Pitchvision Academy


Some tips and tricks for coaches lead the way, with some great ideas for players too. Something for everyone!

Mark Garaway has a great drill for batsmen and we look at using the crease to cause problems to bowlers. Plus there is the "Enjoyment Time Out" from a PE teachers, and ways to be a mentor from Tom Scollay.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Want Better Cricket Training Sessions? Try the Enjoyment Time Out

Unless you are very lucky, you will have coached a cricket session with a problem: Lack of focus.


Players who lose focus on the session don’t enjoy it, and they don’t improve. Even worse, some players actively try to disrupt the session by distracting others or refusing to take part.

I have even seen adults act like this in the heat of the moment, so what chance have you got with a group of unruly 15 year old boys who can’t put their phones down?

Don’t fear, there is a solution.

The cricket enjoyment veto

This idea was first proposed by the Drowing in the Shallows website, run by a UK-based Physical Education teacher.

It’s brilliant.

If you coach cricket at almost any level from beginners to highly-skilled adults you should give it a go.

The “enjoyment time out” is aimed at giving responsibility for players to their own enjoyment. As a consequence it gives them responsibility for their own development and their own focus.

If anyone in the session - at any time - wasn’t enjoying themselves, they get to call a time out.

  1. Player calls a time out.
  2. Player clearly explains the reason why they are not enjoying the practice
  3. The group comes up with some ways to change the game or drill to make it more fun.
  4. Put the new game into action.
  5. Afterwards, review the new drill and decide if it was both fun and worked to improve skills.

That’s it!

I got 99 problems

Can you hear the dissenting voices to this idea?

Don’t worry, you are not alone. There are plenty of reasons why this might fail: Kids might use it as a reason to stop every two minutes. The drill might lose it’s original reason. You can spend more time arguing than playing cricket.

I get it.

The real reason for most coaches will not be any of the above. It will be fear of handing over control to someone else.

The coach has worked hard. They have made a plan and they know how to manage a group of players. They don’t trust the kids to do the right thing.

I want to challenge that idea.

But more important that the challenge is a call to say; give it a go.

What’s the worst that can happen?

Lose one session to the experiment then you go back to your trusted way. That’s worth it because it also might work to make the session more fun, focused and developmental.

So let’s go back to the logic.

I think this method is powerful because it puts power in the hands of players. They might mess it up, they might nail it. Whatever happens, the session is all about the players and their learning, not the coach and their brilliant drills.

We already know that self-sufficient cricketers are better. Handing over control in this way is a great way to encourage responsibility. Let’s go for it!

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Four Ways to Use Your Crease to Upset Bowlers

When a bowler is in rhythm they are in control, so it’s your job as a batsman to find ways to disrupt that balance.


Mostly bowlers find ways to do it to themselves, but you can have an influence in the right circumstances. One simple way to do that is by moving around your crease.

But you have to do it right, so here are four ways to do it, alongside the reasons to get your toes twinkling:

1. Get out of your crease

Moving out of your crease is an aggressive move that upsets the seam bowler’s length. A good length ball is now a half volley. A yorker is a full toss that you can dispatch anywhere on the park.

It also makes LBW a lot harder to get.

Plus it has the benefit of intimidating the bowler. You are suddenly bigger; suddenly coming forwards and making them think twice about where to bowl:

The tactic works especially well if you are a front foot player, or you are playing on a slow pitch that requires a lot of driving.

Step out as the bowler enters the delivery stride. Some people prefer to do it early so they can get set at the new position, others prefer to go late and be on the move. Practice both.

With slower seam bowlers you will see the wicketkeeper stand up to counter the move. That’s OK because you can still try the next option.

2. Stand deep in your crease

Standing with both feet inside the crease is also designed to put a bowler off his length as you can now play back to good length balls. It’s especially effective against spinners and slower medium paced bowlers; both of whom hate to get cut and pulled.

Of course you stand a greater risk of LBW, especially against quicker bowlers with the keeper up, so be careful on the pitch you choose. A slow, low one is not the best idea.

It’s also wise to watch your bat and feet as knocking your stumps over is a genuine risk.

3. Exaggerate your trigger move

Another trick to using the crease is a variation of starting deep. This time you start in your normal position but move back and across just before the ball is bowled.

This gives the impression you have “cleared the front leg” even though it’s the back leg you have moved.


From this position you can play any shot: Short balls can be cut or pulled, length balls can be driven on the off or leg side.

You can also slog sweep.

It’s a bit more of a risk because you are opening yourself up, so not in the best position. However, by doing that you are giving yourself options without taking a massive chance.

4. Become a moving target

The last option carries the most risk but allows you to hit bowling into gaps at the end of an innings: you move sideways.

The choice is:

Step away to the leg side and aim to hit the ball over mid off or extra cover

Step away to the off side and aim to chip the ball over short fine leg

It’s not easy because it’s premeditated and you are moving away from your guard so you will lose where your stumps are. This means you have to practice it a lot to get right and you also need to save it for situations where you need to score most quickly.


