Pitchvision Academy


One of the hardest problems to solve as a bowler is if your length is inconsistent. To many four balls results in a lot of head scratching at nets. So, this week we take a deep dive in how to correct this frustrating issue, from both a technical and psychological angle. There is bound to be a fix for you.

Plus, Mark Garaway compares airlines to fielding and comes up with a superb tip. Iain Brunnschweiler helps the 'keepers with leg side takes, and there is a discussion on the need for helmets these days. Be sure and post your opinions.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

How to Bowl A Consistent Length

One of the hardest problems to solve as a bowler is if your length is inconsistent. To many four balls results in a lot of head scratching at nets.

That's because unlike a poor line, there is not an immediate cricket technical reason for the problem. It's more vague because it's about very subtle differences: release point, repeatability of positions and fatigue.

Things that take more investigation than saying "well, it's obvious because..." from your cricket coach.

How do you go about fixing it?

Here are some drills you can try to see what happens when you start to lose your bowling length.

Look for the problem

Your first step in the journey is to film yourself at a session bowling normally. You don't need a fancy camera, your phone will do fine. This will allow you to review the footage later and look for the problem.

Using PitchVision, compare the balls you bowled that were too full to the too short balls and the good length balls.

Don't worry if you don't have a system, you can use your eyes too. It's a little less convenient but it's worth the effort.

Then ask yourself, "what's different?"

Chances are you will see something at one of the Four Tent Pegs that differs between the right length and the wrong length balls. This takes a good bit of playing, pausing, scrubbing and looking like a hawk until you spot what it is that changes.

Some reasons for poor length

So what might these things be?

Everyone is different, but there is a fair chance one of the following apply to you:

  • You are "falling away". When you release the ball, your head is not over your front leg and your arm is over your non-bowling hip (see the image below).
  • You have a lot of "non-mission critical" movement. This could be anything from wobbling your head to waving your arms around. The more unnecessary movement, the greater chance of a different action between balls. More noise, less signal.
  • You focus on the wrong place. Where do you look when you bowl? Does this change sometimes and what is the result?
  • You are either not warmed up sufficiently, or too fatigued. You can see this by a change in accuracy over a session.

Example of "falling away" in a fast bowler (blue line is optimal location for bowling arm)

And the big one:

You don't know how a good ball feels.

This is most important because it involves the actual moment you release the ball.

Simply, if you let the ball go too early it will be fuller, and if you let the ball go too late it will be shorter. But there is more to it than that.

Your moment of release depends on everything that has happened up to that point from the start of your run. In other words, the whole action. Any misfire in your timing of jump, landing, core firing, hip drive, and shoulder rotation will also change when the ball is released.

In short, look at when you release last of all, once you are sure everything else is in order.

Get back to good bowling

Don't leave it there though, also take the time to examine what a good ball looks like. Your action might not be technical perfection, but it can produce a good ball. You have it on video. So, use that as your template.

Once you have spotted the difference between the template and the off balls, you can start to eliminate it.

This might be in the form of drills.

Here's one for "falling away" that will help.

It might mean a better fitness regime if you see your accuracy take a long time to get right and fall away quickly.

Or, it might be the most difficult one of all; learning the "feel" of the right moment to release the ball.

Old pro bowlers have lots of tips for this one. For example, feeling the ball roll up your fingers so the tip is the last thing to touch the ball as it comes comes out. Frankly, there is no general advice that works for everyone because these are highly personal. You need to understand your own cues, so work on trying to describe how it feels when it's right and tell yourself that at the top of your mark.

I know that's not as simple as a drill, or as clear as a 90mph away swinger on a length, but sometimes all we have is how it feels. It might be complex to get into your head, but once it's in there, it could not be simpler or easier. That's why it's so hard, because when you "get it" you wonder how anyone else could not get it!


  • Compare your good balls to your bad balls and find the cause.
  • Work on the flaws; technical and physical
  • Learn how it feels to bowl a good length, and give yourself a cue that works to get you back there.

