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I'm going to be honest, there is a LOT of reading in this newsletter, and a LOT of gold!

If you don't have much time in the coming week, this is certainly not the newsletter for you. However, if you want to learn a huge amount about player management, coaching, bowling and teamwork, then settle down with your favourite beverage and enjoy!

Have a great weekend (and Christmas if you are celebrating),

David Hinchliffe

The Modern Cricket Coach's Guide to Managing Players

Managing players used to be easy didn’t it?

Not any more.

 These days you can’t move for all the admin you have to do to keep things running smoothly.

You’re not alone. Everyone involved in the game - coaches, captains and administrators - have so much to do that feeling overwhelmed is commonplace.

Time for a system.

Getting organised

When most people want to get organised they sit down with the mess and decide to work through it until it’s done.

That’s great, but wouldn’t it be much better to avoid the mess in the first place? We need the cricket equivalent of doing the washing up as you go along.

So, ask yourself, what does player management actually mean?

Clearly, this is specific to how you coach. A club coach has different needs to, say, a county academy coach. Players still need to be managed in both cases, but the level of complexity and detail will vary.

So write down what needs to be managed. This could be any or all of,

  • Availability
  • Runs, wickets and other key stats
  • Cricket skill development
  • Strength and conditioning
  • Bowling workload
  • Reviews and reflections
  • Communication with other coaches and parents
  • Videos and PitchVision data

You also need to write down what happens outside your “bubble”.

Players these days are exposed to a lot of coaches and others influencing their game. You may need to know where you draw the line over what you are managing. For example, a talented young player will be playing for three or four teams over a summer alongside parental influence. Do you want input and management at all these levels?

Once you know this, you can build your system so it covers your needs. A basic level might perhaps just want to know who is available and how they did on the pitch. More advanced or ambitious levels can add more areas to track.

Whatever you decide, the basics are the same, which is to say,

  1. Capture what’s on your mind.
  2. Clarify why it’s important.
  3. Put it in the right place.
  4. Review things regularly.
  5. Take action where needed.

This is the five steps of David Allen’s Getting Things Done system and works like a charm at putting things in the right place to get them done at the right time. If you need more detail, I highly recommend you buy the book to get the whole system. However regardless of whether you use the full system or not, we will come back to the five steps later, so take note.

Next let’s look at more granular details of the system.

Motivation and availability

Almost every system needs a way of knowing if players are available to play or not.

This can also be extended to attendance at training sessions. Additionally, most systems could benefit from a softer skilled way of keeping people motivated (and keep being available).

In the old days availability was a sheet in the clubhouse, a word to the coach or, at worst, a phone call. You can still do this but modern communication has made it far easier. You can use one of many apps or messaging tools that work online or mobile to corral your players in time for selecting your best eleven.

Plus, online tools are much better at keeping in touch with players and helping them feel in the loop.

For example, a player might be demotivated if he trains all the time but is rarely selected. With the right approach, the player can be informed about both why they are not getting a regular game and also what they needs to do to change the situation.

We know from research that people are better motivated when they are informed than when they are in the dark, so this trick is super helpful.

What’s the best tool for this?

Every team will be different so there is no single answer.

You need to work out what people are prepared to do to let you know their availability. Messaging can be very difficult if everyone uses different ways to stay in touch with each other. On the other hand, if the whole team use one system already you can easily intergrate.

One of the most complete answers is PitchVision’s Portal. This web service and mobile app gives you cricket-specific messaging with single players and groups.

Now everyone has a smartphone, players can advise availability and discuss selection through the app, or on the web.

The Portal also has the benefit of being tied into other areas of players cricket, like match performances and playing/training videos. This makes motivation a lot easier. You can point to hard numbers and videos to help you stay in touch with everyone regularly which helps them feel loved and important.

Performance and enjoyment

Beyond the participation level, things quickly start to get complicated. We move into levels of performance analysis.

This can be as detailed as you want, but it is important even at lower levels because striving for improvement leads to increased enjoyment of the game. Enjoyment leads to greater retention at every level from beginner juniors to full professionals.

To work out what level of performance management you need, it’s important to go back to the five steps.

