Pitchvision Academy


The year is over, but the cricket is ongoing. The team review the last year and draw some lessons going into 2016.

Plus, there is the first in a series of "one to one" case studies looking at training methods and how well they work. This edition is for the fast bowlers.

Have a great weekend, and a great 2016.

David Hinchliffe

Cricket Coaching Review of the Year

After another stonking year of cricket, it's time we had a quick look back at the highlights. So, whether you are a veteran of PitchVision Academy or this is your first visit, this collection of content is a great place to look at what we gave you in the last 12 months.


Here are the very best cricket coaching articles on PitchVision Academy in the last 12 months that will stand you in good sted for the rest of your career.


As you can imagine, this year we had a strong focus on drills and practices that will help you improve as a cricketer.

We started with a warm up. We talked you through some upgrades to practice, including ways to improve decision making and some cricket hand-eye drills.

The batsmen got a bunch of drills too including,

And my personal favorite, ways to hit a bowler off a good length.

While the bowlers also got some new ideas and practices,

Speaking of practice. We took a long look at how much it takes to reach a satisfyingly good level. It's more than you think, but not as hard to start as you imagine.

And everyone got a bit of fielding advice,

Understanding your game

A big theme from this year is that players are best when they understand their own game, from strengths and weaknesses through to personality traits.

There was some "tough love" in January on this theme and how it stops you from becoming a cricketer. Despite this, most of the content was a lot more about patting you on the back.

Mainly, we talked a heck of a lot about one word: Review: This was the most important article of the year, and we referred back to it many times.

But we didn't end there. The "ideal performance state" was explained as a key tool in the mission to understand yourself. Mark Garaway helped focus minds by asking "what does success look like". We told you about the importance of looking the part.

Of course, all this skill in knowing your game is not an excuse to play one way.

Confidence in tactics

There was also a lot of advice on improve your ability to handle pressure situations with mental toughness. This article asks you nine questions to help you discover where you are.

Once you know your level, we show you how to have a mental net., and set up practice to develop your ability to deal with unfairness and manage frustrations. We then move to the middle to fight off the "chimp mind" and be your real self in the middle, not an out of control monkey.

We didn't ignore tactical nous though. We examined game plans for all batsmen here.

After the game, we teach you how to deal with critics and those who try to knock you down with myths.

Data with PitchVision

Finally, we started showing the power of PitchVision with a series of drills and a case study, following eight players for 10 weeks. There is no doubt that ideas like "gamification", and "quantified self" have taken hold this year, and that measurement is now seen as a core part of developing as a player.

It's this theme that we will continue into the next 12 months most strongly, giving you further creative ways to use data at your level to become a better player.

I hope your year was as good as ours, and that together we can progress even further next year!

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What Mark Garaway Learned This Year

I thoroughly enjoy spending time with people who I can learn from. So here are my three top learning experiences from 2015.


Andrew Strauss and the Ashes

I was lucky enough to work once more with Andrew Strauss during the Easter holiday in St Lucia on the Superskills Cricket Academy.

It was wonderful to spend time with the double-Ashes winning captain, a man who leads his environment through strong adherence to his core values.

Whilst we were in St Lucia, the news broke that Paul Downton was leaving the role of Managing Director of England Cricket. Unbeknown to me at the time, Straussy had been contacted by the ECB to see if he was interested in taking up the role.

We discussed some of the key points that a new incumbent would need to address. Strauss gave me his views on each one.

It has been great to see him make those strong decisions on behalf of England cricket once he was appointed into the role only 1 week later.

Those major decisions revolved around the coaching staff, specific players and style of play.

He has dealt with the KP issue in a typically "Strauss" way, he appointed Trevor Bayliss and has been instrumental in bringing in consultants such as Paul Collingwood, Gary Kirsten, Daniel Vettori and Mahala Jayawardene who all add value and different experience into the coaching mix.

So far, Strauss has overseen an Ashes turnaround and a complete shift in the way that England play ODI cricket. They are now a joy to behold in the shorter formats.

Strauss is an authentic character. He is strong without having to shout about it and an easy man to follow. He gives his players and coaching staff the freedom to make decisions.

It was an absolute pleasure to work with Straussy again. I know that his strong valued based leadership style is one that we can all learn from as coaches, captains and players.

How the young inspire the not-so-young!

Millfield has again been a fantastic place to work and learn over the course of 2015.

I inherited a team which won only 2 games in 2014, were at a low ebb and were a disparate bunch.

We concentrated on 4 major themes in an attempt to turn around their fortunes on the field:

  1. Rewrite the rules on running between the wickets.
  2. To bring the stumps into play, always (either with pace or big spin).
  3. To become an awesome catching team with a relentless attitude.
  4. To become a bunch of good blokes through honest review, reflection and communication.

The players were awesome, everyone contributed hugely and bought into these 4 aims.

Tom Bevan and Ned Dunning were outstanding leaders in their own respective ways (authentic like Strauss) and the players demanded the best I could give them in fielding practices. By the end of the summer term I was hitting balls into practices as I used to with Paul Collingwood and Jimmy Anderson. I loved that.

They team taught me to never give up on a game of cricket! By firstly predicting the outcome and then by winning the match from a seemingly impossible situation vs Gloucestershire U15s. That got the ball rolling.

Their use of the review system (stop-start-continue) in the season was simply brilliant. The players worked concisely yet diligently to focus, inspire and motivate their way to 19 wins from 21 games and to become the National U15 T20 Champions.

Throughout the school there are now 51 County Age Group Players (boys and girls) and 23 players who are on County Academy or EPP programmes. Their hard work underpins their success. It's great to see.

