Pitchvision Academy


This newsletter celebrates coaching. With the Coach of the Year announced below - and an exclusive interview - we also get coaching advice from Mark Garaway and Khyati Gulani.

Plus, we reveal a brilliant mental trick for staying focused at the crease.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Rob Walter: PitchVision Coach of the Year

Rob Walter - Head Coach of the Titans franchise - has been named PitchVision Coach of the Year for 2016.

 Walter has been at Titans since 2013, and in the 2015-16 season the team won both the Sunfoil Series and Ram Slam T20 competitions.

PitchVision caught up with Rob to find out more about the secrets of his success.

Rob Walter's cricket coaching tips

  • In this day and age, the most important element is to manage the different personalities and abilities of players. That way you can get the sum of all your resources to work in the same direction. -I can't name one coach as my biggets influence. That's because it's about taking what you can from everyone you meet. I try to pick up both the best and worst from everyone so I can set my own philosophy for the players.
  • The toughest part of coaching is dealing with players who have not been selected or have lost a contract. It's always tough because the disappoinment is so huge.
  • There's no difference between more or less talented players. Guys with talent need more challenges but ultimately what counts is what you do on the field.
  • At any level there is a balance between technique, mental strength and physical conditioning. Younger guys need more technique but even senior guys can benefit from technical work. At the Titans we also set high standards for conditioning and it starts to count at the end of the season.
  • The best performance lie in doing the basics really well. Basic drills are the building blocks to high performance at the end of the line.
  • There is no secret that cricket is moving quickly, especially batting. AB de Villiers has changed the game but it's not just him: Maxwell, Steve Smith and many more can do amazing things. The next step will be how the bowlers reply to batsmen finding new ways to score runs.
  • Successful environments are built on strong cultures. Coaches need to understand how to generate the best cultures. Being good at cricket alone is not enough any more. It's what goes before that and what goes into man management that makes a huge difference.
  • The toughest part of moving up a level for players is understanding what you need to do to succeed. Different players will have different methods, but you always have to improve your consistency and skill levels. If you, as a player, are open to learning you will succeed faster.
  • The advice I would give a new coach - apart from not doing it! - is to take time to step back and look at the small victories you get every day. Don't just chase the big things like trophies.



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Khyati Gulani: The Awesome Power of the Question

This is a guest article Khyati Gulani. Khyati is an ex-cricketer now coaching state and academy cricket in Delhi.

One of the most important parts of communication is the culture to question.


We all come from different cultures and have different ways of expressing ourselves. Indians are not often encouraged to question their elders. We’re taught from the beginning, not to question the status quo. One of the key tenets of respect to elders is to not question them.

That make us less confident, less open and less communicative: Bad listeners. Yes, listening abilities are proportional to our ability to confidently ask questions. Questions increase our understanding.

Since we’re not encouraged to ask questions, we don’t appreciate being questioned either. In fact, some of us take grave offence to being asked questions! As coaches, we have a collective responsibility to ideate, incubate, encourage and grow pupils under us. Different folks need different strokes and incentives to open up. Every soul needs appreciation, support, acceptance and approval. This is especially true at people's peak or at the lowest. We often criticise or punish the player in the public and applaud silently, which has to be other way round.

Coaching must encourage and nurture active discussions and exchange of ideas.

A great question has the ability to change tracks, get us all thinking.

The ability to ask powerful questions is related more to a coach’s ability to listen actively and stay in the moment: Let us encourage the power to question anyone any anything. Give people a patient hearing. Let them introspect by asking questions out loud to themselves and to us. We can become better facilitator that way.

Questions break cycles, kill the mundane. As humans, we get into conditioning too often. It is easy to fall into the routine and become predictable. Powerful questions can stop the inner conversation from thinking in its usual way and suddenly you are thinking ‘outside’ the realm that you are used to.

Often times, management colleges teach something called "So What" analysis: You ask yourself "So What?" until you find the most logical answer.

Some coaching methodologies follow the “Socratic method” and derives its name from the ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates.He would continuously pose questions to his listeners to trigger thinking. Questioning continued until the listeners provided the most logical answer to a particular problem and discovery followed. The Socratic method of questioning led to people finding their underlying beliefs. One of the ways Socrates did this was to answer a question by turning the question into a statement and adding another question.

