly UCCE) is the high performance branch of the University system and competes at County Academy level. Oxford and Cambridge are MCCU and also have first-class status. While the others are not first-class, they are of a similar standard. In short, this is a breeding ground for professional cricket.

Second, even at the level below (BUCS) the game is taken seriously. Take Cardiff Met who have a full programme of men's and women's cricket lead by a Director of Coaching. After spending time with Matt at a couple of coaching sessions I quickly realised the quality of the coaching was as good as it gets outside the professional game. With a squad of over 30 competing for places and the chance to progress to Cardiff MCCU, this is no sideline, this is serious cricket.

Get a chance with this loophole

Normally this level of coaching and competition is reserved for County Academy level, but overseas players can't get in there without qualifying for England.

However, anyone can play University cricket as long as you are a student.

That's a huge loophole that can be exploited.

Imagine you are a young man in India who wants his chance to play. Maybe you don't need to imagine, it's happening to you right now. Imagine your parents are pressuring you to become an engineer. Maybe you don't need to imagine that either. For many reading this, the situation is all too familiar.

So, you work hard at your studies and you decide to continue your education overseas. You also work hard at your cricket and decide to pick a University in the UK that feeds into an MCCU programme. This is your chance to show the world that you can play.

And, on the off chance your parents were right all along, if you don't make it you have a high quality degree at the end of your three or more years in England. Congratulations, you're a success either way.

Of course, we can't forget that a British University education is expensive. For that reason alone many cricketers can't use the option. Yet, there are more and more people arriving in the UK specifically to gain a prestigious degree. For some, perhaps you, the money is available and the quality of learning is worthwhile.

If it's an option for you, take it and exploit the loophole.

Discuss this article with other subscribers

The Surprising Lessons Learned From This Crazy Batting Experiment

When you strive for the edge you hear a lot of new ideas. "Sensory development" is one of these ideas. On the PitchVision Academy Cricket Show we often ask questions like, "Does eye training really work, or is it a myth?" and "Can we improve our communication methods by removing our auditory systems?"

All very good questions, but when I tested them, in a series of training sessions recently, I wasn't interested in answering any of these questions.

What was I doing?

Why getting dropped will make you a better cricketer

It could be going from representative level back to grade cricket or simply being selected for the 2nd XI. For some players getting dropped is a cricketing disaster. It's a dramatic demonstration that they are not up to the task.


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: 333
Date: 2014-11-14