Pitchvision Academy


If you are down on your luck, this newsletter is for you. We discuss getting back to form, the spirit of cricket and making the most of nets.

And for the coaches, there is a refresher on working with beginner kids.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

How to Bounce Back to Your Best Cricket Form

You have been doing well. Runs and wickets flow. Your team is winning. Then an unexpected result puts you on the skids.

Have you lost form? Are you untalented?


This is the problem for my team right now.

After a ripping start, the batting unit have failed to chase 166 and 141 in 50 over matches, and managed to lose a Twenty20 by 10 wickets after scoring a feeble 89.

This is the classic issue of lost confidence: Players who have performed before can’t repeat it.

How do you rebuild your game from here?

Reset your expectations

When you are playing well, your confidence is high and you start to expect to win things easily. This is human nature, but when this stops (and it always stops eventually) you feel confused. What’s changed?

Why has brilliance been replaced by mediocrity?

In reality, nothing much has changed. You have not suddenly become a bad player or a bad team overnight. The only difference is except your expectations.

So reset them.

Instead of expecting to score runs every time or bowl your team to victory every time (unreasonable), tell yourself that you will work your hardest and try your best.

If you try your best, winning or losing does not make a difference to your confidence levels.

Of course, the result is important. Your form is important. But knowing you did everything you could but are going to learn from your mistakes is a totally different mindset from feeling out of control, confused and upset.

The former leads you towards recovery, the latter leads you towards worse results.

So, learn from your errors, try to correct them and move on quickly.

Take control

Of course, mindset is one thing, but what do you actually do to turn things around?

Take control and plan for the worst.

When you are down on confidence, people will tell you to think positive. Everyone loves a cheerful tryer. That’s all well and good, but it won’t get you out of your hole. Instead you need to imagine the absolute worst that can happen.

Why would you do such a thing to yourself?

First, it teaches you that things are never as bad as they could be. As humans we almost always imagine far worse consequences than the reality of the situation. Second, it allows you to plan for the hard circumstances.

If you fear the spinner ripping it square then you can get to work on playing spin. If you are terrified of getting out and end up making six runs in 50 balls then hammer some strike rotation at practice.

When you overload yourself beyond the game situation, you find the game itself a lot easier.

Forgive yourself

We all make mistakes. Cricket would be dull if we didn’t.

Good players fail too. The difference is that good players learn to let go of past mistakes.

Tell yourself that we all are human and sometimes we get it wrong. Sometimes the opposition will outplay us no matter how talented we are. Those things are normal and natural.

How you react is crucial.

If you decide you have “lost it” and get upset you will find it hard to get back to your previous heights. If you forgive your transgressions, set yourself to work hard in training and be ready to put in your best effort in the next game you have given yourself the best chance of success.

Tell yourself, “my recovery starts here”. Let go and get ready for the next one.

The bottom line

You know you are good enough, even if you are doubting yourself.

When you are in that place, it’s all about the mental game.

Work hard, train hard and rebuild that robust confidence. Your journey back to form will be shorter than you think.

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Coaching the Spirit of Cricket

There was a young cricketer a number of years ago who was incredibly competitive. Someone who fought for his team and scrapped with the opposition in every way he could. Winning was everything, nothing else mattered.


He would talk aggressively at the opposition, swear at the top of his voice when he was hit for four and throw his kit around when he was dismissed.

He was a complete idiot on the field.

He hated failing and couldn’t tolerate himself when that inevitable thing happened and he got out.

Nobody attempted to speak with the lad. There were plenty of conversations about the lad but nobody confronted him directly. No coach, captain nor club official challenged his inappropriate behaviour. He was perceived as “talented” and therefore, should be left alone. Observers suggested that he would grow out of this awkward phase he was going through.


Should we leave this to chance?

The problem with leaving such inappropriate behaviours alone is that they are disrespectful to the game, to the umpires and to the opposition. They also effect the your fellow players and also the spectators experience of cricket and leave indelible scar on that players ability to build coping strategies for frustration, failure and loss.

All the best cricketers that I know treat failure, frustration and loss with respect and adopt coping strategies which have been developed through experience, by making mistakes, by receiving consequence for their inappropriate on-field behaviour and through having robust discussions with respected coaches, administrators, senior players and team mates.

Idiot number one: Mark Garaway

The lad in question at the beginning of this story is me.

I was scarred through my playing life by the poor decisions I made and the subsequent characteristics that were established between the ages of 14 and 23.

And at the age of 26 I was on the playing scrap-heap.

But I was fortunate to have a pathway into a coaching role that allowed me to turn from “poacher into gamekeeper” and help the next generation of players to develop appropriate skills, build resilience, to accept that failure is central to the game of cricket and that sporting losses are rarely life defining.

2005: The year that I “got it”

I was inspired in 2005 by the England cricket team. Yes they played good cricket, yes they played hard cricket but they also did it in great spirit. Michael Vaughan’s team not only won the Ashes after 19 years of Australian domination but they also won the ICC Spirit of Cricket Award in the same year.

Graeme Smith and myself worked hard with the Somerset team in the same year to win both the T20 Cup and the MCC Spirit of Cricket award in 2005. These two examples proved to me that you can be highly successful and play the game in the right way.

Playing in the Spirit of the Game doesn’t make you soft nor significantly increase your chances of losing.

