Pitchvision Academy
Hi, This may be the greatest ever newsletter. I don't say that lightly, but have a look at the quality this week: Graham Gooch gives us a batting drill, Mark Garaway shows us how to make a difference in 10 seconds, Dan Helesfay improves bowling technique and we learn something new from a study about bat speed. What more can you want? Nothing is the answer! So dig in and enjoy this one's a belter. Have a great weekend,


This newsletter is mainly for the batsmen. There are drills and tips for everyone who weilds the flashing blade, from dealing with a collapse to new practice methods to push your run-getting through the roof.

Plus, there is a detailed guide to staying motivated in your cricket. At certain times of the year you'll need thiis, no matter how passionate you are.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Batting Tips: Score More Runs with Unfair Net Practice

Here's a problem: Batting is unfair, batting practice is too fair.

What do I mean?

The biggest frustration of batting is getting out. One mistake and it's over, even if it's the first ball you have faced of the season. Yet when we go to a net practice we all do 10-20 minutes no matter what happens and walk away satisfied that we got a good hit.

The problem, then, is when you practice you feel no pressure and when you bat in a game you feel all the pressure. There is a huge disconnect and your practice time is wasted. It leads to losing focus, playing poor shots and fewer runs.

The solution is simple: make practice unfair.


The exceptions

Before we get onto "planned unfairness", there are some exceptions. Sometimes, you need to bat for time regardless of pressure. These exceptions are,

  • Picking line and length
  • Shot selection
  • Shot execution
  • Fitness

However, all these require a little more effort than just saying "I'm working on my shot selection today".

The first three can be called broadly "technique" because they make up the three elements of batting; picking up the ball, choosing the right shot to play and playing that shot. With a bowling machine you are working more on the last one, with bowlers you are working more on the first two.

It's more a time element than a pressure element. Hit balls and try to pick up the line and length early. Face the machine or throwdowns to hone the movements and timing. Measure how you know when this is working by tracking your performance.

The same applies to cricket-specific fitness, where you run in nets - with drills like this - to replicate the challenge of playing a long innings. Time and effort aare more important than pressure.

Unfair batting practice drill

However, if your goal is to make batting practice realistic you have to have built-in unfairness. Here's a drill we did recently with a middle practice to show you what I mean.

In this session we had a full field so batsmen batted in pairs and two bowlers bowled in tandem from the same end. Everyone else fielded with all forms of dismissal allowed.

Each pair had no time limit, and four wickets. Once the last wicket was done, the pair were out for good. To make it tough for batting - and to encourage good strike rotation - pairs had to take at least one run every third ball.

What happened in the session was unfair,

  • Most pairs got about 15 minutes to bat but it depended on the bowling and the running!
  • One pair batted for much longer than usual.
  • One pair batted for a very short time.

The short batting was frustrating for one of the batsmen who watched his partner get out all four times, including being run out because he didn't run his bat in. He was clearly angry and called it unfair. I pointed out that the nature of the drill is to be unfair. He had agreed to play it. While I understand he felt he was not ready for his game on Saturday and this was his only practice, he eventually understood the whole point of the practice was to be unfair. It showed him something about his reaction to a situation very similar to getting out early to a bum LBW decision.

Naturally, doing this every week is counter-productive, but working on how you deal with pressure - and unfairness - is a crucial element in your quest to better batting. Make sure you are harsh on yourself sometimes if you want to be the best you can be.

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How to Bat During a Horrifying Innings Collapse

I know you don't like to think about it - nobody does - but there will be times where your innings has collapsed and you are at the crease. If you have the right approach, you can see this as your moment to shine.

Picture the scene in your mind: The let's say the score is 140-7 in 40 overs.

There are 10 to go and you are batting first. You know a winning score on this ground is close to 230. Numbers nine, 10 and 11 are all tail-enders who can hang about but are not going to score a match winning innings.

You have two options.


Option #1: Use up the overs

Tradition dictates that you bat all the way through to 50 overs.

There is no doubt that playing defensively, keeping the weaker batsman off strike and somehow getting through to the last ball has an influence on game results. According to ODI data - a reasonable place to extrapolate into non-professional cricket - you win one in five games that you bat first and are bowled out.

So, dig in and don't get bowled out.

How do you do this?

First, put the collapse out of your mind.

If you use the phrase "don't get bowled out" you go into your shell. You imagine the pitch and bowling must be unplayable and you dot up. This mentality is very common yet is known to be self-destructive.

Instead, think tactically about what you can do.

This will depend on the conditions and the opposition bowling, but as an experienced player you will be able to quickly spot where you can create some runs and where you need to play with caution. There is always a weaker fielder who can give a run away. You have rotation options. There are "team runs" that can be pre-planned.

A handy mantra to tell yourself here is to just bat.

