Pitchvision Academy


Not all cricket improvements are about technique. Sometimes you need to work on other things, and that's the focus in this newsletter. We examine setting team based targets, how to balance your training and simple formula for coaching success.

And for the technical geeks, there is a video to inject some technical tips into your brain.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

How "Team Targets" Improve Your Cricket (and Your Team Mates Too)

We all know how important setting targets is to cricket success, but most of us focus on individual aims and forget that teams can set targets too.

Setting 'team targets' is just as powerful in motivating players to do well because - like individual goal setting - a realistic and achievable target focuses the mind.

Cricket has teams within teams (batsmen get the runs, bowlers take the wickets, fielders help the bowlers) and working with your sub-team colleagues works better when you all have the same goal.

So what are team targets?

The easiest batting target is the score the opposition has set. Everyone can easily see how many you need to cross the line.

But even with this, you can break it down to something a bit more realistic.

Set the openers a target for the first 5 overs, and keep batting partners setting 5-10 over targets through the innings to keep the overall target in sight.

If you are batting first you can also set a "top 6 target". That is to say, the number of runs you want the batsmen in your team to score. This can help focus the mind and prevent the common assumption that "someone else will get the runs".

However, total targets can go horribly wrong. So be careful.

We call it "scoreboard pressure". If you feel you are behind the rate and don't know how to catch up you panic.  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?

You can do the same for singles and boundaries sored.

Ask yourself how 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.

However much you analyse, 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.

Bowling and fielding

One of my favourite rules of thumb in the 50 over matches I play is at the 30 over mark.

I know that usually, if the opposition need about 80 runs it's going to be a close finish. If we need 4 wickets we should bowl them out. So my target is to manipulate the opposition to be 6 down at the 30 over mark.

On a more short term basis, you can use team maidens. Here your bowlers attempt to bowl 12 dot balls in a row to put a lid on a scoring rate. Most club batsmen can't go more than a few balls without hitting out and making a mistake.

Fielders can support this by aiming to keep a "clean sheet" during the team maiden and preventing quick singles from releasing the pressure.

The key with team targets is to remember that within the bigger game, there are many smaller games going, and goals help you keep track of what is really happening much more closely than just looking at the overall runs and wickets column.

image credit: SarahCanterbury

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Follow This Simple Coaching Formula to Remove Weaknesses

Here is a simple coaching formula:

Admiration + Bags of bravery = More coaching knowledge

I don’t know about you, but I have a pretty good awareness of where my skill sets as a coach starts and finishes. I'm OK with some things and less confident or less experienced in others. I have yet to meet a coach who is a master of all the different disciplines and circumstances that the game of cricket can throw at us.

What I try to do is surround myself with people who can teach me something that I don’t already know or who will challenge me about things that I thought I knew….but clearly didn’t.

My newest coaching recruit into the cricket programme at Millfield School is none other than Alfonso Thomas, the Somerset, Adelaide Strikers, Pune Warriors, Western Province and South African Twenty20 fast bowler.

I'm really excited to work with Alfonso over the coming months and years. It will be an incredible opportunity to listen and watch one of the best bowlers in T20 history pass on his skills, knowledge and experience. When people talk about bowlers who can close a T20 and one day innings they speak of Lasith Malinga.

And Alfonso Thomas.

His skill at delivering yorkers, slower balls, slower ball bouncers and other fast bowling options in extreme pressure situations is legendary, not just in the UK but all round the cricketing world.

The questions that I have for Alfonso are:

  1. What made you want to learn to bowl the Yorker so well?
  2. What practices, drills and technical adaptations did you incorporate into your training to make you a world leader in delivering that toe crusher?
  3. How many slower balls have you got in your armoury?
  4. How did you develop them?
  5. What determines which slower ball is most useful in specific situations?
  6. How do you control your nerves, body, mind and therefore performance when you’re defending only 8 runs in the last over of a T20 game?
  7. What do you do when a top batter is taking you to the cleaners?
  8. What is your proudest performance under extreme pressure and what can young cricketers learn from that experience.
  9. How did you cope with niggles? What allowed you to bowl through the pain barrier during those long county and state seasons?
  10. Which captain got the best out of you and why?
  11. Tips on looking after the ball in both the shortest and longest format of the game. Has your approach or method changed over the years? How does it adapt between Kookaburra, SG ball and Duke?

Now, I appreciate that not all coaching programmes can access someone like Alfonso. Yet these are the types of questions that I ask top performers in all levels of cricket.

I have done this ever since I was a boy.

Between the ages of 9 and 17 I would bombard the “legends” that I watched at Ventnor Cricket Club as kid. I used to bother Malcolm Marshall with my incessant queries when I was a young professional cricketer and when I was 31; Duncan Fletcher was my target for all out question attack. Effectively, if I saw someone who was better than me (and goodness, I had a few options!) then I wanted to learn from their experience.

So here is my challenge to you.

How many opportunities do you miss each week to learn from other people’s experiences?

Make a list of the people in your immediate life that you look at and think “she does that really well” or “I wish I could do that like them”. Then pull together a list of simple questions like I have above for Alfonso.

Generally, people like talking about themselves and their achievements, not to be big headed but most people find it nice to be asked.

So grab a bag of bravery and ask away!

Become a better and more informed cricket coach or player as a result.

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Cricket Show S6 Episode 37: A Good Environment

Mark Garaway, Sam Lavery and David Hinchliffe are back together to talk cricket. This week the team have two examples of a successful team culture. Garas talks about the best team he ever worked with, and Lavers reflects on a cup win.


There are also two listener's questions. We find out if it's true about "leading with the head" into the front foot drive, and help a player who can't stop blocking himself off and falling away when he bowls spin.

Listen to the show for the details.

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!

Send in your questions via:

Or you can call and leave your question on the Academy voice mail:

  • +44 (0)203 239 7543
  • +61 (02) 8005 7925

How to Listen to the Show

Just click the "play" button at the top of the show notes.

Or, the show comes out every Friday and you can listen to it on your phone or tablet every week automatically. Simply choose your favourite podcast player and do a search for the show:

Or subscribe manually with the RSS feed. Right click here, copy the link and paste it into the appropriate place for adding new feeds in your podcast subscription software or RSS reader.

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.


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Make the Most of Nets by Balancing Technique with Other Skills

Judging by the volume of questions we get here at PitchVision, you love technique more than any other aspect of cricket. And you're right. Technique is crucial.

PV/ONE Drill: One to One Batting Coaching Video

Technology can easily be used for all levels of cricketer. Take a look at this video, where PitchVision was used with an occasional batsman to make almost instant improvements.

This video shows you don't need to be a talented, skilled cricket player to make improvements. Technology can work for you even if you have had no formal coaching before and play two pickup games a year.


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: 378
Date: 2015-09-24