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Settle down children, Sam Lavery has an epic tale of cricket form for us to read at bedtime! Turns out even great coaches like Lavers can learn from 14 year old cricketers.

Plus there are articles on rugby lessons, head coaching and batting basics.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Here's a Short Story About Cricket Form

In our recent podcast, the subject of form came up. I talked about a discussion with group of U14 cricketers at The Portsmouth Grammar School. I remember it started with a Hampshire cup semi-final match, I forget against who, but it went something like this...


“We should be able to win this one”, one of the boys said… “Chris and Tom are bang in form, Jack’s turning it square and the seamers have got good form at the moment as well… Me and Ollie aren’t in form right now, but the others are doing well enough, and we’ll be back in form by the final!”

It was nice to know he was so confident and that the game was clearly “in the bag”. As well as that come the final he’d be able to step up and dominate. But not yet, not today. He wasn’t ready, he wasn’t in form.

Thinking about what he’d said, I wanted to know more about why he thought that way. What he meant by form. And actually what anyone meant by form.

A few days after the game, which they did win as they’d predicted, I approached the subject. “Why are Chris and Tom doing so well as the top of the order? Why are the seamers having some success at the moment? And why has Jack gone for so few runs in the past couple of weeks?”

As you can imagine, the response came in droves.

“They’re all in form”

“When they’re in form they’ll win us the game. When some of the other lads are in form they’ll do it for us.”

“… It’s when no-ones in form that we’re in trouble.”

So it’s seemed that our entire season was hinging almost completely on the form of our players. I suppose that seems logical. Although perhaps a little tricky to control if we don’t know what form is.

But again, “What does that mean?" I asked.

“If we’re going to be in form, we need to work how to achieve form. And to work out how we achieve form, surely we have to understand what form actually is.”

So following a slightly disorganised group discussion, we came up with the following ideas:

  • Form is how well we’re playing at any time, or maybe better phrased, over a period of time that’s not too long. So being in form means we’re playing pretty well.
  • Good form requires having confidence or belief in your abilities.
  • Good form happens when getting your technical skills right.
  • Good form involves making the right decisions and /or, getting your tactics correct.

Now this is a group of under 14 cricketers, so by no means am I saying that what they’ve come up with is correct, or a conclusive list ideas. It’s just a few statements that meant something to them.

So now that we’d agreed on a few statements that suggested what form might be, I asked them to give a little more clarity to them and interpret how the 4 factors they’d decided on related to each other.

What they decided on was as follows:

  • Playing really well at a particular time is how they interpreted good form as an overall definition.

- Confidence, skills, and decisions or tactics, were the elements that made up this overall thing they call form.

This now started to give a bit of clarity around what we needed to get right if we wanted to be in form.

  • We needed to get good plans in place and understand how we apply them to a match situation.
  • We needed to practice our skills in training, to ensure that we were technically sound and striking or bowling the ball well.
  • We needed to prepare on a match day in such a way that our skills were functioning well on the day.
  • And hopefully having done all of the above to a good standard, this would assure us that we’re ready to perform, giving each other confidence and belief out on the field.

**Suddenly anyone who wasn’t in form had some direction as to how they could get into form. **

While those who were in form, had a good idea about how they could extend it for as long as possible.

Again, what the group came up with wasn’t necessarily right or wrong.

But importantly it removed a big cloud of confusion that covered this term that was being used on a daily basis, and was also being made responsible for success or failure.

With a view to controlling our own successes, players could have a positive feeling of influencing their performances and form. Whilst the defensive shield of “I’m not in form so I can’t do anything about it, or, it doesn’t matter”, was taken away.

Again, passing the responsibility back to the individual to control their own form and performances.

Finally we can up with quite a nice little equation which is a reminder for how they manage their own performance levels and form (if we want to keep using this term).

Form = (Technical skills + Decisions) x Confidence

Sure, as a piece of mathematics, it’s probably bordering on idiotic. However, as a representation of how we can perform better, and improve our form, to this groups it means something.

