Pitchvision Academy


You can really take a deep dive into the newsletter this week. There is a detailed report on a PitchVision case study featuring eight cricketers determined to improve. There is a series of drills and techniques for improving your throwing skills. There is Iain Brunnschweiler with England in Sri Lanka. There is a method for developing mental strength on the field. There is tonnes of cricket!

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Cricket Coaching Case Study: How Eight Players Improved in the Off Season

Over the last 10 weeks, eight cricketers have been conducting an experiment in improving their cricket. Today, I want to give you the results of that hard work.

This is both a story and an evidence-based piece of research. There are lessons to be learned about every aspect of cricket coaching; how to improve, how long it takes to see changes, how to manage unexpected situations, dealing with people and dealing with your own mental game. There's a tale here for you that has taken well over 30 hours to construct.


So, let's start the journey.

Why a case study?

We did it for several reasons.

First, we wanted to show you with real evidence the power of PitchVision at any level of cricket. We couldn't have produced this research without a way of tracking the results, and PitchVision provided data in dozens of measurable areas. Yet, it's useable by amateur players who can only train in their spare time.

Second, we had a group of players hungry for success. The eight club players from McCrea FS West of Scotland were devastated to be relegated last summer, and wanted to push their games forward as quickly as possible to be ready for a tough promotion fight. This was made easier by the club owning it's own indoor facility for use in any weather.

Finally, a case study focused the mind. It provided a clear start and end point for the players and the coach. The players all knew their performance would be on show to the world. Here is that show.

What was the set up?

The study was undertaken over nine sessions (10 weeks) between October and December 2015. Eight cricketers participated in the sessions, lasting two hours. Every session,

  • Was held at a venue with two indoor net lanes
  • Was run by one coach
  • Used PitchVision in one lane
  • Had the usual cricket equipment available (balls, stumps, bats, protective gear)
  • Was run to a pre-agreed session plan. Every session had batting and bowling. Some sessions had catching and fitness-focused training.

Other equipment used during the sessions were Katchet ramps, incrediballs, weighted balls, dumbbells, resistance bands and a medicine ball, but these were not directly part of the study. A bowling machine was also used for some sessions.

Who took part?

The eight players who took part were aged 14-28. All are club players and range in experience from 3rd XI to semi-professional level. The only skill requirement was they could "hold their own" in every session without fear of mixing skill levels too much. The players were:

  • A: Fast bowler with ambitions to bat higher in the order, 1st XI with full representative honours.
  • B: Medium pace all rounder, 1st XI.
  • C: Leg spinner, 1st/2nd XI.
  • D: 18 year old batsman with ambitions to bowl off spin. 1st XI with age group representative honours.
  • E: Batsman, 1st/2nd XI.
  • F: 14 year old leg spin all-rounder. 3rd XI With age group representative honours.
  • G: Batsman who bowls leg spin. 2nd XI.
  • H: Fast bowler, 1st XI.

So, with three seamers, four spinners and six top order batsman, there was a good mix of skills.

It was a requirement for each player to have a pre-course meeting with the coach to set up their goals for the case study. Everyone had a different set of goals to try and meet. Every player was also asked to commit to attending every session, and have a post-course review of goals.


Now here is the juicy part: What really happened?

We tracked a lot of data over the sessions, and came up with the following performance indicators:

  • Volume: Balls bowled and balls faced
  • Bowling accuracy
  • Bowling pace
  • Spin bowler deviation (turn)

Additionally, we ran a competition to see who could bowl the fastest ball on a good length, who was most accurate in a single session and who bowled/faced the most balls in a single session.


This is balls faced plus balls bowled on PitchVision. This was tracked because - in very basic terms - the more you bat and bowl, the better you get. This is always within the context of deliberate practice, which was employed for every player during the study.

"E" faced most balls in a single session (114) and "C" had an epic single session bowling 116 balls of leg spin in one go.

Bowling Accuracy

To give these figures some context, "accuracy" is the number of times you bowl a ball that lands in the defined target zone on the PitchVision mat. The benefits of hitting the right spot are obvious and as old as cricket; landing on a sixpence.

So, while the ideal is 100%, in reality, the highest ever on PitchVision anywhere in the world is 70% (one person), with only six people over 60%. So a realistic good result is 40%+.

Additionally, as several player were making changes to their bowling action, a lower overall % is to be expected.

