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This week we tackle some cricket coaching issues. There are three magic words (and questions) to improce your cricket. Tips from international players and coaches, and the sticky issue of listening.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Transform Your Cricket with These Magic Three Words

Send your game into the stratosphere with this secret coaching tool.


I recently attended a Coach Education day with some world-class coaches in fielding, strength and conditioning and technique. I came away with a raft of tips, drills and ideas to put into action with club level players.

But one thing really stood out to me.

In fact, it’s a coaching trick that is as old as coaching itself. Yet, in the light of these sessions and my recent experiences as a coach, it reminded my of it’s power.

Many of us think actions are more important than words: Get to work in the nets and stop talking airy nonsense about “culture” and “mindset”. While I agree, action is crucial, it’s undirected without the words.

Words give context, context leads to positive action. The right actions get insane results.

What am I talking about?

The power three

The power three are three simple questions.

They are best practice for coaches trying to construct sessions, but they can also be used by players at practice to turn nets into focused sessions of excellence:

  • What do you want to improve?
  • Why do you want to improve it?
  • How do you work on that today?

Sounds too simple doesn’t it?

That’s what I thought. I almost ignored the point as the speaker moved on quickly.

Then I realised this was one of the most powerful ways to add context to training.

Who is this for?

Think about what most people do at nets and compare it to this.

There is the group who turn up to “hit balls” and “get in form” and, perhaps worse, get frustrated when they don’t middle everything. You don’t improve by doing this.

There are the ones who are keen to learn but just do exactly what the coach has prescribed without thought or question. You could improve by doing this, but it will be slow and painful.

There is a third group who are engaged and thoughtful, but also undirected. They work on whatever they feel like at the time.

The power three are for all these people. Every age, every skill level.

How to use the questions

So, how do you put this into action?

Simple, before every session (or even during the session) ask yourself the questions and answer them. Then get to work.

Let’s say you want to improve your spin bowling. First you ask “what” and decide you would be better if you had more dip. Then you ask “why” and decide you don’t get much dip at the moment, robbing you of a tool to take a wicket. Finally you ask “how” and you come up with a drill to improve your dip.

Then you get to work.

Isn’t that a lot more powerful than just running in and generally hoping magic will happen by itself?

It might.

But with these three words, it’s much more likely.

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Batting Grip: The Hardest Technical Change of All?

Last week I had the great pleasure of working alongside England Test Match Batting Coach, Mark Ramprakash on the Level III Coaching course.


Ramps is a fantastic presenter and always invites the candidates to add their own experiences and thoughts into the melting pot, it’s a great learning environment. Last weeks cohort included a number of highly successful international cricketers including multiple Ashes winners; Paul Collingwood and Jonathan Trott.

The Ramps Approach

Ramps is a big advocate of involving the player in any decision making around technical adaptation or change.

He also understands the importance of timing the intervention perfectly, allowing the player to feel that they have been the person that has made the decision to bring about a change.

Paul Collingwood spoke honestly about how resistant he was towards change throughout his career. The highlight of which came when talking about suggested batting grip changes.

As you will know, Paul had a strong bottom hand grip. Many observers, commentators and coaches felt that this was a limiting factor within his game. Colly felt that his grip gave him control and allowed him to strike the ball in his way.

He had developed this method over the course of 20 years way before he hit a ball on the International stage. Colly felt confident that his grip would help him to be successful and would not be a significantly limiting factor on his outcome or run scoring.

He knew that he would be stronger in some areas and weaker at scoring in others but accepted this rather than try to be something that he was not.

He was not a man for changing!

And this is not always an easy thing to do when you are being analysed by Sky Sports Commentators and viewers every day of your working life.

I can’t ever remember thinking that it was a good idea to chat to him about his grip during the years that we worked together. I felt that it was important to maximise his super strengths and give him reassurance, rather than trying to change a core element within his game.

Some coaches will not be happy with that.

They will want their players to present a fuller face of the bat to as many balls as possible.

This is very sound technical modelling advice, that’s for sure.

However, when you are met with a player who is resistant to change, yet is easy to respect as a person and the type of character that we would all want in our teams, then do we - as coaches - need to become more technically flexible and trust the player to make the right decision about their game?

The players who made me become more flexible as a coach!

Unlike other coaches, I didn’t go after Colly’s bottom handed grip. The main reason is that I had been there before with a couple of players and found that they pushed me back.

I jumped in and “attacked” one of their fundamentals before I had really built up a coaching relationship nor seen how their grip “idiosyncrasy” fitted into their overall game.

As a result, I then had to work hard on our working relationship before being let "back in". Fortunately, both batters are top people and didn’t hold a grudge for too long!

Growth or fixed mindset?

For those avid readers, you might be thinking that in Paul Collingwood and these two young players (15 and 17 at the time when I first worked with them respectively) all display fixed mindsets when it came to adaptation or change?

Maybe they did. But equally, in some cases, having a stubborn streak or being resistant to (unnecessary) change is their personal point of difference.

And who was I to expect each of them to take in my advice verbatim just because my role was coach and their role was player?

Each of the players in this article are incredible self-aware. They have understood themselves as people and cricketers for a long time. There are many people far more intelligent than myself who would argue the need to factor in levels of self-awareness into the technical intervention decision making.

My experience to date (by getting it wrong initially as a less experienced coach) would lend support that argument.

  • Paul Collingwood: Triple Ashes Winner, World T20 Cup Winning Captain in 2010 & 15 International Centuries.
  • Alistair Cook: 4 x Ashes Winner, England Captain, nearly 12,000 Test March runs including 31 Centuries. (Was 15 at the time....I bodged it up initially).
  • Graeme Smith: Captained his country in 100 Test Matches, 17,000 International runs with 37 Centuries (and the worst technical grip ever!).


It’s good to have a technical model in your head around something like he grip.

However, we need to look at a number of things before jumping into a significant batting-technical change:

  1. How self aware is the player? (As a person and as a batter?)
  2. How much of a limiter is the "technical flaw" that you have identified? Is it an aesthetic flaw or a limiting run scoring flaw? (There is a difference between the two in my book.)
  3. If you believe that the player will benefit from making a technical change then choose the point that you bring this to their attention very carefully.

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Cricket Show S8 Episode 41: Gara's Famous Treacle Tart

Mark Garaway, Sam Lavery and David Hinchliffe chat about cricket. The team talk about communicating with people who care about your team but are not in the team. Then questions are answered about scoring in the slog overs and diets for fast bowlers.

Remember to follow PitchVision Academy for free bonus content.

Listen for the details.


How to Send in Your Questions

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How to Bowl A Consistent Length

One of the hardest problems to solve as a bowler is if your length is inconsistent. To many four balls results in a lot of head scratching at nets.

How to Coach Cricketers Who Don't Listen

One big frustration of coaching is the players who don't listen.


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: 484
Date: 2017-10-27