Specifically answering the question, “what’s on your mind?”.

Anything that you find is on your mind regularly needs working through.

Say, tracking player’s technical development is important to you, but in the past you have only ever done it by eyeballing and looking at runs or wickets. You want to upgrade things because it’s important.

The next step (step three in the five steps) are to plan to take your camera to nets and plan the session so you can film players techniques batting and bowling. Once you have taken this action, the next action is to take time to analyse the videos and provide feedback. You’ll probably need to do this regularly if you want to see improvements over time.

You can see how moving through the five steps brings a feeling of control and clarity to a big job.

If you like the idea of this but find the job time consuming, you can make things easier with some automation.

PitchVision’s PV/ONE system captures videos for each player automatically in short clips, then uploads them to your Portal for simple analysis, communication and review. Of course as coach you still need to make your key points - that’s never going to be automated - but the boring parts of editing, cutting, uploading and allocating to the right players are all automatic.

Time saved makes it more likely you can do these performance tasks.

The same applies to other aspects of performance.

Modern coaches can track mental toughness, strength and conditioning, and bowling workload over time. Your needs may be to have all of these or none of them.

If in doubt, go back to the question of if it’s on your mind or not. If it is, get your system in place to manage this by going through the five steps.

Reflection and review

Another area that covers every level is the review process.

Although reflection is not new to many cricket players, it is relatively new to make it a formal part of coaching. Yet, it’s now seen as crucial to development for everyone from seniors down to beginners.

It is a well researched method to go over your performance, work out what was good, how you can do more, and what was different.

For a full discussion on review, click here.

Despite the clear benefits, review is often overlooked. One of the biggest barriers to doing reviews is a lack of a systematic approach.

The more serious the cricket, the more likely formal reviews, but they can be time consuming and off-putting for many in the game. Having coached young club players for many years, I can assure you that the prospect of a post-game review in a cold April evening at an away game miles from home is a huge barrier unless there is a system in place!

At training it’s a little easier to review by chatting with the coach after a session, but if there are a lot of players this can easily be lost.

So, step one is to decide if improving reviews is on your mind and important. (Those five steps strike again).

If it is important and you want to build a review system, technology comes to the rescue by making a systematic approach easy.

  • Use group chat functions of mobile apps to encourage team reviews.
  • Send players their stats from games to act as a starting point for reflection.
  • Send players videos of training to discuss technical or other points.

There are many ways to do this of course, but again PitchVision’s Portal keeps it all in one place and gives players instant access to reflection through the web or mobile app on Android and iPhone. As you can imagine, this not only provides a systematic approach to review, but also encourages player-led reflection.

Plus, we get the benefits of automation.

With all a players videos, data and stats in one place and on a timeline, you can add comments and discussion points at exactly the right moment. The player can reflect too, with no messing about across multiple platforms and apps.

Work through the five steps with these solutions in mind and you’ll have a better handle on your review process in no time.

Other coaches and parents

Another increasingly important aspect is the involvement of others in the management process.

If we think back to the old days again we remember times where the involvement of others was not very important. Players would play and train, get some coaching, learn some things and vanish until the next time.

These days things are different. Management is essential because,

  • Players have multiple coaches with different philosophies, levels of skill and qualification.
  • Players need to avoid being bowled into injury or doing the wrong kind of S&C work.
  • Parents want to know what advice their kids are getting.
  • Coaches want to make sure they are not offering advice that contradicts each other.

This is the most difficult part to pull off well. Something will always slip through the gaps. The key is having players who are very skilled at processing and analysing advice from different sources. Not every coaching tip will be well thought out or well delivered. If players are able to assess for themselves then the need for central control is removed.

Yet, it’s also nice to know you are at least trying to gather it all. As players move up levels it’s increasingly useful to have better checks and balances. So how do you do that?

One size can never fit all.

You may have noticed this is the overall message of this article!

With enough dedication you could do it with one coach at the centre managing everything. What’s easier is a central database like the PitchVision Portal. Here players, coaches and parents can feed everything into one place and everyone important can see what is happening.

Yet again, it’s automation that leads to greater control and speed and allows more coaches to manage players in more detail than ever before.