George Hankins and Tom Moores left the Upper 6th form and picked up County Contracts with Gloucestershire and Nottinghamshire respectively.

George Bartlett and Tom Moores have just won places in the England Under 19 World Cup Squad which leaves for Bangladesh on the 7th January and 6 others played regional cricket at U15 and U17 levels last summer.

It's a wonderful environment for the coaching staff and I to work. A coaching playground!

Gary Kirsten Cricket Academy

In the last few weeks I was able to work alongside Gary Kirsten and his fantastic coaching team. They bought bundles of enthusiasm and knowledge with them working with 18 cricketers and 4 coaches over 3 days at Millfield.

Gary has a magnificent communication style that connects everyone that he coaches; from Indian God, Sachin Tendulkar to 11 year old Joseph Eckland.

His ability to speak simply, highlighting key words with such great enthusiasm helps connect him to every listener.

As Gary spoke I realised that I have heaps of work to do as my communication style is simply rubbish in comparison. Truly inspirational (if not a little damning!)

Another excellent year full of learning, positive experiences and being surround by fantastic influences (Young and old!).

Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Maybe during a quiet moment have a go at reflecting on what you have learnt about yourself and your game (coaching or playing) in 2015?

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Case Study: Bowl Faster with More Accuracy in 10 Weeks

In our previous 10 week case study, we looked at overall results for the group, so now I want to drill down further and look at how individual players fared. The first of these players is "A", who wanted to bowl faster while improving his accuracy over a couple of months in the off season.

Let's look at what we did and how we did it.


Background to a fast bowler

A is a rising star: A fast right arm club seamer. He is the quickest in the team and most likely the quickest in the region. He has played semi-professional representive cricket and is 24 years old. He has ambitions beyond this. At the start of the 10 week training we set a benchmark to find out where he stood. His results are impressive for an indoor facility with very short run ups:

Benchmark bowling session (click image to enlarge)

As you can see, his average pace was 73.63mph (about 7mph faster than the next quickest bowler in the club), with a top speed of 77.97mph. His average length was 6.55m (anything between 5-7 is good). His accuracy was 17.6% in the grey dotted target zone and on the line of the stumps.

His goal was to improve his accuracy, hit the stumps more often and push the pace up further if possible. Like all good quickies, he wanted to make the batsmen jump around!

What training improves speed?

We put together a programme based on his goals that consisted of,

  1. Technical analysis with video.
  2. Technical drills.
  3. Power drills.
  4. Target bowling.
  5. "Open" bowling with a batsman.

The first stage compared technique to a perfect template based on Ian Pont's 4 Tent Peg positions. We picked out a couple of points that we both thought would aid in both pace and accuracy development.

The next step was to teach him the "tent peg" drills to focus on technical elements. This was to both make a change and to further lock in the strong elements of his action. We did this without a ball and at a very slow speed to learn how each position feels. We spend a couple of early sessions doing this for around an hour, gradually moving from slow speed to walk through and jog through then bringing a ball back in.

At the same time I taught him some power drills to increase the force he could generate into the ball. As he was already a gym-goer, we focused on throwing a 2kg medicine ball because he could replicate bowling more closely. We also did some heavy ball bowling.

As the sessions moved on, we did these drills less, treating them as part of the warm up, but we always returned to both technique and power at every session.

The rest of each session was dedicated to moving between target bowling and bowling at a batsman. This allowed us to see how well the changes were locking in, and what effect they had on his chosen goals (pace and accuracy). In an ideal world, we would have gone back to basics without any bowling for several weeks, then gradually bring it back in, but due to the constraints of needing to allow all the players in the group to practice, we had to move between technical work, target and open bowling training. We managed this by adjusting time on each section as we saw fit.

For a coaches' point of view, what was interesting to me was the comprimises we had to make yet still get quaility training in. As club coaches and players we can't get every detail covered, so we are searching for ways to get as much value from the limited time we have. This is a two way street with the player, where sometimes the coach comprimises and sometimes the player does things for the good of the group rather tham himself. Fortunately in this case, the player was hard working yet selfless and kept the interests on the group in mind alongside his own aims.

The results

So what happened?

Looking at the last half of the training, when we focused more on bowling than technique, we can see some excellent improvements (again click the image to enlarge):

Pace was up to 74.83mph (a small but noticeable increase) and his fastest ball was 82.68mph, a four mile per hour jump.

Even more impressive, his accuracy improved significantly. His target zone accuracy went up to 23.9% hitting the right spot and staying on the line of the stumps.

His average length was slightly fuller at 4.98m. This also included some yorker practice, and without that his length was 5.45m (Sidebar: I was happy to see this as one of his previous weaknesses had been bowling too short, so he improved his length without even actively working on it).

Additionally, he only bowled one ball down the leg side, turning one of his orginal strengths (rarely bowling leg side) into a super-strength.

In short, this was a victory all round.

We reviewed the sessions over coffee and agreed the experiment had been a success. Our next plan is to continue to "warm up" with both tent peg and power drills and spend practice time focusing on getting accuracy even higher while keeping average pace above 75mph.

Any questions?

So now we want to know if you have questions about this process or the results. Whether you are a coach looking to replicate this, or a player wanting to bowl faster, please get in touch and ask away.

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The Secrets of Getting Wickets When You Are Military Medium

Bowling is exciting when there is pace and power around, but the real work in the club game is done by the medium pace bowler.

Quick Tip: Make the Coach Redundant

Two of the best new drills I did last year came from players.

The five most improved players in my team from last year came up with their own solutions to problems.

What does that tell us?

For me, it says a few things,


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: 392
Date: 2016-01-01