Simply allowing them to pinpoint which area on the right side of the equation needs to be improved, and then getting to it.

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Confusion Creates Leadership: What Rugby Teaches Cricket

I’m lucky enough to work alongside some Rugby people every now and again and it has been a massive privilege to get to know many of the World’s best rugby players and coaching minds through my role in “Our Legend” holidays and events.


One of my rugby mates hit headlines in last weekend’s 3rd round of the 6 Nations Rugby tournament. The brilliant and innovating Italy Coach, Conor O’Shea.

Conor has only been with Italy for a few months but in that time has overseen a fantastic victory against South Africa and this week headed up the coaching team that came up with the tactic which rendered all the England players completely helpless for a full 40 minutes.

Exploiting loopholes

The “cat amongst the pigeons” tactic came when the Italian tackling player rolled away and his fellow players chose not to contest the conventional ruck area. This effectively allowed the Italian half-backs to stand in what would have been “offside positions” blocking the normal distribution routes of the England scrum half.

England were clueless, arguing between themselves, making mistakes as their frustration built and England went into the half time break with a 5-point deficit.

Some people criticised Italy for ruining the game.

For me, their coaching staff had found a gap in the rules then built a strategy: The players then executed it perfectly. Great work.

Adaptable leadership

The Italian approach also opened up a crack in this present England team. Their lack of leadership on the field.

England Coach, Eddie Jones alluded to this back in the Autumn Internationals. At that point he challenged his squad to develop some internal leadership in different positions on the field.

Jones fears were well placed as only James Haskell showed any initiative and leadership qualities at all by asking the referee about the relevant law. Dylan Hartley seemed clueless as captain and the other England players failed to come up with a strategy to cope with the Italian approach.

England only got back on track during half time when Eddie Jones and his coaches fed the players a counter-strategy at half time. The forwards then adopted a pick and go approach attacking central gaps rather than down the fringes of the conventional ruck-area.

England did this well in the 2nd half of the match but the lack of on-field speed of thought and leadership was startling. If they were playing against an out-of-the-box thinking New Zealand or Australian XV then the points gap at half-time could well have been 15 points and the game finished as a contest.

Jones will have to work hard to identify and develop some spontaneous on-field leaders if he is to reach his 2019 World Cup winning goal.

“What if” cricket sessions

It’s so much fun creating “what if” sessions.

These are particularly good in middle practices where you can create “randomness” with harsh umpire calls decisions, “dodgy” Duckworth Lewis calculations that swiftly shift the nature of the scenario, the fielding side being restricted to only seven or eight fielders, making bowlers bowl with wet cricket balls or using old soft balls that don’t go anywhere off the bat nor feel good in the hand.

These are a few examples of “what if’s”. You can make up and drop in heaps of your own to see how your players react.

All of these “what if” variables create challenging situations that require spontaneous thought, strategy and action from players.

Effective review after the practices will help to develop connected decision making and create leaders all over the pitch.

Im sure that Eddie Jones will start applying random “what if” events into practices to see how his team react in the spur of the moment.

Is it worth you brewing up your own “What If” list to create leaders and help your team to deal with random events far better than the present England Rugby Team.

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Cricket Show S8 Episode 7: Stop Just Bowling

Mark Garaway, David Hinchliffe and Sam Lavery get together for cricket banter and coach chat.

This week there is a good discussion on helping bowlers at nets do more than "just bowl". Then questions from listeners are answered. The topics on the table are batting backlift (or back swing) and staying on your toes while you field.

Listen for the deets!


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Pujara Proves Cricket is About World-Class Basics

Cheteshwar Pujara is a throwback, but he proves beyond doubt that cricket is about a relentless thrust towards doing the basics at a world-class level.

The Keys to Effective Head Cricket Coaching

Below is a guide for cricket coaches, explaining simple ways as to how you can become a more effective Head Coach.


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: 452
Date: 2017-03-03