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How to Use Airlines to Improve Outfielding

A mate of mine used to fly for one of the budget airlines. He let me into a secret about their landing strategies; they come in very steep in their descent and land heavy, often bouncing a little on the runway before all the wheels are rolling smoothly on the tarmac. The reason, so he claims, is to save fuel. Less time in the air equals less fuel burned.


Many other - premier- airlines companies land with a shallower descent which starts earlier and lands softer.

I often use the "premier or budget" airline analogy when working with fielders around their approach to the ball and their throwing technique.

Budget airline fielding

Many fielders run into the ball, especially when coming in off the boundary rope and end up getting down to the ball late. The reaction of coming in late and steep is that the body has to bounce up during or post pick up.

If you bounce up prior or during pick up then you risk the ball hitting the wrong part of the hand and cannoning out of your grasp. Or missing the ball all together.

If you bounce up slightly after pick up then most of your energy in your body is lost out of the top of the head rather than being driven towards your target and through the back of the ball.

Premier airline fielding

Matthew Hayden was the best Premier airline deep fielder I have seen. Hayden used to approach the ball in a low body posture and scoop the ball up cleanly with lots of flexion in his legs throughout the approach and pick up.

He used to the take a large drive step in a low fashion which drives his weight, momentum and energy towards his eventual target. Then comes a long delivery stride, similar to that of a fast bowler, which helps to kick start the kinetic chain from ground to ball release.

Once this mass of energy has released the ball, he steps forward and begins to put the brakes on in his follow through. His initial follow through step almost throws him off of his feet. The subsequent steps are there to regain balance.

Hayden's movement looked more like a Baseball outfielder than a conventional deep fielder and has since caught on with other elite cricketers around the world.

Premier fielding drills

So what language and drills can we put around fielders to encourage this kind of associated movement throwing action?

"Imagine that you are entering a low tunnel as you approach the ball. The tunnels continues until you near release. Drive low until you release the ball. Your aim is to keep your head from banging on the tunnel roof"

Side on footage of their previous throws compared with the tunnel throws are telling. Repetition of this has proven to overlay good habit on top of good habit.

The other thing that we do is get some intervention poles lined up as the tunnel. We then mark the height of the "tunnel" for that the specific fielder with a thick elastic band on each pole facing the camera. We can then track the movements and throw itself on the video and have the elastic band markers to calibrate against.

It's a great drill, good use of markers, fantastic with video next to it and achieves results.

This will take your long throws into the "Premier Airline" category in no time.

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Use One of These Methods to Get More Leg Side Stumpings

This is a guest article from Iain Brunnschweiler.

There is more than one way to perform a high-class leg side take. Which method works best for you?


Recently, I have been working with some talented wicketkeepers. The more time I spent with them, the more I noticed these guys were highly effective at leg side takes standing up to the wicket.

I also noticed that they do it differently.

In fact, there are two distinct methods for leg side takes. When you work out which one is "yours" you will improve your leg side work dramatically.

So, give both a try and it wont be long before you are doing the right thing for your needs, and boosting your keeping.

  1. Hands first. Set up as normal, but when the ball goes down the leg side, keep your head and feet on the off side while moving your hands to the leg side.
  2. Whole body. Again, set up as normal, only now when you go to the leg side move your hands and feet together.

Some principles remain the same for both; watch the ball, come up with the bounce, and move as late as possible with haste.

So, which are you: Hands first or whole body?

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Cricket Show S6 Episode 41: Lessons from the Legends

Gooch, Shewag and Zaheer all get a mention on the show as the team discuss lessons from the legends (two of whom have retired this week). Mark Garaway, David Hinchliffe and Sam Lavery continue the discussion into listener's questions. The show features two questions; one from a spinner who wants to bowl faster and another from a tape ball player who wants to make the move into hard ball cricket.

Plus, there is the usual chance to win the prize of online coaching, a 60 second burst of coaching from Sam Lavery and three questions that can only be answered "yes" or "no". It's packed from start to finish and not to be missed. Download it now.

Should Cricketers Wear Helmets to Bat?

Should you wear a helmet to bat?


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: 382
Date: 2015-10-23