Other factors that can't be shown in an accuracy percentage are:

  • The size of the target zone (for example, "D" has set a very small target area, "F" was much larger).
  • Pitch conditions (different pace pitches require different areas).
  • Batsman response (you might bowl a good length ball and be hit for four or get the batsman to nick off).
  • Luck (You might have a full toss hit straight to mid off).
  • What the ball does before pitching (dip, drift, swing) and after pitching (turn, cut and seam).

With all these things in mind, it's important to remember that while more control is always better, being able to respond to different situations is a skill you can't measure.So these numbers provide both a benchmark, and a way to bowl indoors in the same way as you intend to bowl outdoors:

  • We can set the target for an outdoor length (fuller than the indoor school) and you can get better at hitting it. 
  • You can view your success not by the batsman's response (for example if someone is slogging) but by the place on the pitch you hit.
  • You can aim to improve your accuracy through deliberate practice (that is to say, bowling a ball, seeing where it lands, then bowling again)
  • You can view your accuracy in a wider context rather than trying to remember good days and bad days.

Bowling Pace

Pace was measured using PitchVision. Bowlers had short run ups and no spikes (as indoors) Nevertheless, it was an excellent result to see "A" achieve an average of 71.93mph (115kph), topping out at 84.69mph (136mph). This is quick for club cricket. "H" is also a good club pace, averaging 65mph (104kph) with some balls over 70mph (112kph). 

A success story in this category is "D" who decided to seriously take up off spin this year and has added 3mph to his average pace over the winter.


Turn, or in PV terms "deviation" is simple the amount the ball turned on hitting the PitchVision mat. It's measured in degrees and, for club players, is ideal between 2-4.

PitchVision provides a consistent measurement for individuals to work towards improving. It's important not to get hung up on this figure alone as pitches turn more and less through the season, and dip/drift isn't measured. However, it provides a rough yet consistent benchmark for the spinners that is better than pace alone.

What do these results mean?

So, that's the raw data with a little explanation of how it's used. But what else can we see in the data to help improve cricketers?

First, these sessions show how much work you have to do to improve. 

20 hours of practice shakes down, on average, to 163 balls faced and 216 balls bowled per player. We can safely double that number for non-PV tracked balls (in the sencond net) to about 350 balls faced and 450 balls bowled. There is no doubt we have seen excellent improvements in individual techniques during this time but changes have come slowly and improvements have been small.

It's clear that to see major improvements, much more time is needed: Perhaps 3000 balls faced and balls bowled on PitchVision, or 120 hours of training (excluding fielding practice). Naturally, this is intimidating to cricketers who want fast results. So, break it down further using the 10 hour rule.

For example, the next aim for this group is a minimum of another 200 of both balls faced and balls bowled on PitchVision before the season begins (in around 20 weeks).  This will make a significant difference in the short term, but will also allow a focus on the longer term goal of the right volume for mastery. 

Secondly, it's clear that more pace is always better as long as accuracy is also good. The aim should be to add 10% ore more to every player's speed before the start of the season. This can be done with S&C, heavy ball bowling, technical tweaks and the right volume (for seamers this is following the 7/4/2 system of bowling four times a week, never more than two days in a row).

This is also true for spinners. If you are turning the ball and hitting the spot, you will be harder to play at 45mph than at 35mph. You can use fast bowler tricks to up the pace.

Lastly, speaking of spinners, it's clear tracking pace, deviation and accuracy together will allow you to decide on a tactical approach. Look at how deviation influences pace and accuracy and from these three data points decide how best to bowl in any given situation (give it a rip, dart it in, best line and sets of ball to winkle a batsman out).

Any questions?

And now I want to know, what more you would like to know.

We have so much logged it's easy for you to ask more about specifics. Do you want to know how pace influenced accuracy? Are you interested in the effect of volume on player motivation and confidence?

Ask away and we will get you the answers you want from this great vault of data and experience!

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Use "Power Positions" to Throw Harder with Less Injury Risk

We had a wonderful throwing based question from Peter on the podcast recently. Peter was coming back from injury of the shoulder and looking to build a throwing technique which would take pain away from that area.

I suggested that he made his throwing action more efficient. This increases power and significantly reduces the chance of throwing injury. So, what does this look like?


We can break it down into several phases, each one leading on from the next.

Phase 1: The table top wrist flick

The last link of the throwing kinetic chain is the wrist. It will be travelling faster than any other part of your body by the time all your forces of come up from the ground, through your body and into your throwing arm.

Place your throwing elbow on top of a tabletop created by the other forearm and hand.

Minimise the movement about throwing for arm and propel the ball with a wrist flick to our partner who is standing no more than 2m away from us.

