Pitchvision Academy


In the newsletter this week, Mark Garaway looks ahead to England's winter tours and picks out some things you can do with your team. There is also a dragon slaying, six batting shortcuts and a simple way to help wicketkeepers.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Revealed: The Secret of How to Bowl Fast

Research into fast bowling has revealed two simple changes to your action goes 50% of the way to top bowling speed.

Forget about "hip drive", "chest drive" and "pulling your non-bowling arm in": It's all about the feet and legs at the crease. This simple knowledge, which so far has been ignored by coaches, can be turned to your advantage.

You see, coaches sometimes forget that our world is ruled by the laws of physics. As a result, we have simply guessed why some bowlers are quicker than others without any physics to back up their assertions. It becomes pot luck if a bowler can deliver at pace. This situation is unique to cricket: no other sport has such a lack of understanding of the physical principles which govern their discipline. 

Until now.

Because I'm going to show you the results of my extensive research into the physics of throwing and the anatomy of the human body. Fast bowling should be surprisingly simple and can be taught to anyone who has the dedication to stick at it.

What has physics got to do with fast bowling?

There are three concepts that govern fast bowling. Good technique allows you to successfully perform all three in the correct order. The good news is that good technique is very easy to understand.

First let's look at the three concepts:
  1. The generation of 'kinetic energy' in the run-up. In a human body, kinetic energy (think of it as movement energy) arises from the contraction or shortening of muscles. These muscles are fuelled by chemical energy stored in the body.
  2. The stretching of elastic tissue prior to delivery. Like an elastic band, the muscles store 'elastic' potential energy. This stored energy allows the muscles to return explosively to their original length. Correct technique will allow us to use these stretched tissues to speed up our bowling
  3. The efficient transfer of energy to the ball. An efficient bowler uses the kinetic energy generated from his run-up and transfers it to the ball by using correct technique. This is ultimately an issue of controlling the energy to take it where it is wanted; in other words, the ball.

These points form the backbone of good bowling: We must run in to create kinetic energy, move our body in such a way as to put our muscles on stretch and then allow that kinetic energy to be transferred from our legs to the ball. There are two things to note about these points:

  • Each leads naturally onto the next.
  • Poor execution of one will dramatically affect your ability to perform the next.

For example, many club bowlers run in fast but cannot transfer the kinetic energy they have generated to the ball. Many club bowlers also fail to put their muscles on stretch. This means they are not bowling as fast as they could.

Use your legs to bowl faster

What gels the three elements together to make the complete product is a combination of technique, power and flexibility. Although equally important, today we will look at two simple technical points.

Here is what the legs must do.

After the bound, the back leg should land and bend at the knee. This allows you to conserve your run-in energy through the back-leg landing. Imagine that the cricket field is a scale; your back foot landing should make the reading on the scale as small as possible. It looks like this:

On the other hand, the front leg must be as straight as possible. This action stops a huge proportion of the straight line speed of the bowler, but by the 'conservation of energy', this kinetic energy is transferred to the upper body.That looks something like this:

'Conservation of energy' is simply the idea that energy will stay constant. For example when two balls hit each, energy is transferred from one ball to the other, but the total energy of both the balls stays constant. As a fast bowler you are keeping your front leg straight to transfer the energy from your legs to your upper body (and eventually the ball).

By doing this with your legs, you set yourself up to bowl ridiculously fast.

We are not going to "push off" our back leg onto the front leg. The reason is that pushing off requires you to register that you’ve pushed off. By the time your brain has told you that you’ve pushed off, it’s already too late: you’ve lost your run-in energy.

All we want to do on back foot landing is to allow our energy to keep on travelling towards the batsman until our front foot lands. We then want to decelerate as rapidly as possible, which is achieved by the braced front leg.

Want proof?

Watch a long jumper. They don’t push off the board; they just allow their run-in energy to propel themselves through the air.

