Pitchvision Academy


This week the PitchVision Academy newsletter gives you an exclusive study about slip fielding. If you want to be a better slip fielders, get reading the tips from James Hughes.

Plus, Jordan Finney talks about cricket injuries, Mark Garaway has an outstanding batting tip for front foot play and we banish some bad cricket habit.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Do You Know Where to Look When Slip Fielding? Science Has the Answer

A recent study as revealed the answer to an age-old question; the best place for slip fielders to look when waiting for a catch.


The study - performed by James Hughes at the UK’s Southampton Solent University - used eye-tracking equipment to find out where slip fielders look when waiting for the ball and tracking it for a catch.

And as James is a long time friend of PitchVision and excellent coach, we knew we could rely on his research to produce the goods.

What did it reveal?

  • First slip focuses on the ball.
  • Second slip and beyond focus on the bat.

While this clarifies much conventional coaching advice, it’s good to know that most coaches are telling players the right thing. If you hear anything else, treat it with a pinch of salt.

Where it gets even more interesting when you compare players of different ability.

How not to catch

James also discovered a difference between abilities. High quality players tend to focus “more specifically” than amateur players.

The amateurs try to take in more information by spreading attention between the bat and ball. The theory is the more information you have, the better chance of a catch.

However, research from others has shown that this assumption is incorrect.

In fact, the more information the brain has to process, the longer it takes to make a decision to catch it, and your reaction time is slowed. The elite players have developed a method of focusing on either the ball (1st slip) or the bat (2nd slip and beyond) and deciding more quickly.

In James’ work, the amateur players were trying to look everywhere at once. The pros had a laser focus and took more catches.

So, what does tha mean for your practice?

Coaching visual awareness

Traditionally, coaching close catching has focused on technique like hand and feet position. There has also been advice on concentration. These are important but - as this study shows - the visual part of catching is all important.

While James didn’t offer specific advice for visual coaching, it’s clear that practical catching practice should most accurately reflect game situations. Good coaches combine these drills with advice on visual awareness alongside technique and fitness.

Good catchers use practice to try the technical, mental and visual tricks they have learned until they find a method that works best. Trial and error is the best teacher.

It’s a simple upgrade, but one that’s going to get you more slip catches this season. As proven by research.

Thanks to James Hughes for providing PitchVision Academy with exclusive access to his work. You can find James coaching cricket at Portsmouth Grammar School.

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Hit Under the Eyes: Upgrade Your Batting Coaching Advice

One early season challenge is the adaptation from indoor surfaces to slow and two paced grass pitches.


The team I coach learned that the hard way at the weekend and it has promoted significant conversations and work in the subsequent days. It’s been great to see how “failure” and effective self-review has led to excellent and - largely self-generated - practice.

My team lost six wickets on Saturday to lob up catches from full deliveries on a typically “English” slow early season pitch.

So how can coaches help our young charges to control the better the ball better on slow early season decks?

The Sachin Tendulkar bounce-ball game

I had the huge honour of throwing some balls to Sachin Tendulkar back in 2008.

I expected Sachin to ask me to unleash some thunderbolts but instead he asked me to throw some slow half volleys and full tosses so he could practice playing the ball right under his eyes.

The worlds greatest batsmen hit these average balls directly into the ground in front of him using a straight drive.

The ball bounced harmlessly straight back to me and I would catch it in my mitt. The reason why he was doing this was to help him control his contact ahead of the Test match on the notoriously slow Chennai pitch.

This drill can be repeated with tennis balls which means that players of a young age can practice in pairs (buddy-up) and work together.

The Gary Kirsten nugget of gold

The former South Africa and India World Cup winning coach, Gary Kirsten encourages players to


“Hit the ball on the down swing, not the follow through”.


It’s a different coaching cue for the same outcome as the Tendulkar drill above. This will give the player more control and help establish a consistent and appropriate contact point.

The ball will hit the ground early on its journey into and through the infield.

Think about it, how many young players do we see having a lovely finish and follow through to their drive yet they either miss it or they hit it in the air as their follow through also incorporates the contact point?

Stand at the side of the net and watch your batters strike the ball from throw downs or bowling machine and notice if they are hitting on the downswing or on the follow through.

It’s a great coaching point and an easy thing for a player to get their head around.

Subtle & individual differences in contact points

We do know that some players can make contact with the ball slightly further in front of convention and still control the ball perfectly as a result of their body organisation and incredibly high levels of hand to eye coordination.

Kevin Pietersen, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke and Jos Buttler are examples of this. However, all of these players hit their best drives on their downswing.

These types of players may well be compromised by the conventional statement of “hit the ball under your eyes”. They prefer to see the contact in front of their eyes rather than under them.

The “hit the ball on the down swing; not the follow through” is a good tip for them as they will be able to relate to it and execute effectively.

About 25% of the population have this type of body organisation which includes highly attuned hand-eye coordination and the ability to control contact (catching and batting) better slightly further away from them than other players.

Factor this in when observing your players, especially from that sideways on angle.

So there you have it.

Two legends of the game incorporating very simple yet highly relevant coaching methodology into their practice and coaching language in order to overcome the challenges of slower, early season pitches.

If it’s good enough for Gary and Sachin then it’s good enough for the U14 School batters too!

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Cricket Show S7 Episode 15: Keep the Ball Shiny

Mark Garaway, Sam Lavery and David Hinchliffe get together to talk coaching cricket. Lead by a Twitter debate, the team talk about how to keep a ball shiny, and lead on to a wider discussion about what do do when teammates disagree about the best way to do anything.

The it's on to listener's questions. The first asks about bowling technique and the second kicks off a chat about some unusual field placings the team has seen over the years.

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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How to Bounce Back from Cricket Injuries

So, you just got injured?

There is nothing worse that seeing your team mates playing, going through immense highs and tough lows together, while you are not able to help them. This causes lack of motivation and even hate towards the game. Can you deal with the mental side of a physical injury?

Can You Banish These Bad Cricket Habits?

We are all guilty of the odd discretion from time to time, yet we all want to improve as cricketers. So let's work together to banish the poor habits and replace them with efficient and effective ones instead.


If you are any good, your career might just depend on it.



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: 409
Date: 2016-04-29