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WHy so many questions? I'll tell you why, because the answers will make you better at cricket! The newsletter asks and answers questions about reverse sweeping, your chances of becoming a cricketer, and what to do when your situation differs from your plan.

Plus, Mark Garaway steals a cracking tip from the world of strength and conditioning to improve batting technique. There's certainly no question about how excellent this email is.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Should You Reverse Sweep?

The reverse sweep; it's fun to play and is a well-established shot. Yet many still think it a high-risk funky shot that should be banished from the game. So should you play the reverse sweep?

I was at a coaching workshop recently where this question came up. I was fascinated by the answers from the coaches. There certainly was not total agreement, but the discussion revealed a great deal, and it will help you decide to use, rather than misuse, this controversial shot.

If you want to learn how to play the reverse sweep, I recommend this video from Ian Pont, but before you do, read on to find out if you should!

The benefits of the reverse sweep

Let's be honest, the reverse sweep is an exciting shot. Playing straight, we all agree, is a safe and necessary batting skill. Yet, the appeal of the reverse is strong. It's cheeky and it annoys your team mate when you do it in nets to his bowling.

And honestly, for most people that is as far as it goes. It's a bit of fun and worth a go. Maybe you even try it in a game at the death but you are not expecting much. There is a lot of value to this. It breaks up dull practice. It makes cricket fun.

But there are real benefits too. Otherwise we would not see the shot played in top level cricket:

  • Upsets a spinner's length.
  • Puts the ball into a gap when the field is set with no cover behind square on the off side.
  • Forcing the bowler to change field and make a gap elsewhere to exploit.
  • Allows you to score when you are tied down.

All these are fair reasons to play the shot.

The problem with the reverse sweep

Yet despite all these benefits, the reverse sweep is still a shot that carries a lot of risk. It's easy to miss the ball and be out bowled or LBW. When you consider that you can't use it very often and when you can it will mostly bring a single, do the benefits outweigh the costs?

In our discussion at the workshop, the general feeling was that younger players are not thinking much about the problems of the shot. They want to play it because they have seen it on TV, they want to have fun with it. When you ask "why" they might come up with some of the reasons above but never mention the problems.

The end result is a player uses "doing Twenty20 practice" as an excuse to have a go. And beyond tactical or technical reasons, this is the biggest problem with the shot.

To play or not to play?

For me, that is the key to deciding if the shot is one to use.

If you have decided that this is a shot that you can use a lot and has a role as a risky but effective tactic then you should play it. Although I would advise learning it properly rather than just having a go at the end of a net session.

If you are doing it off the cuff, ask yourself if there is a genuine reason to use it or you are making an excuse. Of course, there is a place to have a bit of fun, even in the most "serious" net session so maybe your reason is simply to relax a little and tease the bowlers.

Bear in mind the coach may frown on your choice, so make sure you have a discussion before hand. The worst choice you can make is decide to play it off the cuff with no forward thinking. That will waste your time and make your coach cross.

So, simply, be mindful and make a rational decision by thinking it through. Then you will be ready.

What about you, do you reverse sweep or is it banned?

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How to Become a Cricketer: What Are Your Chances?

How to Become A CricketerYou're desperate to become a cricketer.

You watch your heroes on TV and dream of playing alongside them. You play your heart out in matches and seek that chance to show your ability. You practice as much as you can, even training alone when there is no one else to train with you.


The trouble is that nagging question: Do you even have a chance or are you wasting your time with an impossible aim?

You know the raw facts already. Most people who play cricket never go on to even reach professional cricketer level. An even smaller number will ever reach international honours. You need to be a very good player to even get a chance. There are always more people wanting to play than there are places in professional Academies and on team rosters. Statistically you are fighting against the odds.

Yet there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

You have passion and desire.

You are prepared to do whatever it takes to reach the top. You are impervious to setbacks and you have youth on your side. With luck and squeezing out every ounce of talent you might just be able to join the cricketers who play professionally.Science has proven this is the cornerstone of success.

When it comes down to it, your goal is simple: The only way you are going to make it score runs or take wickets at your current level. From here you can work your way up through the levels through sheer weight of performance. Cricket may have its politics and complexities but no one can argue with heavy run scoring or wicket taking.