By positioning your legs in this way you won't want to follow through much at all. If you feel like you have to follow through right down the pitch, it is clear that you are not transferring run-in energy to your upper body very well. In other words, you need to practise keeping your front leg straighter.

While much of bowling is an art, there is definitely a very important place for science in cricket. I hope that with time, we will all be able to improve the quality of the cricket we play by accepting a little bit of physics into our lives.

This article was a guest post from Tom Matcham, Mathematics student at Imperial College, London with a keen interest in Biomechanics and Sports Science.

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How Much Practice Does It Really Take to Become a Cricketer?

Go to nets, do your drills and play cricket. These are the steps to improving your skills. But how much time does it really take to make it as a cricketer?

One answer looked at in the last 10 years is 10,000 hours: A number plucked off the back of a study into top class violists, and popularised by authors like Malcolm Gladwell and Geoff Colvin. The idea has since been expanded to cricket. People have stated that simply training every day for 10 years will take you to of the cricket tree.

Hard work, yes, but you know what you need to do. It's been proven by science.

I got 10,000 problems

Except, in recent times, the headline of "10,000 hours" has demotivating to people who play club and school cricket. Most of us can't dedicate so much time to the game. If you train, on average, four hours a month, mastery will take 208 years!


You might argue that this is good because only the most talented and dedicated will rise to the highest ranks. That said, 10,000 hour idea is not helpful to you if you are just trying to get a few runs for your club 2nd XI.

If you can't dedicate 20 hours a week to training, should you abandon the idea of improving your game?

Do some motivational maths

Of course, we know instinctively that you can get better in much less time - and with much less work - than the 10,000 hour rule allows.

Some people can become masters in half the time, while other need much longer. But even then, we are not talking about becoming world-class. We are talking about being good at your current level. Maybe you will be world-class someday, but today is not that day and you need to take a step forward no matter what your ultimate goal.

So what is that number?

5,000 hours?




But let's talk about the 10 hour rule.

You may not have heard it before - because I just made it up - but it's a far easier number to manage. You'll still improve in 10 hours. You'll still notice the difference in 10 hours. Most of all, you can commit to 10 hours much easier than you can to a great big number.

And if you add up enough 10 hour blocks, guess where you end up? Mastery.

So what does 10 hours look like?

  • For the average club batsman having a 15 minute net, that's 40 sessions. Although the number drops if you can have longer. Yes, it's still a lot if you only train once a week, but even then you can improve significantly in less than a year.
  • For the average club bowler, bowling in nets for an hour a week will get you better in less than three months.

At the end of your 10 hours, assess your improvements. I'm willing to bet you have got better simply by putting in regular, focused practice. You can just start on another 10.

Use the right training

Even through the 10 hour rule is a lot better for self-motivation, there are some parts of the 10,000 hour rule you could take to every practice to get better.

You see, many studies have show that we improve when we practice in a certain way:

  1. Set up a practice with a specific goal
  2. Get instant feedback on your success or failure
  3. Make an adjustment and try again

For example, bowler's working on accuracy can do target practice. Batsmen working on hitting the gaps can do their own version of target practice.

You can also set up drills and technical work with the same idea in mind.

If you are following the 10 hour rule, every session can have these elements to accelerate your learning. SOme people do this naturally, while others need to be a bit more mindful. Yet, it works for everyone.

Don't forget the grit

Finally, one thing we forget about when thinking about practice is motivation. Yet motivation is one of the most important parts of the puzzle.

When you are dreaming of becoming a cricketer you believe you will practice every day. In reality, most people don't practice every week, let alone every day. At my current club, no one has attended every summer training session. If you had been to every one, you would have clocked 20 hours with the ball and 10 hours with the bat. And you would be much better come September.

While life gets in the way sometimes and we can't train. You can't dodge the numbers. So, the more grit you have to get to practice even when its tough, the better you will get. It's a pure numbers game.

Make sure you are monitoring your motivation and telling yourself the right story.

Of course, changing the 10,000 hour rule to the 10 hour rule is a trick that helps, but the reality is that you need to train a lot to become a cricketer. And that's where grit will save you from yourself.