The aim is to deliver a short distance, flat throw directed straight at your partners chest.

Feel your fingers and wrist directly behind the back and the top of the ball. If we are able to achieve this then it will help us maximise the force that we apply in the direction of our target.

Phase 2: The power position

What we are looking for in a power position is the front arm to create a "C" shape.

The elbow points towards the target (not the the front hand).

This C shape should be level with the shoulder. This can be seen in the picture below.

The throwing arm should look like an "L" with the ball pointing away at the top of the throwing circle.

It's crucial that the angle of the "L" is between 90-110 deg. If the angle is less than 90 degrees then it puts a huge amount of pressure on the elbow, shoulder and impedes power production when we put the elbow and throwing arm forward ahead of release.

The shape of the throwing hand at the back of the throwing circle resembles a 'snake-bite'. This ball points away from the target. The benefit of the ball being in this position is that as the body rotates, the hand will come through last and the fingers will be directly behind the back and top of the ball.

Most people have the ball facing the intended target at the top of the throwing circle and this leads to the fingers throwing the side of the ball at point of release. The result is that side spin is applied to the ball which negatively impacts on release speed, accuracy and power.

The way to practice this is to stand in an athletic throwing position with the feet wide apart. Place a ball in the throwing hand and hold your hands together at the bottom of the throwing circle.

The hands part. The front arm raises to the "C" position and the throwing hand passes the thigh into the "Power L" position at the back of the throwing circle.

Check at this point for the angle of the throwing arm, look to see what alignment it takes as the ball should be visible to a front on camera and watch to see if the "snakebite" is on show.

Repeat this motion 4 times to learn the movement and then on the 6th the front arm closes like a chicken wing into the side of the body.

This helps pull through the throwing side of the body in and ensures that the throwing arm moves in an appropriate plane on the way to release.

Throw the ball with minimal effort (you are throwing for form, not pace here) and then finish the throwing arm with a long reach down towards your shin.

This will spread the "deceleration" phase over a longer period of time and range. Many people injure their shoulders because they cut the follow through off short, which means that the throwing arm decelerates far too quickly.

A short and sharp follow through causes a braking motion which is similar to a car slamming on the brakes. The shoulder is the passenger who is hurled forward against the seat belt and then pulled back into the seat. It's a huge jolt.

Then compare this to a gradual braking process over 70 metres before coming to a gentle stop. That's what finishing at a fully range will feel like to your shoulder.

Phase 3: Add in follow-through step

The follow-through is absolutely crucial in keeping the throwing shoulder healthy and meaning that we can throw over a long period of time with great effectiveness.

In addition to the long and deep reach with the throwing arm, we now also incorporate a step through at this phase of the drill.

In exactly the same way as a fast bowler, the follow-through stride helps us to decelerate more effectively and over a longer time and range.

All we do in addition to phase 2 is add this step.

Phase 4: Starting square

All good fielders use their feet brilliantly before they pick the ball up. As a result they ensure that their body is relatively square to their target as they make contact with the ball.

This also has a very positive effect on the upcoming throw as the movement from the square to sideways back to square again facilitates significant levels of torque in the mid-section of our body. This adds power and pace to the throwing action.

All we do in this phase is start off square to our target before stepping forward with our back foot. This takes us into our power position.

We then pull our arms through and then finish with that long reach and follow-through step.

Phase 5: One fluid motion

Just speed up the motion of Phase 4!


  1. Listen to your body, it will tell you when you are ready to make the transition to the next phase.
  2. As a basic guide, do sets of 6 throws in each phase. Repeat the sets until you feel that you have mastered that phase.
  3. Throw no more than 40 throws in any session.
  4. If you only get to phase 2 in those 40 throws then start your next session at Phase 2 and go again.
  5. If your shoulder starts to get sore then stop. Your body is giving you feedback on either your technique or your throwing volume.

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Coaching Tour Diary: Iain Brunnschweiler with England in Sri Lanka

Iain Brunnschweiler is on tour with the England Under 19 side Sri Lanka. Here's his diary: It's a mixture of great stories and lessons for players and coaches at any level.

Day 1

It’s always a very exciting moment when I meet up with the squad, and it was no different this time as we gathered at Heathrow Airport ready for another sub-continental adventure. There’s one thing I can always be sure about 18 and 19 year old lads: they love stash! It was no different this time, with the players absolutely loving their branded-up England trackies and kit bags.

The most note-worthy moment of our journey out to Sri Lanka, (other than Dan Lawrence’s dress sense once he had got into his pyjamas on the plane!), was me watching a film called The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, starring Ben Stiller. This movie reminded me that life is there to be enjoyed every day, and that going on adventures which take you out of your comfort zone can inspire your mind and body.

