Pitchvision Academy


Do you feel the need for speed? Bowl faster, throw harder, be a better player. That's the story of this newsletter.

Plus, we delve into the fresh idea of a "pre-mortem". Will you try it?

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Bowl Faster: Brace the Front Leg

One of the most common pieces of advice from top bowling coaches is to learn to "brace the front leg". But that's a technical term, and it's not obvious to everyone what it means, or how to do it. So, here are more details about how and why you brace the front leg to bowl fast.

Why brace the front leg?

Two words: Pole vault.

A pole vaulter generates enough power and energy to get over a bar five or six metres in the air. Much higher than a high jumper. The difference is the pole, which is used to brace against the ground after a run up, put energy through the pole and lever the athlete high in the air.

You don't have a pole and you don't need to be flipped, but you do have a leg and you need to get energy into a ball. The straighter you leg, the longer your lever and the more power into the ball. So, by keeping your front leg straight when it lands, you are creating energy. It looks a bit like this:

Why a braced front leg is an advantage

The idea is becoming more popular in coaching - thanks in no small part to Ian Pont - but it's still not standard practice. That means many players learn how to bowl without ever being told to brace the front leg for improved pace with no loss of accuracy.

In fact, there are even professional bowlers who don't brace the front leg. Even very quick bowlers, who often use other methods such as upper body power to bowl fast.

However, chances are you will bowl faster whatever you method if you brace. This is a huge advantage for you can get an extra yard of pace if you can learn the skill well. You may or may not become a 150kph bowler just by bracing, but you will certainly get quicker and you won't lose accuracy. This is true, even if you have an established action with a bent front knee.

How to brace the front leg when bowling

The first step is to check if you knee bends when your front foot lands. If it does, you need to do some work. So, get yourself on video from the side and see for yourself.

If you do need to brace, this skill is difficult to learn. It's especially tough if your action is well set. It feels "wrong" when you try it. It may even feel like you are going to damage your knee by locking it. This feeling won't last long if you persevere. Don't let it put you off.

Take some time to try bracing your front leg (also called the front foot block) from standing still. You don't even need to bowl a ball. Get a feel for that braced leg in a still position first. It takes more time for some than others but everyone gets it. Then you can try walking it through slowly and building it up to a jog then full speed. You can see the full drill progression here.

For some, this will come easily and you will see an uptick in speed. For others it takes more time but with effort you can get there and add speed whatever your starting point.

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How Thinking About Failure will Make You a Better Cricketer

Your team has the perfect plan, honed over years of experienced and matched perfectly to your skills.

Nothing can go wrong.


Then you lose anyway. It happens.

Afterwards, the painful post-mortem begins.

We have all sat in the changing rooms after a defeat looking at the floor while the coach or captain - sometimes both - declare a lack of commitment, ability to stick to the plan or a million other things. Reasons are given, excuses are made.

Sometimes even blame is handed out.

It’s always horrible, even when it’s well run.

Save the pain with a pre-mortem

The problem with these post-lost reviews is they are always done at a time when the pain is fresh. It’s easy to want to block it out and move on. It’s easy to make excuses and not really improve as a result.

Managers in business suffers from the same problem when work projects fail. And they have come up with a solution that allows them to spot failures before thay happen, and make it possible to sidestep them.

It’s called a pre-mortem.

It’s the opposite of a wince-inducing post-mortem and is simple to do. So wouldn’t you like a 30% boost in your ability to spot failures too?

Here’s how you do it.

How to do a cricket pre-mortem

Before a season, match or important group of games, get together with your team. It doesn’t have to be everyone, but it should be a substantial group.

It’s the before part that is important.

Next the captain or coach leads in with the team’s tactics. You might already know the overall plan, but review it quickly so everyone is clear. Then the captain asks everyone to imagine the plan has totally failed. It was spectacular in its failure, you were not even close.

With a pen and paper independently, everyone writes down every reason they can think of for this imaginary failure. The reasons might be things in your control, like bowling poorly after a late night the day before. The reasons might be things out of your control like a highly skilled opponent playing the innings of the season.

This is powerful because everyone has the freedom to talk about failures without blaming, or seeming like you’re not a team player. You can’t blame people for things that have not happened yet!