  • The common "rule" for mastery is 10,000 hour of practice.
  • It's much easier to get better at cricket in much less time.
  • To do so, set realistic targets for training time.
  • Train using a feedback loop to improve fast.
  • Whatever your goal and plan, find a way to stay motivated to stick to it.

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Tactics You Should Be Using: Bowl at the Stumps

Does it seem a bit old fashioned to say "pitch it up, hit the stumps"?

In these days of slower ball bouncers, enforcers and bowling dry outside off stump you might think so. Actually, it's still an effective way to bowl in most situations.

Swing bowler on a slow English pitch in May? Yes.

Spinner on a Bunsen burner? Absolutely.

Fast bowler on a flat deck? Without doubt.


It's harder to score with no width. It's also mostly played straight. With good fielders at mid on, mid off, extra cover and midwicket you have a powerful defence. Sometimes, that's all you need to take wickets.

When you want wickets through aggressive bowling, you keep bowled and LBW up for grabs even if your main form of dismissal is something else.

Even at the death - when bowling length has become a cardinal sin - you can bowl straight and still cause problems to batsmen swinging hard.

Of course, you have other options. Batsman have different styles and weaknesses. Sometimes match situations demand you change your line and length. You have to be adaptable. Yet, most of the time hitting the stumps is the simplest way to achieve your aim.

When I was growing up in club cricket, two phrases were often uttered,

"You miss, I hit"

"A straight ball is a happy ball"

These are clichés, but they are clichés precisely because they are true.

And it's so easy to measure.

You can simply make sure you are bowling on PitchVision in practice (or other notational system). Keep track of how often the ball would have hit the stumps.

You'll be surprised how many times you miss. In this case study, my club's bowlers managed just 15% on the line of the stumps; and we thought they were accurate!.

Over time, and with focus your numbers will improve far more quickly than running up and wanging it in the general direction of the other end.

So ask yourself, are you hitting the stumps enough?

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What the Ashes Taught Us about Playing Swing and Seam Bowling

2015 was a very odd Ashes. When the ball swung significantly England won. When the ball didn't swing for long periods Australia compiled heavy first innings scores and won as a result of scoreboard pressure.

Only 6 batters (Root, Rogers, Warner, Smith, Cook and Ali) averaged over 30 in the series. Cook and Rogers are Test match specialists, Warner adapted his method during the series, Smith and Root swapped over as World number one batters and there is a good chance that England's number 8 in this series will open the batting in the next one!

Other than these players, there were a lot of "walking wickets" on show in the series. Especially when either side got the ball to move laterally. As coaches, we have a huge role to play in the development of cricketers who have the skills to cope with balls that swerve in and out and also deck off of the pitch.

This comes in the technical wisdom that we impart on the players and also in the way that we expose the batters to tough conditions and to swinging balls.

Technically, when the ball swings, the feet have a tendency not to move.

Jos Buttler showed this in the last couple of test matches. His only method was to try and save himself with his excellent hand to eye coordination. But even that wasn't enough in tough batting conditions.

So what could Jos do to prepare himself for lateral moving conditions in the future?

3 Batting Technique Myths You Can Stop Worrying About

Everyone's a cricket coach.

Or so it seems these days. Advice comes from every angle; coaches, family members, the internet and even passers-by calling out. That would be great if it all matched up, but most of the time it is in direct conflict with another piece of advice.

Then there are the myths and clichés on top. The advice that sounds good, and makes the advisor sound wise and clever. In fact, it's based in no more evidence than it was overheard on TV. So it must be true for everyone, right?

It's enough to make you go back to bed instead of picking up the bat and dealing with the swirl of advice in your head.

So, here is some clarity for you: Three simple bits of advice we have all heard (or perhaps even given) that don't make as much sense as they seem. Once you know that these things are not always true, you can get on with getting back to the simplicity of hitting the ball with a clear mind and a confident outlook.


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: 374
Date: 2015-08-28