More than one chance

Often I get an email from cricketers like you asking for "just one chance" to become a cricketer. I understand this request. You want it badly. You know you are a good player and you just need to show it to someone who can open the door. The world is at your feet if you only get the chance to show what you can do.

The truth is that "one chance" is not how you become a professional cricketer.

Even the best players in the world did not make it by being ignored then suddenly springing out of obscurity to win the World Cup.

You need to get there through hard, deliberate practice and robust confidence. That combination feeds into on-field performances over a long period. You work hard, you take wickets and you score runs.

There are no shortcuts.

No one is playing cricket because they proved themselves once. It's a 10 year marathon that is strew with failures and dead ends. Success is not linear, it's a squiggle of ups and downs. Settle in for a long, often-frustrating journey.

People become cricketers through a story of hard work and overcoming setbacks.

If you want to become a cricketer then be realistic: Look at your age, your background, and your personality. Only then can you decide if you truly have a chance. The fact that you have read this all the way through is a great start. Now, you can take personal responsibility for what happens next and stop worrying about getting "one chance": You can make many chances.

Click here for more on one chance.

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What Alan's Core Training Advice Taught Me About Batting Technique

Alan Murdoch was our Strength and Conditioning Coach at Millfield school (he recently picked up a new job with Bath Rugby). He speaks my language, and I used some of his fitness advice to improve batting technique.

When one of the players came into The Bubble and really struggled with balanced at ball strike, the solution to the problem was simple.


We used the same language that Alan had used in strength training sessions to improve core stability in this lad and turn him from "wobbly-base boy" to an immovable unit in the gym over the space of just 12 months.

Alan's language was centred around:

  • stability (static and dynamic)
  • base
  • power production
  • precision

When Alan works with the players on core exercises like glute-bridging, tabletops or tripods, he asks the players to:

"say A, B, C, D, E in your head before moving on to the next hold".

So we did the same with the left handed batter. We got him to hold to pose in each post-contact base position for the count of "A-E" before finishing the shot in his bowling machine, throw downs or side arm sessions.

The results were instant and so positive. The left hander now looks more like Kumar Sangakkara striking the ball through the offside.

The player connected with the language and principles that sat behind the intention. The net result was that the movement from batting stance into the base position became more efficient. The width of the base increased, the body was able to unwind as a result of the increased stability which meant that the arms and hands worked in unison increasing the productivity of the contact point.

The technique looked completely different to the one that we had seen in the previous round. No technical input, just a shift in language that connected the player to a concept that he has mastered in another of his performance environments.

It's a very simple but great drill for any player whose balance and stability is compromising contact and control in front foot shots. It also is a great example of transferable language that helps to connect the gym environment to cricket performance.

There was a saying within Millfield Cricket a few years ago that hugely concerned me on my arrival into the school. I was told by anger coach that "In cricket, you don't have to be fit to be great".

So to Alan: Thank you for helping me eradicate that type of limiting belief from our culture for the huge physical gains that our players are demonstrating every time they have fitness tests in their respective County and International environments and for helping a couple of lads to reach new highs in their batting techniques.

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Get Creative: 5 Ways to Adapt to Poor Training Facilities

Have you ever thought about how often life doesn't go according to plan? It certainly has occurred to Darryl Woods.

Darryl is a coach who, like every one of us, has had times when training has been challenging. Things don't always go according to plan through no fault of the coach. It's in moments like this that you have to adapt. And if you are quick thinking you can claw victory from the jaws of defeat.

Recently I caught up with Darryl over Skype. In a wide-ranging chat about cricket at club, school and rep level we got to speaking about those moments where life gets difficult. I enjoyed some of the tips so much I asked if we could get them out to the wider world though this article. As you are reading this now, you know he agreed! So, here are some real life examples of how you can adapt.

Cricket Show S5 Episode 47: There's Nothing Wrong with a Short One

As Mark Garaway often tells David Hinchliffe and Sam Lavery, there's nothing wrong with a short one. And that's exactly what's happening with the show this week.


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: 337
Date: 2014-12-12