So if this aspect is important, you can use the five steps to put a central system in place using technology and automate it as much as possible to save time.

Summary: More for less

As you have seen, the benefits of player management are great, and the barriers to doing it are being lowered by technology.

You still need to decide how much time and energy you can devote to management, but with the right tools and automation you can get so much more done in the same time.

So, choose your level, build your system and get to work with your players. Improved performances are waiting for you to take action.

If you were tempted by the PitchVision Portal as your solution, contact PitchVision for details and pricing.

Discuss this article with other subscribers

What Makes 11 Individuals into a Great Team?

Cricket doesn’t need perfect teamwork to win games, but it certainly helps and is certainly a goal worth striving for. Here are some tips.

Teamwork is a tricky thing. It’s not easy to measure or analyse. There is no direct relationship between a bonded team and success. Different approaches work for different groups. It’s messy.

There is no simple template for a great team.

Nevertheless, there are some things that help bond a team together in the right way (that is to say, helping to win more games of cricket). So let’s take a whistle-stop tour of this complex world and give you some practical ways to improve your team.

Focus on the job

Teams can be great in two ways: socially and through cricket. While the two are linked, you can certainly have one without the other. We all know the terrible teams that are famous for their after-match hospitality, and the one who smash all-comers but barely speak to each other off the pitch.

If you want a team who are good on the pitch first, then focus on the task first too.

You might also want to be social, and have plenty of banter. That’s great, it’s a crucial part of cricket: You can blend both and still win games, but the buddy-buddy atmosphere always comes after actually doing the job.

So, how do you do that?

  • Know your role in the team, and know the role of others. Be as clear as you can about who is supposed to do what, and trust that they will do it.
  • If someone struggles to do their job, work together to help that person improve until they can do it well. Never blame someone for failing, always ask how you can help turn it around.
  • Focus on things you can control to improve. Never make excuses about umpiring, conditions or things out of your control as a reason to hide. Instead, ask what more you need to do to improve.

One thing that helps a lot of people to focus on roles is clear stats targets. For example, you might ask a middle overs bowler to keep the run rate down, give them a target of dot balls to bowl and work with them to develop this skill through improving accuracy.

This way everyone knows what everyone else is doing, can see if it is working or not, then work together to fix any issues.

Improve or prove?

One of the big pitfalls of a task focus is that it encourages people to constantly try and prove themselves against each other in the team. When you net you are desperate to do well and terrified of failing. When you walk out to bat you pray not to do anything stupid today in case others judge your ability.

As you have already realised, the problem with this mentality is that it puts you under pressure to succeed. If you fail you are not good enough. It makes you blame yourself and discourages you. Why try if you are not good enough?

For that matter, why try if you are already too good? Isn’t trying too hard a sign of someone who isnt a natural talent anyway?

Good teams are built on a different mentality: They are focused on improving each other rather than proving how good they are.

This is a far better long term plan because you don’t have to rely on star players with exceptional ability. You are instead slowly building up everyone’s strengths and - over time - becoming a more honed unit.

(Studies have show that most sports teams need about five years together to bond well.)

Of course, let’s not undermine star players. They make immediate and clear impacts on a team with runs and wickets. They might win trophies with sheer talent.

But if they leave after a year or two, what then?

None of your existing team has grown. The old members might even have left as they try to prove themselves against the expectional standards of the departing star and realise they are not up to scratch. You end up in a far worse position unless you keep bringing in new stars.

But here’s the clever thing, you can have stars and focus on growth if you so it right.

So, wherever you are now, focus on growing each other together as a team,

  • Use training to try new things, fail at them and enjoy the challenge of overcoming them.
  • Spend time working towards improving others. Individuals have unique views and strengths and there is always something you can do to help a team mate.
  • Set the highest possible standards and don’t accept anything less from each other than the hardest you can try.
  • Stamp hard on excuses and refocus on the task.
  • Know that losing games or performing poorly is not proof of your talent individually or as a team. If you lose, work out why. Then, get to work stopping it happening again by removing the flaw.

Good teams have an infectious enthusiasm and enjoy their success.