It is actually the “tougher” thing to do.

The Millfield Meyers XI 2017 story

As a coach nowadays, I am rigorous about the way that I want my sides to play and conduct themselves both on and off the field.

My resolve was tested at the outset of this summer when Millfield’s most senior side (The Meyers XI) lost their first 6 matches and disrespected the game, the opponents and the umpires in the process.

They were not the side that I directly coached, yet they represented the programme that I lead. I needed to be strong, robust and unapologetic for my approach to disciple and behaviours.

I’m sure I wasn’t much fun to be around for that group of players and they’re hearts must have sunk at the sight of me for a few weeks.

I gave them several dressings down, issued match bans for poor behaviours using the ECB Disciplinary Process as my guide and asked Ex-England Cricketers to give their honest opinions to some of our players about them as people, cricketers and competitors. I also sacked the captain for his appalling on field approach and incompletely lost it in a changing room one day where I spoke to the group as a whole.

The Meyers XI then went on a 14 match unbeaten run before they were beaten in the National T20 Final last Thursday.

They received rave reviews from all umpires and onlookers for their on-field behaviours, they became good hosts of parents and opposition, they were kind to each other and helped their team mates to play with confidence and skill and most importantly, they won games of cricket whilst playing to the MCC Spirit of Cricket.

In recent days, it has been great to re-appoint the early season sacked captain into the main leadership role for our end of season festival. The player in question has had a tough few months but reacted well to some robust feedback and management. This experience will stand him in good stead going forward.

Millfield cricket has had a terrible reputation for on-field behaviour over the years and I am sure that it was a valid reputation too. We have changed this in 2017 and we won’t be looking back. Not on my watch anyway. We need to protect the game and develop good people along the way. It sounds utopian, but it’s achievable using existing processes (Disciplinary Systems such as the ECB one and the MCC Spirit of Cricket) alongside some relentless and rigorous management.

You can win and do it right at the same time!

So let’s all get on board and protect our fantastic game whilst building essential disciplines, coping strategies and skills deep within our young players.

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Three Fundamentals of Coaching Kids Cricket

Whether you are newly qualified coach, or one with 20 years experience, most coaches find a time when they are working with beginner kids.

How do you make the sessions great and encourage the group to come back next week?

Here’s some basics


Keep taking to a minimum and get some activity going right away. For younger kids it barely matters what you do as long as there is plenty of running, hitting, catching and throwing.

Of course, the coach in you will want to instruct. You’ll see awful techniques and bizarre efforts to break the game rules just to be awkward (teenagers are especially adept at this). Power on and focus on the fun activity.

If you’re clever, you can sneak some learning in too. Adjust a grip quickly here, ask a question about how you can do things better there. Yet, it’s important not to be dogmatic. Kids work things out if you let them play. So set up the game and get going.

And certainly no long lectures!

One little thing I like to do is make sure kids are facing overarm bowling as soon as possible. This is a key skill and is easy to set up, even for the youngest cricketers. I almost always play games where the feed is “real” bowling. It doesn't need to be the best technique, just some kind of run up and overarm feed to start.

Give kids plenty of chances to both succeed and learn from mistakes. The coaching looks after itself for a while.


Your energy as coach is vital too. Massive enthusiasm is the minimum requirement: Be a ridiculous over the top version of yourself. Run around, get stuck in. Laugh, act shocked, tell jokes, be the hub of energy in the game.

Enthusiasm is inspiring.

Even if your character is quiet, thoughtful and under the radar, be the biggest most enthusiastic version of that you can be. Inspiration does need to be loud but it does need to be there. Imagine you’re going “on stage” every time you coach and you give yourself permission to be a little more over-the-top version of yourself.


The hardest of these three tips is adaptation.

Knowing when to help with skill development and knowing when to hang back is a hard trick to learn. Go in too much and you risk boredom, rebellion and unhelpful behaviour. Leave things alone and it becomes mindless activity.

The good news is that you get an instant response so you can adjust your coaching to player needs and wants instantly too.

I coached a group of older kids recently who were experienced with school cricket but didn’t enjoy playing much. A net session was an abject failure with no attention span, unhelpful behaviour and disrespectful actions.

I told them this and asked them to adapt but the changes we made (together) didn’t change the actions of these lads.

You might argue at this point for disciplinary action or even giving up on them and sending them home. I considered it. Then I had a brainwave and told them to go onto the outfield with soft balls and plastic bats and make their own game. The only rule was it had to be 20 minutes long.

On their own they made up a game that lasted 20 minutes with focus and attention. There were no arguement and no unhelpful actions. There may have even been a little bit of learning about leadership, focus and striking a ball!

It’s amazing what you can do if you find a way and stay positive.

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Cricket Show S8 Episode 25: Coming Back From Injury

Mark Garaway, Sam Lavery and David Hinchliffe are the cricket coaching podcast trio. The show talks you through coming back from injury and helping young bowlers stop all those pesky wides.

Remember to follow PitchVision Academy for free bonus content.

40 Ways to Bat at Nets Instead of Just Hitting Balls. Now You Have No Excuse.

One of the worst things I can hear at cricket training is the dreaded phrase "I just want to hit balls".

Why is this so bad?


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: 470
Date: 2017-07-07