Pitchvision Academy


We lead with a great wicketkeeping drill from Mark Garaway and used by Ian Healy to become one of the best stumpers who ever lived!

Plus there are tips on better nets, video analysis, batting plans and bowling machines.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Wicketkeeper Drill: The Wall Game

In a few short months during the summer of 1988 I went from being a 5 foot 5 inch aspiring club standard fast bowler to playing U15 International cricket as a wicket keeper. This came about through a combination of a number of factors.

 The most important factor was luck: In my 3rd game as a keeper I was watched by an incredibly influential person within the English game who pulled some strings. This fast-tracked me into a trial for the West of England squad. It was ironically held at Millfield School.

I went to the Bunbury Festival and kept wicket well (for a novice) over the next 4 days. I was then I was informed that I would be playing for England U15s against Scotland U17s the following week.

Bonkers eh?

I had received no specialist coaching as there were no wicket keeping coaches anywhere in 1988, let alone from my home on the Isle of Wight.

So how did I learn the movement patterns and skills that seemed to pull the wool over the eyes of selectors and coaches alike in 1988?

The wicketkeeper wall game

Effectively, I taught myself to keep wicket in my back yard. We had a brick extension at the back of the house which fed onto a patio area.

In this space I used to pretend that I was keeping to my fast bowling heroes: Ian Botham, Neil Foster, Malcolm Marshall; and spinners such as John Embury and Phil Edmonds.

I did this by throwing golf ball or old tennis ball against the extension wall whilst keeping behind some home made stumps. The ball would come back at good speed off the wall, often deviating off of the brick wall and sometimes hitting the edge of the patio slab as well.

I created some rough patches with old bits of carpet and placed them on a length. Again, the ball would take some funny bounces off of those surfaces.

My cricket bag was a fantastic "batter" in front of me when I practiced taking leg side balls to different types of spinners and seamers.

Every ball was taken as if I was in the middle of a Test Match.

I could sense the crowd, feel the pressure of the game around me and would even commentate to myself as I threw the ball into the wall and received the ball back off of it.

I used to do this for hours each day. In many ways, I had already kept wicket in 20 Test Matches (in my head) before I actually put on gloves in a game for the 1st time!

What a unique drill.

Or so I thought!

Many years later, I had a conversation with the great Australian keeper, Ian Healy about this "unique" drill and how it kickstarted my career.

Ian just laughed and then showed me the golf ball that he used to take with him on every Test tour to do exactly the same thing.

He also used to visualise the opposition players batting infront of him with Warne, Gillespie and McGrath being "bowlers in his head". He would find the most difficult surfaces that he could, and practice for hours on his own. He would end up in all sorts of weird and wonderful places around the cricketing world.

I still use the drill with players at school. It provides them with a self relent drill that they can make their own.

I encourage them to build layers of distraction or different bounce types (from different balls or surfaces) to test their movement, speed, balance and catch.

Here is James Seward using the drill on the Pool shelf in the Aquatic centre last week.





Watch the way that he chases the ball to prevent a quick single and maybe create a run out opportunity. James is creating his own reality and practicing really well.

I now know that the drill is not unique.

But it's a great one nonetheless.

Give it a go.

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5 "Must Try" Hacks to Cricket Nets that are Proven to Grow Your Game

All year, every year club, school and Academy players head to nets. As the aim is to improve, how can we make nets achieve that aim?

For the thinking cricketer, there is a list of things that make you say, "I must try that". Somehow you never get round to it and end up doing the same thing you always did.

That's fine if it works for you, but there is a famous saying; "do what you always do to get what you always got". So ask yourself; can you improve things?

If you can, should you try one or two from the list below this year?

What's the worst that can happen?

1. Plan ahead

What's your plan at practice?

Just by answering that question you will get more from your practice. It's all about focus. It's well proven that when you are focused on a specific aim, you are far more likely to succeed.

You wouldn't set off on a journey to somewhere new without a map or GPS. The same applies.

Don't rely on the coach to make a plan for you. They might, but it's not going to be as good as one you make yourself.

Don't think "I just want to hit balls" is a plan. It rarely is.

Think about what strength you can turn into a super strength, what weakness you can bring up to scratch or what new thing you can learn. Then go do it.

2. Warm up

Warming up is like flossing or eating vegetables: We know it's important yet not enough of us do it.

How many net sessions have you been to where there has been no warm up? Plenty I bet.

How many net sessions have you been to where the coach or captain has lead a warm up? The rest I'm sure.

In over 20 years of coaching and playing, I can think of exactly three players who warmed up without prompting. It just doesn't happen. It's is even still seen as a bit weird.

It isn't weird. Warming up - when done right - is proven beyond doubt to stave off injury and improve performance. If you are a fast bowler warming up is beyond essential, it makes you bowl faster. If you are a fielder warming up will get your throw quicker and more accurate. If you are a batsman warming up will help you hit the first half volley for four.

If your team doesn't have a warm up culture, or has one that doesn't work for you, then do your own.

Get there a bit earlier and do what you need to do before anyone else arrives. It shows deep commitment, it improves performance and helps you stay on the park.

3. Keep score

If we go to every practice with a plan, the next step is to measure how you are going. You do this by keeping score at practice.

The big benefit of measurement is you can see the big picture. We are terrible at remembering how we did, but recording how you did solves that issue, shows you areas to improve and builds confidence as you improve.

There are a million ways to keep score, with PitchVision a very simple way to track things as you go. Here are some of my favourites:

There are plenty more.

You don't have to measure every little thing every time, but keeping a running score with testing is a powerful way to see how you are going and make adjustments if you need to.

5. Use video

Another underused part of practice is video. Yet again, we all think it's a good idea, but the practice is thin on the ground. I don't recall the last time I saw a player at nets actively ask to be filmed.

But don't we all have a camera in our pocket thanks to our smart phones these days?

Perhaps it's the stigma of asking your mate to film you. To that I say, get over it. The benefits far outweigh the shame. And anyway, if everyone does it, it's no longer embarrassing. So pair up with someone who films you and in return you film them. Use the PitchVision app on Android or iPhone and go for it.

The other option is to use PV/VIDEO. You can set up a couple of cameras in the net that attach to a laptop to record every ball automatically. Imagine being able to call up all the balls you bowled or faced instantly and filter them by type of ball. That's next level stuff accessible to any club or school. It goes into any net like this:

My challenge to you is to try these things over the next few net sessions and find out what sticks. Nets are much better when you are that little bit more mindful. Find out for yourself.

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Cricket Show S7 Episode 4: The New Batting Manual

Sam Lavery, David Hinchliffe and Mark Garaway hit the controversy button on the show. The topics include "mankading", bowling left and right handed in the same over and what goes into the "batting manual" now methods are many are similarities are few.

Plus, the usual couple of questions get a good delve.


Th team help a player who is strong off his legs but also getting out to the shot early in his innings. Then there is a follow up with a player who has successfullymoved from blocker to hitter and wants to go further with it.

Listen in 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: - email - twitter - Facebook - Google+

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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Cricket Tips: Combining Video with A Bowling Machine Boosts Performance

We all know how good a bowling machine is for improving batting technique. But just using it to hit balls is not the best way. That's where a good review and PitchVision's PV/VIDEO comes in.

This video shows you how you can use video analysis for instant feedback on your bowling machine session. This allows you to tap into the proven power of deliberate practice and effective review.


Work on Batting Plans Before Batting Technique

When you bat with a plan, you never have to worry about technique again.


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: 397
Date: 2016-02-05