Really good teams also are enthusiastic about dealing with the bad as much as enjoying the success. That’s the difference between proving and improving.

Own your disagreements

There is no such thing as a perfectly harmonious team. Every side, top of the league or wooden spoon holders, has conflicts.

It’s so pervasive, and so different in intensity between teams that there is no relationship between winning and harmony. That said, one common trait between successful teams is their ability to not let conflicts get in the way of the task.

And that’s the secret to dealing with disagreements.

If you argue like cats and dogs, but walk out onto the field and all do your job to the highest standard, you will be successful.

If you can barely exchange words in the changing rooms but leave everything behind at the door and go to training, give each other throw downs, offer technical advice and do every crazy fielding drill the coach offers with passion and effort, you will be successful.

If you never have an argument, but are unclear on your roles and train to prove rather than improve, you are on a road to failure.

Naturally, these are the extremes. Most teams get along well most of the time. Every team has at least the odd conflict too. The trick is knowing the impact of the fight on the team.

Most of the time, the simple answer is to deal with it individually. You might disagree over something, but it’s not having an impact on the team so accept it, move on and remember life and people are rich, complex, wonderful and infuriating all at once.

If it’s more than that, weigh up the cost against the benefit.

Perhaps you have a player who takes a big bunch of wickets every year but also turns up late, dislikes the captain’s tactical decisions and refuses to help others in training. Others in the team grumble about their special dispensation because of their ability on the pitch. That player is causing an issue.

The player is certainly focused on the task and are doing an important job for the team. They are also not stopping anyone else do their job. No problem there. People just need to stop grumbling and accept that’s what you may get with some characters.

Naturally, you can try and help the player understand that being on time is important, but you also dont want to turn it into a distracting battle of egos.

More concerning is the mindest at training. If you don’t help others grow, you are negatively impacting on the team. Perhaps not in the short term, but these things eventually come out. It’s here a good team will find that unacceptable. The coach, captain, senior players or all of the above need to quickly work with the player to get to the root of the problem and find a way to help them become more helpful at sessions.

It may even take a simple word from the captain, “come on mate, you have had a long bowl, how about you give Jim some throwdowns for 10 minutes to help him out. You’ll appreciate it when you have better scores to bowl at!”

The point is this; pick your battles carefully based on the good of the task, and not the social or ego-based factors.


  • Success does not require team work, but it helps.
  • Good teams are task focused
  • Good teams have a growth mindset
  • Team harmony is impossible, so accept some conflict and pick your battles.

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What Do You Get When You Combine Dehydration with an Airline Pilot and a Chinese Philosopher?

Confucius was a Chinese teacher, editor, politician, and philosopher. I bet he was a decent coach too! He knocked around the Lu State in China and passed away in 479 BC.


One of his greatest sayings that still resonates today:

“Tell people and they may forget, show them and they may remember but involve them and they will understand”

I annoyingly catch myself saying “I don’t know what’s wrong with him as I have told him to do this, not that!” this has happened in the last couple of weeks on tour in India too.

Sorry kids!

Confucius would have had a field day on me! That’s pretty much useless coaching if you look at his amazing quote above and I need to keep his words in the forefront of my mind going forward if I am want keep getting better as a coach.

However, by complete chance, and through an amazing conversation with one of the Millfield Parents in Mumbai, I actually did the last two elements of the quote as well.

Showing and involving.

Millfield U16s had a poor start against the very organised MIG Academy last Friday. MIG is Sachin Tendulkar’s club in Mumbai and it’s a great spot if you are ever in that neck of the woods.

We bowled first, the ball swung around corners and our seamers leaked wides all over the place. Our U14 Keeper, Jamie, had been ill over night but was determined to play in the game. The heat kept rising and I eventually convinced Jamie that the shade of the pavilion, some electrolytes and water were a far better option.

As I walked around the ground trying to gee everyone up, a thought came into my head.

Why don’t I go on and keep wicket?

We could get some enthusiasm going, get the ball thudding back into my gloves every ball at 90%, I could ensure that we had the right fielders on the right lines and angles.

What an amazing idea!

