Pitchvision Academy


This edition covers another range of cricket coaching, playing and analysis topics.

Mark Garaway talks about Stuart Broad's shoulder, and what we learn from it. There are 623 bals thrown with the Sidearm on PitchVision. There is a simple drill that anyone can use at nets to make them better for batsman.

And we even help you fight off the pain of when it rains.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

What Stuart Broad Teaches Us About Conventional Coaching and Shoulder Position

Stuart Broad recently went to the top of the ICC Test match bowling rankings after capturing 6-17 in England's emphatic victory at The Wanderers. Stuart has been England's best line bowler for years.

And he achieves this with a front arm that pulls away to the offside of the right handed batter.

But hang on a minute.

Isn't the front arm our "rudder"? The thing that we use to aim with?


I'm sure that's how I got taught when I was a kid!

Come to think of it, Broad does exactly the same when he throws. He pulls his front arm (left arm) to one side yet the line accuracy of his throws is also really good.

Are their others who do the same?

The simple answer is yes!

Consider your "aiming" shoulder

As you know, I enjoy a conversation about individuality and every single one of us has a specific shoulder that we aim with.

For me, it's my left.

So when I bat (I'm a right hander batter, bowler and thrower) I can use this front shoulder to aim with. This helps my cover drive and I turn my left shoulder to initiate my movement and aim into my cut shot.

My left "aiming" shoulder also helps me to get in a sideways position - which is conventional coaching wisdom - when I aim my throw or bowl.

But what happens when you are a right handed thrower and bowler whose aiming shoulder is also your right?

Enter Stuart Broad.

Stuart uses his left arm as part of his kinetic chain to transfer momentum, not to aim.

His right shoulder is his bowling shoulder but also his aiming one. Now that's not conventional cricket!

Defying convention

There will be many amongst you who are thinking "Shut up Garaway, you're mad!"

But before you send me to the doctor, have a look at some good throwers in your cricket team.

How many defy convention and find it easier to throw accurately when their throwing shoulder aims instead of the usual non-throwing shoulder?

Watch, watch again. Now call me mad! How many coaches only coach getting completely sideways and aligned to the target in order to throw accurately?

I was one of those until very recently.

Batting shoulders

As a left handed batter, Broad uses his right front "aiming" shoulder in a conventional way to play a cover drive. He's not alone. There are loads of great players whose back shoulder is their aiming one.

Two of the greatest left handed batters of modern times have a left (back) aiming shoulder.

Kumar Sangakkara and Adam Gilchrist would drive and cut through the offside without pointing their front shoulder in the direction of the shot. They were both strong through the point and cover region and didn't do it as per the "manual".

Similarly, Kevin Pietersen's back shoulder is his aiming shoulder. His cover drives and back foot drives are awesome, yet he doesn't turn his front shoulder into the drive.

So where does this awareness come from?

I am incredibly lucky to have been trained by Ralph Hippolyte and Bertrand Théraulaz in Action Type Approach. The approach does many things and helps facilitate natural movement for any given individual. It helps to provide strategies for solving technical and tactical problems. The role of the "dominant shoulder" is one of the aspects of the approach that helps me to better understand the players that I work with.

How many players do you coach that fall into this category without you even realising it?

How many times have you coached the conventional use of the front shoulder and actually made life more difficult for the player?

Can you fast track someone by using your enhanced observational awareness and knowledge of individuality?

I know I can now.

Thank you Ralph and Bertrand.

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Case Study: How Long Does it Take to Improve Cricket Coaching Skills with Sidearm?

As you recall, before Christmas I set a personal aim of improving my accuracy with the Sidearm ball thrower. This article is a report on how I did over the last seven or so weeks, all tracked on PitchVision.


Before the results, let me remind you that I identified my skill of throwing the Sidearm as an area to improve. I set a goal of throwing 500 balls, tracking on PitchVision and seeing if that improved the key indicators of accuracy and pace.

Every chance I got, I popped to the indoor nets and threw, sometimes at batsmen and sometimes with no one.