This wasn't just entertainment. As a coach I use sources like this to make me consider the next way I can have an impact on player development. It could be be watching a movie, speaking to people who may challenge my thinking, or exposing myself to different environments both inside or outside of sport. It all works to broaden my mind.

Days 2 and 3

Whenever we travel across time zones with a squad, we follow an acclimatisation programme, which has been designed by our vastly experienced physio, Steve McCaig (Macca or "The Bear" as he is known to the staff).

One of the simple things Macca has learned over the years, is that ‘us coaches’ will always want to do more training than the boys need during the first couple of days on tour. When you are in a country with a totally different climate, it is vital that both players and staff don’t go too hard too soon. Otherwise, there is the danger of early burnout, especially while trying to change your body clock and adapt to the local time zones.

Sleep is clearly a vital part of this acclimatisation, and at least half of the squad and some of the staff wear wristbands that monitor their movement both during the day and at night. It has been quite entertaining as those of us who are more interested in the science of our bodies (the ‘badgers’!) have been comparing our sleep monitors each morning. One lad had a cumulative total of 10 hours sleep across three nights. Fortunately we can use this kind of information to make adaptions to player programmes to ensure that everyone gets the right volume of work and rest.

Day 4

Our first scheduled practice was cancelled due to the monsoon-like rainfall in Colombo, but today the sun was out in a vengeance. In my experience of Sri Lanka, when it is hot, it is seriously hot.

We made our way to the Premedasa Stadium for a proper high intensity training session, following our gradual increase of the last couple of days. The quick bowlers were coming in off their full runs for the first time outside, under the guidance of bowling coach, Stuart Barnes. This obviously made Barnesy and the whole fast bowling unit happy for the first time since we left the UK, as they were able to enter into top-level competition in the nets with our batters.

During our final training camp back in the UK, at the fantastic National Cricket Performance Centre in Loughborough, Barnesy tracked the player’s line, length trajectories and speeds. He was able to present information around the lines and lengths that are the most successful in Sri Lanka, and then allow the lads to have a competition to see who could reproduce these lengths the most.

Having the ability to track data like this is incredibly useful for player development, as well as performance preparation. If you clearly know what your objectives are, and you can measure a player’s ability to achieve those objectives, then you can help to build a really information plan to ensure they are progressing with their skills.

Day 5

Our first match day, and a 50-over game against a Sri Lankan Board XI. It turned out that there were several familiar faces in the opposition, as we had played against them in home and away England Development Programme U17 series in 2013 and 2014.

One of the best things about cricket, is the ability to make friends around the globe, and to be able to speak a communal language of sport. Coaching the Sri Lankan side was Roger Wijesuriya, who had run the U17 team previously, so it was fantastic for me to be able to re-ignite our friendship, along with other members of the coaching staff.

On the Sri Lankan team there were names such as Charith Asalanka, Avishka Fernando, Kavin Bandara, Raveen Seyer and Thilan Nimesh; names that many of you will not have heard of, but you may wish to commit to memory! I’m confident that some of these names, as well as many of the players in the current England U19 team will be pitting their wits against each other at full international level in the coming years.

We scored 230, with George Bartlett from Somerset scoring a magnificent 94, having come in with us struggling at 36-4. This was a decent total, and the lads were fired up to get out and defend it, before a huge lightning storm engulfed the stadium, putting an end to any hopes of us even bowling a ball.

Once it was confirmed that there was no chance of play, all of the players hit the gym to complete their conditioning programmes.

It was a shame we couldn’t complete the match, but there was plenty to learn.

The players, under the guidance of captain Brad Taylor (Hampshire), had a very productive debrief with each other to reflect on the batting innings. This groups growing ability to review their performances in matches and training, will, I am sure help them to improve as both individuals and a team.

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Train Your Mind for Cricket with the 4C Method

Most of us know what do do with a technical issue: Get in the nets and fix it. We also know that to get fit you train with cricket specific fitness work. But what if you want to improve the mental side of your game?

Cricket Show S6 Episode 49: Gary Kirsten's Face

Mark Garaway and David Hinchliffe talk about Gary Kirsten's recent visit to Millfield school, and why his face is so important to good coaching. Yes, really.

Plus, there are reader's questions on bowling. This week the queries are about hitting the seam and bowling with a splayed front foot. It's another half hour of cricket audio for every badger.


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: 390
Date: 2015-12-18