It's not quite having a net, because in nets you get to play all your big shots and never worry about the nuances of strike rotation. However, you are playing each ball based on how you know you can play. Even number 11 can do that.

Option #2: Go for broke

A newer theory has emerged that gives you another option.

Hit out.

And, it turns out that this theory also has merit. Using a bit of statistical jiggery pokery we learn:

"The approach of maximising the length of the innings can be expected to yield a total in the range of 180-184; although there is, say, a 20% possibility that they will be bowled out, despite their best efforts, for 160-164.

"The long-handle method could take them to a healthier 210-214, accepting that about half the time they would swing and miss and fold for 150-154."

It's a bigger risk, but it has a better reward. Statistically speaking, it's slightly better. So how do you go for it?

First, it's important to remember you don't have to swing at every ball. 10 overs is still 60 balls and you can score 50 runs just with strike rotation if you get it right. The classic error is to try and rotate, face three dots and then swing from the laces in desperation. The long handle approach is not licence to do such a thing.

I recommend targeting the first ball of an over to play a big shot.

If it comes off, you can try rotation for the rest of the over and even if it goes wrong you have got four or six. Or, you can keep swinging and try and make it a huge over. Remember to keep your cool because the bowler might lose his head after a couple of boundaries and give you something easy to hit with no premeditation.

So, pick your target area and go for it.

Mindset is all important here. Imagine yourself as a calculating player, simply picking the best option of hitting a boundary. That way you resist the urge to go fully bonkers and swing hard with no plan at all. Even when you are going for broke, you need a method.

And if you need some technical tips on big hitting, click here.

Which option is better?

That is up to you to decide. You may be better at hitting boundaries than strike rotation. The pitch may favour the bowlers or the par score could be lower or higher than the examples given. Be flexible but practice both options so you can go either way based on the day.

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How to Use "Britain's Got Talent" to Boost Your Batting Talent

Here's a brilliant batting drill based on a TV show.

First the back story: I ran a session this week with four cricketers from school who haven't played a great deal over the summer holidays. One of the players in the session has made huge progress this year.

He has gone from being a member of the B team in 2014 into a key player for the A team in 2015. He is the type of player who scores vital runs when they are most required and catches anything that comes near him.

It was evident in the early days of working with Toby that the only thing that was stopping him was himself.

Toby was a perfectionist.

If he didn't do something perfectly then he would berate himself, strike his pad with his bat or occasionally would whack his stumps over. Over the season we worked hard on managing his frustrations and built realistic expectations around his batting and fielding. Soon, Toby was in charge of his emotions and his performances started to fly.

Toby hadn't played for a month and came into the practice on Tuesday cold. He was struggling to make good connections and his movements were rusty. His old behaviours started to reappear. Rather than tell him off I came up with a game based on Simon Cowell's 'Britains got Talent' show.

Got Talent drill

In that show each hopeful contestant performs their act in front of the judging panel. Each Judge has a button in front of them which is linked to a big Red Cross above their heads. When all crosses are lit, the contestant is shown the door.

Toby's judges were his team mates.

If a judge felt that Toby was displaying poor body language, berating himself or hitting his pad after a poor shot then they would cross their arms in an 'X'. If all 3 judges have their arms crossed then Toby loses a point.

He started with 3 points and I told Toby that his net session would finish when all 3 points are lost.

So what happened for the remainder of Toby's net?

Toby lost a point within 3 balls. He displayed some poor body language and all 3 judges were quick to make their crosses.

Then Toby started to manage his thoughts, his emotions and his behaviours even when he played a poor shot.

However, Toby was caught and bowled on ball #29 and hit himself on the pad with his bat. Another 3 crosses and Toby lost a second point.

Then Toby got back into his routines and batted for the rest of the session without losing his last point. Toby made better and better contacts as the session went on and started to dominate the bowlers who previously had him on toast.

Toby's talent was shining through because he was managing himself effectively.

If you are a perfectionist yourself (like me) or are coaching someone who is then the 'Britain's got Talent' game is a brilliant one.

The other players have fun being judges and the perfectionist opens up performance rather than slipping down their usual self-imploding slide.

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Cricket Show S6 Episode 33: Bouncebackability

"Bouncebackability" is not a word. The ability to come back after failure is a skill you want as a cricketer or coach. David Hinchliffe discusses his own woes with Mark Garaway and Sam Lavery.

Keep Fighting: A Cricketer's Guide to Motivation

It was the summer of 2009. My club side had romped to victory in the league.

I could not have had a more demotivating season.

In fact, I was more motivated a couple of seasons later when the same side finished dead bottom of the division and were on the opposite side of weekly drubbings.

I'm not crazy.

It's a common situation because motivation is about far more than how you do as a player or a team.

When you know this, you can make changes to stay motivated through the whole year, even when things are not going as planned.


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: 373
Date: 2015-08-21