So at next drinks break (114–2 off 17 Overs) on I trotted. I got the consent of the brilliant MIG coach and umpires and then started to put on Jamie’s keeping kit.

As I put Jamie’s keeping pads on I realised that I was in trouble.

They were shin pad size, even on my legs! I squeezed my hands into his boy sized keeping gloves, minus keeping inners (they simple wouldn’t fit) and I tried to move my fingers and hands in the way that I did many moons ago.

Naturally, I chose to get on with it and proceeded to drop a thick edge standing up on the 4th ball; sorry Max.

I kept shouting encouragement, kept my body language strong and hoped that no one had noticed.

We got a wicket five balls later and the boys made sure that they got stuck into me in the huddle!

Three minutes later, Ikey picked up his first wicket of the tour and then Max got another two.

Ben came onto bowl his first over ever as an off-spinner. Another edge.


Sorry fella!

100% failure rate behind the stumps from Coach Garas.

Then two more wickets went down and we were flying! The boys were turning the game around, the body language was excellent, the energy high even in 35C heat.

The last four overs were brilliant, the seamers came on and did a great job. Kasey in particular mixed up his bouncer, Yorker and slower ball very well. One lad got 40 for MIG and tried to “Ramp” Kasey over my head. The ball clipped the edge of the bat and flew to my right.

The ball hit the end of my fingers and went to 3rd man.

Three drops from three chances!


Last ball of the innings, another Kasey bumper was hooked straight up. I call for the ball just as it goes directly into the huge Indian sun.

I next saw the ball about five feet from my hands and fortunately had relaxed enough and kept a cool head. A slight redemption. I was now one catch from four chances

We bowled MIG out in the 40th over for 205. The last 8 wickets falling for 99 runs in 23 Overs.

Despite dropping three catches, I loved it.

On the bus after the game I sat next to Graham, Kasey dad. A great man and a top Airline pilot. He spoke to me about how brilliant it was to see the way that I changed the approach of the day when keeping wicket, how the fielders then had a focal point for their efforts and how they seemed to understand angle, line and depth when setting and adapting fields.

Graham likened the scene that he saw in front of him to his experience when working in flight simulators with his flight coaches. They stop the simulator and discuss what’s going on around them, then adapt and perform to a enhanced level as a result of this practice method.

Aviation is an incredible business to study and there are lots of things that coaches can learn from adapting aviation practice into cricket training and playing contexts.

So there and then Graham and I came up with a training plan for the summer.

Matthew Thompson (Assistant Coach at Millfield and Devon CCC wicket keeper) and myself are are both glovemen. We are going to both keep wicket in centre wicket practices when our normal keepers are batting. We will drive the fielding unit from the middle of the ground.

We will show the players exactly what we want to happen and how we want it to happen whilst involving them in that process at the same time.

Hitting the last two parts of that Confucius quote.

The boys were brilliant in the second half of the MIG innings. They responded well. But the most impressive thing of all was how the returning Jamie and the team performed in the next two matches after that MIG experience.

Jamie grew as a wicket keeping presence in the field. After watching me orchestrate the field and demand the ball throughout my 23 overs, he started to do the same in our games vs GCS and Hindi Gym.

The players reacted to him well.

They stood on the right lines, were precise with their depth and angle and hit Jamie with 90% intensity throws from the inner ring. It was incredible to watch that fielding unit develop in front of my eyes!

We can get lazy as coaches and choose only to “tell”.

Can you follow this lead by showing and involving to develop players memory and understanding just as the Great Chinese “coach” says?

Give it a go!

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Bowling Tactics: How to "Bowl Dry"

Frustration: An underrated way to get wickets, and enormously effective at any level. In recent years, this has been called “squeezing” or “bowling dry”.

How do you bowl dry this way?

Cricket Show S7 Episode 48: What We Learned in 2016

Sam Lavery, Mark Garaway and David Hinchliffe roundtable coaching and playing cricket. The chat starts by talking about what was learned in 2016 (still time for anything else?). Then the team move on to talking about the sweep shot - when to play it - and facing slow, seam bowling. It's harder than you think!

Listen in for the tips, tricks and stories.


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: 442
Date: 2016-12-23