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The Up and Up Batting Drill Tests Technique and Mental Toughness at Pace

You may recall a post-tour review undertaken by our U14 Keeper Batter, Jamie. Well, Jamie is back and he is the focus of a drill that I do to test a players psychological attributes as well as their technique.


It's called the "Up and Up" drill.

One of the most simple batting drills you can do on a bowling machine with good players. I stress the need for the player to be of a good standard as otherwise, the drill could potential become overawing for the person stuck down at the batters end.

I make my decision around the appropriateness of this drill over a long, long time.

I have worked with Jamie for three years now and last week was his first time with the drill. And he actually didn't know he was doing it until very close to the end of the session.

The up and up batting drill

Bowling machine starts on the players normal practice pace. For Jamie, this was 68mph at the outset.

The technical emphasis for this session was the repeatability of both his front foot decision making and shot execution.

The balls have a bit of natural variation in them, as you can see from the video. This shifts length between a half volley and a good length.

I shift the swing between one outswing and four outswing to adjust line and shape on the incoming ball. The combination of the outswing range and the length variation means that Jamie has to be mentally sharp for each delivery.

I have also done this drill on the back foot. With international players I shift between front foot and back foot by subtle manipulation of the machine head.

I am looking for the player to cope comfortably with subtle length and direction changes at their starting speed.

I then increase the speed by two mile per hour.

This 2mph incremental increase continues until I see signs of technical or mental breakdown.

Once this occurs for a few consecutive deliveries, I stop the round and start the reflection process using the video footage.

The aim is for the player honestly reflect on their experience.

But before we did that, I asked Jamie to put a ball into the machine and then look at the speed of the delivery. It was the same pace as the last ball he had faced. 90mph!

His mouth opened. He couldn't believe that he had faced such pace and had come through it with flying colours. Assistant Coach Dad said that he saw Jamie grow 6 inches when he saw the readings the dial.

Important to remember here that Jamie was ready as a person and a batter to attempt this drill and as a result, he could meet the challenge and elicit extra confidence as a result.

Hot debrief: 90mph hot

A "hot debrief" is a concept taken from the military world.

Hot debriefs occur immediately after a tough round so that the players can capture the key observations, thoughts and emotions that they experienced only seconds beforehand.

  • Jamie informed me that he realised the pace was increasing when it reached 78mph on the Dial at my end.
  • Jamie's decision making started to be negatively impacted at 80mph. He spotted this on the video and felt that he had begun to rush his pre-delivery routine before arriving into his initial stance. He also reported that his thoughts were beginning to feel rushed at this point.
  • Jamie also noted that he seemed to recover his processes after faltering at 80mph. This recovery encouraged me to continue with the drill and increase the pace of the ball up to 82mph. A great process for Jamie to recognise and an awesome situation to experience.
  • Technically, Jamie noted that the timing of his trigger movement into his ready position became inconsistent around 84mph. He would like to see himself having a bigger amount of time on his front foot before then moving into his final movement into the ball.
  • Jamie noted that when the timing of his trigger was spot on that he moved simply to the interception point, with great balance and made excellent contact with the ball. He said that when he did this, the ball looked slow. Basically, he looked like he had all the time in the world, even at extreme pace.
  • He loved his AB de Villiers "Late Block". Something that all the batters at Millfield practice and aim to be able to do as well as the great South African himself.
  • He was pleased that he only missed out on two balls off of his legs throughout the session.
  • He was also pleased at how well he kept his bat face on the line of the ball during contact and into the follow through phase of the bat swing.

I asked Jamie what changes would he make to his technical and mental processes if we were able to repeat the session again?

Jamie response is below.

"I would look to slow my mind down through breathing techniques and ensure that my pre-delivery routine was also slower. I would only get into my stance when my mind is clear and ready. Technically, I would work on the consistency of the timing of my trigger movements ahead of ball release. This would enable me to move into a balance position at ball contact. I would then have more control and probably, more scoring areas and options".

If you have a very good player in your team then the up and up drill could give them an extra confidence boost as well as challenging their technique and mental game plan under the pressure of ball speed.

It's not one for the faint-hearted, it's one for a very good player.

Jamie certainly is that!

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You Don’t Need Every Variation to Be an Excellent Spin Bowler

Mushtaq Ahmed, Graeme Swann, Syd Barnes and Shane Warne: Each player a unique and world-class spin bowler of his time.

None of them used every variation in the book.

They didn’t need them all. They maintain their deception by varying the angle of spin within a small region either side of their stock delivery.

Subtle and devastating.

What Is the the Future of Cricket Coaching? Tom Scollay Is Working on It Now

Cricket has changed. Coaching needs to change with it.


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: 456
Date: 2017-03-31