Pitchvision Academy


Cricket is a game of the head. With that in mind - pun intended - this week we look at some tactical and mental tricks to boost your batting. Especially if you are a left hander.

Plus there are guides to "intention based" coaching and winning more by forgetting about winning.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Use This One Simple Trick to Treat Yourself to More Runs

What you say to yourself when you bat is vital to your run scoring.


So why not find out what you say?

We all know how important your brain is to batting. We all constantly talk to ourselves in the middle; “watch the ball”, “play straight”, “we need to improve the run rate”.

The better your self-talk, the more likely you are to succeed.

But often you focus on technique, especially in nets, and forget about the power of thoughts and feelings on your actions.

Of course, technique is important to cricket but so is having a “mental cricket net” too. It helps you understand yourself better and score more runs as a result.

Record your thoughts

Using PitchVision you can record your batting in nets and games to improve. Why not do the same with your thoughts?

Aussie Cameron Bancroft did exactly that recently. This video shows him wearing a mic and talking us through his thoughts and feelings as he has a net.

It was everything you can aim for: focused, positive, in control and accepting.

What is stopping you from doing the same?

You could wear a mic or record thoughts into a phone as you bat. You could write things down or you could even chat to the coach or bowlers as you go through things.

The point is, get those thoughts down: Rational, irrational, positive, negative... everything!

Review your thinking

After nets, match up the video to the audio. Compare those thoughts to how you played.

Did your performance in nets change when your thoughts changed?

What were you thinking about when you were at your best?

What caused you to play in a way that was unhelpful?

Most importantly, how can you reject those unhelpful thoughts before they become negative actions?

This kind of conscious review of your thinking allows your to better understand yourself as you play cricket. You can keep the unhelpful thoughts out and focus on just batting without mental interference.

And all through popping on a mic when you next go into nets (or play a match).

Not bad, eh?

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Cut Through Cricket Pea Soup with Intention Based Games

Last week, we used constraints based practice to develop batting skills. It’s one of the tactics that I have used in a back foot phase.


Another funky method that develops skills at an accelerated rate is intention based games.

These are brilliant as they take the focus to developing some “how to achieve this” as opposed to taking a player further down their very own technical“pea soup river”.

This is a brilliant coaching strategy when you see a player becoming so immersed in their thinking they are becoming too conscious of what they are trying to do. This is preventing them from moving in a natural fashion and limits success.

Here are some examples of Intention based learning helping players to move more naturally and achieve more.

Sam and his cut shot

Sam has had a lengthy break from the game through injury. He has picked up most things back up quickly. Just like riding a bike. His cut shot was bothering him.

Sam was taking the ball so early He kept ballooning the ball at head height into the point or cover region.

We noticed that his weight distribution was pulling him away from the shot as he went into contact. He was slightly falling towards fine leg. This would impact upon his contact point, balance and control. We decided that the focus for the next few shots was to brace his back leg rather than squat into the shot in order to keep the hips and core engaged with the shot.

Sam hit the odd one well. The ball would then go down rather than at head height off of the bat.

The outcomes were still inconsistent.

Sam was battling with himself and becoming more and more frustrated. I had to shift something to remove the “pea soup” that was building in his head.

“Sam, Can you hit the ball into the netting panel running from the offside corner pole to the next pole along please? Hold onto this intention for the next 10 balls bud and see what happens?”

In cricket fielding positions,  the panel was on a backward point to fine third man line.

Sam missed the first ball altogether and laughed. It was the first smile or laugh that he had shown for a while and when I asked him why he laughed,

Sam said,

“I missed the first ball, but I now realised that my body shape was completely different and if I kept trying to achieve the intention that you set then I would play the cut properly, with control and power”

The next nine balls were struck with power and timing, all of the balls hit the intended netting panel. Sam now hit the ball from a stable base and most importantly, let the ball travel far enough before making contact with it. His body weight had shifted and was contributing to the successful outcome.

The pea soup had lifted, he wasn’t thinking consciously about the constituent bits of his body any longer and his focus was purely on hitting the intended target. His body was self-organising to achieve a positive outcome.

Tom and hitting over the top

Tom was having a self-reliant batting session against Merlyn spin bowling machine. He was working on hitting the ball back over the off spinners head to force mid-on and mid-off back onto the boundary, and probably to hit the ball out of the park knowing him.

Tom was skewing the ball here and there, with little control without once hitting the ball down the ground. He was getting frustrated and he looked as if he was going to launch the bat into the side net in anger!

Time to step in!

