Pitchvision Academy


Fast bowling is always a hit topic here, so we take a look at some of the latest tips in increasing pace.

Plus, there are articles on better training, cricket psychology and using technology to improve skill.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Improve Your Fast Bowling Run Up Speed with These Drills

What do we want a fast bowler’s run up to achieve?

We already know from my last article that run up speed is a great way to bowl faster. So let’s look in more detail at the run up.

Keeping this fairly simple, we want a run up to get up to a high speed, achieving peak speed in the few steps preceding the take off.

This creates a jump that is longer than it is high.

From here, the landing must get your feet lined up in a manner that is neither closed off, nor significantly open.

Finally, and this one’s important, it must be repetitive.

To challenge how we run, we can progressively overload it in a variety of ways.

Line sprints

I do a lot of these throughout the year with the bowlers I work with. Very simply, it involves running from a standing start along a straight line (there are loads of these on any sports hall floor), until a top speed is achieved.

Fast bowlers will often say that if they run “too fast” they feel off balance or lose body control. But to become more comfortable at that speed, a bit of repetition and overloading the process can do wonders.

The aim of a line sprint is to achieve controlled acceleration towards a top speed. I challenge bowlers to retain their head directly above the line. Now this doesn’t mean every bowler should run in gun barrel straight. From their starting point toward the direction they’re looking to project the ball. Cutting through the take off, landing point, making one long straight line. After all some bowlers like to approach from an angle. And some may find that a small angle helps them align their base or their body in preparation for delivery.

However, I would say that the angle shouldn’t be too steep, and it would ideally be direct in itself. Too much angle and not enough of the speed being developed is moving towards the target. While any run up that isn’t direct is subject to greater variability (in my experience). Straighter lines are much simpler to repeat, manage and assess.

So let’s get on with challenging that run up.

After the simple line sprint I have a series of variables that bowlers can work through, initially without a delivery at the end of the run up, but once a bowler is able to retain body control with speed then they can bowl or throw whatever it is they’re carrying.


With a cricket ball in the bowling hand you move away from an athletic “sprint” style approach, driving the arms in straight lines, more towards a style that is less productive at generating speed and maintaining balance.

Use your arms to run, particularly accelerating.

You can also put a cricket ball in the non bowling hand.

A change such as this challenges balance and upper body / lower body synchronisation.

Other ways are:

  • Run with A med ball held in both hands. This stops their arms working, which immediately disrupts a bowlers balance
  • Run with a mini med ball in the bowling hand. I usually use a 600g ball. This is a great way to overload the bowlers control.
  • Run with a mini med ball in the non-bowling hand.
  • Under run. By reducing normal run up distance to 75% of usual approach, you’re forced into placing a greater emphasis on the acceleration phase and getting up to top speed sooner.
  • Over run. Extending the approach length to approximately 125%, you’re challenging a bowler to retain top speed for longer.

These are just a few of the ways I like to overload the approach process of a bowler, you can be creative and find any number of different options, depending on what it is you’re trying the challenge; acceleration, top speed or balance.

Below are a few other ways you can challenge your run ups.

  • Sled pulls
  • Bungee runs (pulling from behind for power, either side for balance, or in front for over speed and control)
  • Straight line bounds
  • Right foot hops accelerating up to a top speed and into the delivery stride
  • Left foot hops accelerating to a top speed at the point of take off

These are all different ways of developing that all important speed into take of, whilst keeping one eye on body control and balance throughout.

Never lose sight though of what we’re trying to achieve.

A high speed run up that is controlled and can be repeated over and over again. That allows the bowler to jump into a landing position where feet are well aligned.

Overloading anything will make it harder, and during the process using any of the above methods to challenge them, the quality of the delivery may appear to drop.

However, when we return to the less inhibited approach, we’ll hopefully start to reap the benefits of the overload.

Discuss this article with other subscribers

Better Batting Technique and Fielding Skill with Constrained Middle Practice

Middle - or centre wicket - practice is a powerful, realistic way to train to improve your game. Now we can make it even better.


Although, in making it better we have to make it slightly less realistic. Which seems a bit odd.

Bear with me and I will explain.

By the end of this article you will have a middle practice toolkit that will improve batting technique and produce better drilled fielders.

The power of constraints

“Constraints” is a bit of a buzz word in sports coaching at the moment. Although it has been around a while, it’s become popular recently with coaches and teachers looking for better ways to provided focused sessions.

It’s powerful stuff.

It works by taking away options and allowing you to focus on one specific element until you master it. It has certainly become a staple of the sessions I run across ages and in one-to-one, small and large groups.