It was fun when it went well and, more often, frustrating when I couldn't get the control I wanted. I cursed when the ball was too short (my most common issue) and shook my fist when it was too wide outside off stump (another problem). I was glad I had PitchVision to remind me of the good so I didn't focus too hard on the bad.

Do 600 balls increase accuracy?

The results were clear: a dramatic improvement in accuracy.

As you can see above, I threw 623 balls on PitchVision. Overall my accuracy improved from 35% up to 70%.

A word about "accuracy": As I was aiming to get the ball down the other end in a pace the batsman could play a shot, I set a huge target area. This area would be much smaller for real bowlers. I however, am not concerned with bowling half volley length, or wide long hops along with good length balls. These are all good for the batsman to pick line and length and shot selection, so nothing was wasted if it hit the target zone.

You can also see my pace improved by 7mph overall. I put this down to establishing a technique of a six pace walk in and using my front arm like a bowler so the batsman can get a feel for the action. When I started I tried a few different methods including "standing and throwing", but settled on this as a good way to up pace and accuracy when I got the hang of it. This method is still not the same as bowling, but it is much closer and allows the batsman to get a trigger move in and an idea of when the ball is coming out.

Most impressively, the last 100 balls saw me take an even bigger jump in accuracy, showing that 600 balls with the Sidarm seems to be about right for learning the ropes:

As you can see, accuracy in the last 100 balls is up to 89% and pace is up to nearly 65mph. I could never bowl that fast so I love that I can get a decent club pace with the coaching tool.

Conclusion, and what next?

So it's clear to me: 600 balls seems to be a good ball park figure for getting reasonably accurate with the Sidearm.

While your results may vary, I did this in less than 2 months. I urge you to bear this in mind when turning a skill up. It's not as tough as it seems if you put in the volume and track the results.

So what's next?

In the next phase, I will continue to throw more balls with the Sidearm and reduce the target area size overall. I still want to be able to bowl "bad balls" but I also want to reign in the very short, or very wide. I'll also start to track types of balls based on line and length. In the long run I want to be able to get a ball close to the spot I want, rather than make it a broadly accurate but random feed.

In my mind the way to do this is to continue to throw lots of balls with the Sidearm. As I write there are three months until the start of the season. A reasonable aim for this is 700 more balls, taking me over 1300 for the winter.

So, in summary,

  • Volume is a good way to improve if you track your results.
  • It took me about 600 balls to become usefully consistent.
  • The progress was broadly steady between sessions, with a big "aha" moment after around 500 balls.
  • Goals can be met (improved accuracy and pace) by focusing on a measurable target (500 balls).
  • To further progress, set a new goal and target.

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Video: Cricket Net Drill to Improve Your Batting Average

Use this simple adaptation to a normal net to add pressure and realism and improve your batting average.

Track the runs and wickets that happen in the net: 4 runs for middling the ball. 1 run for hitting it into a gap. You can be out caught, bowled, LBW or stumped.

Calculate your "average" as normal and keep track over a number of sessions. It's fun to compare your net average to your game average and to other people's averages. PitchVision does this automatically, so if you want PitchVision to help you with this awesome drill, click here

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Cricket Show S7 Episode 3: Unrealistic Practice

David Hinchliffe, Mark Garaway and Sam Lavery talk cricket coaching and playing. The shows topics this time include "unrealistic" drills that have huge gains. There are drill for both playing spin and playing seam bowling.

Then, questions are sent in and answered in detail.

One is from a left handed batsman who has an issue with closing the face and playing into the leg side. The second question is from an opener who is batting in the middle order and struggling to change his game. The team get stuck in an give a few answers that can be tried.

Listen in for the details.

How to Stop Rain Getting You Down

How true does this situation sound?

You are ready for a game. You have prepared hard and long. You are keen to put yourself to the test, have some fun and enjoy the challenge. The anticipation is wonderful.

Then it rains.


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: 396
Date: 2016-01-29