With all the reasons recorded, you can start to discuss them.

Say, then plan is to score at four an over in the first 10 overs of a club one day game. The failure projected is the openers look to rotate the strike and get out through poor judgement of quick singles or getting bowled or LBW trying to play the ball into gaps across the line. Then the middle order feel restricted and slow the scoring rate to focus on not getting out.

You see how you are looking at problems before they occur?

So now, with these issues in mind the group can discuss solutions to this failure before it happens.

You could reduce the scoring rate to focus on only hitting the bad balls and not worrying about rotation early on. You could get your openers to play in middle practice and strike rotation until they are confident they can get up to four an over, even under pressure. You could even pick more attacking players up top.

Then get to work.

Talk about nipping things in the bud. There isn’t even a bud to nip and you are on the road to sorting the problem out.

What’s your experience?

How good are you at finding the reason for failure as a team?

How do you handle reviews? Have you had exeperience with bad reviews, good reviews or pre-mortems?

Leave a comment and let me know your process, and how effective it has been.

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Coach Players to High Speed Throws with this Drill

How do we increase someone’s throwing speed in a safe fashion?


It’s a combination of technical refinement, physical conditioning and a few special drills. One of these special drills is the long toss.

Two fielders play “throw and catch” with each other starting close to each other before slowly working their way apart.

Stretching out phase

The fielders only increase the distance of the throw when their arms tell them that they are ready to move.

Good throwers learn to “listen to their arms” rather than hurling the ball until an injury starts to occur.

The two fielders throw the ball on an arc, or loop, as they work their way apart from each other. The fielders are not throwing hard; they are throwing in a “loose and easy” fashion even though they are throwing the ball a good distance.

This is called the stretching out phase: The fielders move apart until they feel that they are at their “loose and easy” maximum distance.

Pulldown or strengthening phase

At this point fielders then start to throw “flat” on their way back in. This stage is really testing out the capacity of the arm.

This is where sparks start to fly off the back of the ball!

After six pulldown throws they have moved from boundary to inner ring territory and with practice, can throw perfectly flat from 30 yards (27.43m) into each other’s catching mits.

The Alan Jaeger video

Have a look at this awesome video of baseball pitchers, yes, pitchers undertaking the drill.

Note how Alan Jaeger uses tubing in his warming up to throw programme (rather than throwing to warm up) ahead of actually letting the ball go in anger.

This process is based on sound scientific research and monitoring.

Surgical tubing exercises are brilliant. They are one of the best habits that all aspiring Jonty Rhodes should develop ahead of throwing based work.

Notice that the fielders start slow and easy as they work their way back to 360 feet (or 110 meters) in the stretching out phase of the drill.

Once the throwers have reached their easy throwing limit they then start throwing flat in the pulldown phase as they move back together.

Alan Jaeger has established that someone who can throw an “arc” ball to his mate 110 metres away has the strength in both his arm and his throwing action to deliver a flat ball over 18.44 metres at 97mph!

Now that’s a decent lick!

Our own long toss drill

2016 was the start of the Millfield throwing programme which included our version of the long toss drill.

Some of the U14 players were “arcing” 65 metre throws with relative ease by the end of the summer term.

We are now seeing throwing speeds in this group of 73 to 75mph. This is pretty impressive in players so young.

Cricketers can presently only dream about throwing at baseball velocities. Maybe with a bit more long toss practice we will see cricket fielders of the future running out batters with 90mph+ throws.

Now that would represent massive progress within our game: Possibly the biggest gain net gain ever seen in the history of cricket!

The biggest bonus is that the drill takes no more than 10 minutes from start to finish and can be done independently by teammates around a squad net practice. How cool is that!

Give it a go with a friend for a few weeks and see how your throw picks up velocity as well as your arm becoming increasingly robust and strong.

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How to Become a Professional Cricket Coach

PitchVision runs a lot of jobs for cricket coaches for clubs, schools and other organisations. How do you ensure you get the role?

How to Bowl Faster... as a Spinner

Let's talk about a dirty little secret of spin: Pace matters.

As a spinner you don't have any need to get the ball up the other end as fast as you can. You leave that to the real quick bowlers. But you also know there is a speed that is right for spin.


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: 436
Date: 2016-11-04