“ Tom, Success is to hit the ball either side of the third horizontal pole in front of you. Have 10 balls and then tell me how you got on”

I turned away to work with another player but kept the Merlyn net in my peripheral vision for the next few minutes.

This gave Tom an intention focus, just like Sam above. The next 10 balls were all struck cleanly, his movement down the pitch became less frantic, his swing tempo reduced in speed and his bat face started to go through, rather than across the line of the ball.

  • The first two balls went straight yet were a little too elevated, hitting before the intended horizontal metal pole target.
  • ball 3 smashed centrally into the intended target.


The noise rang around the bubble.

  • The next four balls all missed the pole but on the further side. I didn’t mind that as the trajectory of these shots was circa 40 degrees. A decent launch angle.
  • Ball eight and 10 thudded into the pole.


Tom reported back that he was far more successful when he simply picked out a target and kept his mental process linked to that and nothing else.

Intention conclusions

This approach shouldn’t be alien to us. This is what batters do when they are performing at their best out in the middle. They see a series of gaps and then let their body self-organise to hit the ball between those gaps or over the fielders.

When a batter is playing at the top of their game how often do they hit fielders?

How often are they breaking their movements down into constituent parts so they can sequence them all together?


When you see a player doing this in practice and getting frustrated as a result then shift the focus to an intention based approach, get them to solve a problem.

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Remember the Difference Between Winning and Succeeding

We sat in desperate silence in the changing room.


A dropped catch was the difference between victory and defeat against one of the best cricket clubs in the country. We were out of the National Cup. Our most reliable fielder had discovered butter fingers at the critical moment. We were all inconsolable.

It was months ago and I still feel the pain of the defeat as much as that moment after that game. That’s the dark side of the game we love; it doesn’t always go your way.

In cricket, we have a clear indication of success: Winning games. Winning is the point. Win more than anyone else and you get to claim trophies and plaudits for your club or school. Lose and you get a “better luck next time” and a feeling horrible feeling.

You know the one.

But success is not the same as winning cricket matches, just as failure is not the same as losing.

Take the opportunity

Imagine your cricket team comes up against a much stronger side. You have no chance of victory.

But you are determined to show your worth.

You play as hard as you can, you make few mistakes and you even have a moment or two when you are on top, but you end up losing by seven wickets.

You lost.

You didn’t fail.

How can you have failed? You:

  1. Tried as hard as you could.
  2. Players as well as could be expected.
  3. Learned from the experience that you need to get better.

Isn’t that all we can expect from anyone at any time?

In recent times it’s become popular in top level cricket form losing teams to “take the positives” from a game when they lose. This is not the whole story.

I like to say we are “taking the opportunities” instead.

That way, the result is one small part of your success or failure as a team. If you see an opportunity to get better or put in more effort and focus, then take it regardless of the result of the game.

Naturally, if you lose when you feel you could have won, you will feel down about it. But even in these moments, it’s about taking the opportunity to grow and reduce the chance of defeat next time.

The result is not the end

When I hear players I coach talk about winning games, I applaud their determination and focus. I’m also quick to be clear that the result of the game is just one part of the reason we play cricket.

You can play well, put in your best effort, have a fun day with good friends and still lose the match.

You can be half-hearted, lean on a superstar, have an argument on the pitch because you dislike each other so much, everyone goes home straight after the game and you still win.

Luck, opposition skill, conditions, form, umpiring and a hundred other factors go into the final result. You don’t control many of them.

The result really is just part of the process.

Will to win

Of course, I’m as competitive as any other cricketer and coach. I want the teams I coach to win every game.

I also recognise - and advocate passionately - that poor results are not an accurate reflection of failure. When we play (win or lose), I ask the players to look into themselves and ask,

  1. Did I give my all to the best of my current ability?
  2. How can I better prepare for next time?

If you can honestly say you did your best and the team lost, you can also say you didn’t fail.

That’s not an excuse to sit back either. If you really want to win you still need to put in the energy and commitment to develop. It’s just that the “W” column is a consequence of your increased skills, team work and - let’s be honest - luck too.

So don’t obsess about winning. Obsess about improving and enjoying. Let the winning look after itself.

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Tactics You Should be Using: Left-Right Hand Opening Batsmen

There was once a time in cricket it was considered such an advantage to bat left handed that it was almost outlawed.

Cricket Show S8 Episode 44: A Late Arrival

Sam Lavery chats to David Hinchliffe with a last minute drop in from Mark Garaway. There are chats about dealing with adversity as a coach, choosing bats and batsman-wicketkeepers.


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: 488
Date: 2017-11-24