Could Sachin Tendulkar, an introvert, learn so much to be the master of the game, without asking questions?

Would all his questions be so profound every time or would he also have some irrevant, meaninless queries? Was he ever discouraged to ask those meaningless questions? Was his biggest strength ever to ask questions until he was satisfied? Did that lead to the enormous hunger he showed for cricket?

Food for thought.

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Good Cricketers are Good at Failing: Here's How to Emulate Them

How good are you at failing?

As a player and a coach, I have endured my fair share of failure. We all do. Failure is central to cricket's core. A bowler fails, a batter succeeds. The batter fails and the fielding side is happy. A duck is the ultimate batting failure. One team succeeds and one team fails.

The best batters in the world succeed once every three to four innings.

That's a 75% failure rate.

With these numbers and experiences in mind, how good are you at failing?


Failure: My story

As a player I had an "allergic reaction" to failure. I hated failing. I feared it and tried to avoid failure as much as I could. On being dismissed, I would walk quickly or even run off the field as I perceived getting out as being the worst thing I could ever do. I didn't want the crowd to witness my failure for any longer than I had to.

My head would drop significantly, often rendering me useless for my team mates if I ever dropped a catch or missed a stumping.

Whilst some players would use their words to try and cover up their poor performance - he always gets me out, I hate this umpire, this pitch is rubbish, I never score runs on this ground, that's just the way I play, it wasn't my fault, I was so unlucky - I would go down a route of self loathing and negativity about my game, particularly my batting game.

This ultimately was the main reason why I hit my head on the ceiling when I got to first class cricket.

Failure for a high performing cricketer

High performing players (and organisations) are more likely to view failure as

"essential to innovation which leads to higher performance".

With this attitude, failure tells us that something isn't working and that there is an alternative adaptation which will be more successful in the long run. So let's take a high performing player having a session on the bowling machine, drilling his ability to judge and execute his defensive game in and around off stump to a series of 80mph+ feeds.

The player finds that his movement and leaves are excellent when the ball drifts into a fifth stump line. Everything feels and spot on. The result is perfect. However, when the ball is on off stump, he finds that his movement is not as fluid. He feels that he pushes hard with his hands towards the ball and the net result is a combination of "jabby" defensive shots with little control and edges into the slip cordon at catchable height.

The player sees the failures as an excellent feedback tool showing that his present method is not standing up to the challenge. Therefore, he will now want to test some different ways of tacking the task. He is effectively looking to test some different approaches to see which one gives him the best sense of control and outcome against the most probing delivery in cricket.

The player will now try a number of methods, with each one failing to achieve the right result. Eventually, by a process of elimination, the player finds an approach that fits the purpose.

This attitude to failure is completely different to the one I displayed as player. But certainly more akin to the way that I perceive and learn from failure as a coach.

Lessons from high performing teams

As Dave Brailsford, the ever successful Head of Team GB/Team Sky Cycling Director - fresh from a fourth Tour de France victory - says

"every error, every flaw, however small, is a marginal gain in disguise. This feedback is not regarded as a threat but seen as an opportunity"

Toto Wolff, the Mercedes Formula 1 Team Executive Director states

"We make sure we know where we are going wrong, in order to get it right".

This approach looks likely to take his lead driver, Lewis Hamilton, to three consecutive Championships and his team to the same number of successive Team championships.

Where is the evidence that this works?

This is a cricketing snapshot demonstrating how failure and success are intrinsically linked. For a fuller picture I highly recommend looking at Matthew Syed's outstanding book "Black Box Thinking".

Remember: Cricket is a game of failure.

So as a player or as a coach can you afford not to be better at failing?

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Use the "Just in Time" Trick to be a Focused, Confident and Disciplined Cricketer

Have you ever wondered how you can turn a slump in form into feeling on top of the world in one ball?

Cricket Show S7 Episode 27: Bouncing Back

Mark Garaway, Sam Lavery and David Hinchliffe are joined by Khyati Gulani to talk about cricket. The show looks at the lessons from England's Test series with Pakistan before mving on to listener's questions.

The team talk about concentration while batting, women's cricket and preparing for three day cricket. "Tune" in to hear the coaching chat.


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: 422
Date: 2016-07-29