It makes sense to extend the benefits to middle practice.

The problem with centre wicket practice

If you have ever tried middle practice, you know it’s brilliant but there can be issues with it:

  • It’s slow, so you get fewer balls bowled.
  • Fielders can find themselves doing very little.
  • There is a general lower intensity.

I have seen these issues many times first hand. They can all be handled by traditional middle practice and good coaching, but they be fixed by adding constraints.

Sometimes coaches call these variations Small Sided Games (SSG) or Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU). The name is not as important as the goal of the game.

So, let’s give you some practical examples of a constraints-led middle practice.

For all these sessions you will, obviously, need a cricket field with some kind of wicket in the middle. Nets are not allowed. Access to plenty of balls is useful.

You can see each on is based on a constraint. That is to say, you have to try to acheive a specific outcome with the ultimate aim of getting better.

1. Rotate the spinners

Set up middle practice with only close fielders and infielders. Only spinners bowl. Make sure you leave a gap or two for the batsman to try and hit.

Two or three batsmen try to rotate the strike by hitting into the gaps and getting up to the other end. Fielders try to prevent runs and get run outs.

You can keep score or have teams to make it competitive.

2. Hitting in the V

Set up middle practice with four fielders: deep mid on, deep mid off, extra cover and midwicket. Bowlers bowl in overs (or use throwdowns). It’s useful to have a player or two padded up who can collect stray balls.

Two batsmen can only score by hitting in “the V” (you can mark this with cones). They can score quick singles, hard run twos or boundaries, but only in the marked area.

Bowlers must try and bowl pitched up at the stumps. Balls that are too short or too wide are not counted.

You can keep score with pairs to see who does best, or just allow players to experiment with different ways of getting the ball through the target.

You can also use this practice for death hitting and yorker bowling exclusively.

3. Hitting square

This is a great middle practice for improving batting technique in square shots as the feed is usually short and wide. It’s even better for fielders square and behind on the off side.

Set up middle practice with a keeper, slips, point, cover and extra cover. As the feed is aimed to be short and wide, it’s best not to use bowlers for this. A coach with good sidearm skills is useful here, or use throwdowns.

Batsmen can only score by hitting square on the off side. They can score drop and run quick singles, hard run twos or boundaries, but only in the marked area. They can hit in other areas if the ball demands it. It’s useful to have a player or two padded up who can collect stray balls.

You can keep score with pairs to see who does best, or just allow players to experiment with different ways of getting the ball through the target.

You can also switch the fielders to the leg side and have batsmen work on cross bat shots like sweeping, rolling and pulling.

4. Through the gates

In this middle practice, batsmen have more freedom, but are still constrained enough to focus the mind.

Set up the session to have two to four “gates” marked around the field. Fielders are not allowed to field in, in front of or behind these gates, but can field anywhere else.

The batsmen can only score by hitting through the gates. Fielders can only field the ball after it has passed through the gate. Bowlers must try to bowl to prevent the ball being hit through the gate.

The gates can be setup anywhere and moved by the bowlers if they feel batsmen are finding it too easy.

What else?

I’m sure you can think of situations you want to practice that can use constrained middle practice too.

Drop us a comment with your thoughts and experiences and we can build better middle practice sessions for everyone!

Discuss this article with other subscribers

Cricket Show S8 Episode 5: Buzzword Busting

Mark Garaway, Sam Lavery and David Hinchliffe have a roundtable on cricket coaching. The team start by busting some modern terms in cricket like "environment", "intention" and "outcome".

Then questions are answered on captaining part time bowlers and coming back to cricket after a long time away.

Listen in for more.


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:

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.


Discuss this article with other subscribers

Coaching with Nicknames, Technology and Questions

Nicknames are funny things aren’t they? For me, they encapsulate a given time and a given place as you end up acquiring a number over a playing and coaching career.

Most people know me as “Garas”.

Does the Way You Play Cricket Make You A River or A Frozen Rope?

There are two types of cricketers: rivers and frozen rope. Which are you?



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.


Want Coaching?

Send to a Friend

Do you have a friend or team mate who would be interested in this newsletter? Just hit "forward" in your email program and send it on.

If you received this email from a friend and would like to get subsequent issues, you can subscribe here.


PitchVision Academy

irresistable force vs. immovable object

Thank you for subscribing to PitchVision Academy.
Read more at www.pitchvision.com


To unsubscribe eMail us with the subject "UNSUBSCRIBE (your email)"
Issue: 450
Date: 2017-02-17