Pitchvision Academy


This newsletter is mainly about running between the wickets. It's packed with ideas from the basics to clever tricks.

Plus we also have space to improve your sweep. You're welcome!

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Improve Your Run Judgement with These Proven Cricket Drills

Admit it, you need to run better.


There’s that one person in your cricket team who always seems to be run out or run you out. What a pain.

You say it’s important, but when did you last work on it with full focus? Who has time?

Running between the wickets is hard to train, so you leave it and hope you’ll magically get better. Then you get three run outs in a match and tear your hair out.

I’m not going to sugar coat it: You have to work on running to get better at running between the wickets. That’s cricket for you.

This is not just to stop the brain-freeze moments, but also to pick up more runs. The average team faces over 200 dots in a 50 over match. Turn just 20 of those into singles and you increase your score by far more than 20.

Here is how to boost your cricket with better running.

Focus on running

The most important drill is not a drill: it’s focus.

If you do some running at every session you will get better at running. Not only does it show how important you consider running for cricket success, but also it gives you “time on task”.

You’ll hear excuses. You’ll make excuses. Someone will say “but I get to face fewer balls if we do this.” Others will claim “I don’t need to work on this, I never get run out.” Some joker will point out “It’s not realistic.”

Shut up.

Get on with it.

I’ll tell you what causes you to face fewer balls. Getting run out. I’ll ask you how much better your average would be if you picked up five more singles a match, regardless of run outs. I’ll remind you that it’s not realistic to hit balls in nets for 10 minutes either but you do not seem to mind that.

Like I say - in the nicest possible way - get on with it. It’s either your focus or it is not. What are your team’s goals?

If you truly want to be better as a team. Get some focus and throw yourself in. It’s not clean, it’s not easy and it’s not always what you want as an individual batsman. Go with it. For the sake of your cricket team.

Time and compare

The best judges of a run know exactly how long it takes them to make a single, a double and a triple.

Most guys learn by trial and error in games. But you can recreate the trial and error with a drill. It combines fielding practice with a bit of running. You break it into two, first timing how fast you run with a stopwatch, then seeing how fast a fielder can get the ball to the stumps.

Here is the drill in full.

What you quickly see is how tough it is most of the time for a fielder to get a run out. A half a second difference is HUGE. It starts the process of building confidence that you can make it.

But you can’t stop there. We need to put it together.

Decisions are the difference

No matter how quick you are, or how often you see a fielder struggle, the real practice of running has to be based in the messy process of cricket decision-making.

Think about how much your brain has to do in the few moments of taking a single.

  • Focus on the ball, pick up line and length from the bowler.
  • Choose an appropriate shot, attempt to play it.
  • Process how well you hit it and what direction it went.
  • Notice the fielder’s position and movement and decide if a run is on.
  • Call decisively and set off, listening for your partner’s cancellation.
  • Get to the other end!

That’s a lot of fast decisions in a very chaotic situation.

So, practice in chaotic situations.

Clearly middle practice is best, especially well-designed intense practice like battle zone cricket. This drill focuses on picking up singles as much as possible with fielders trying to run you out. If you get the balance right between bat and ball you will find fast development in your running decision making.

You can play with the way you do this to make it more or less challenging.

  • What difference does a sidearm or bowling machine feed make?
  • How do more or less fielders chance the decision-making process?
  • What if you cut off certain areas of the field?
  • Or make certain areas “better” for scoring?
  • How does fielder skill and intensity balance against batsman skill and intensity?
  • Does the type of ball make a difference?

By working hard to keep it a challenge, you are constantly adjusting and adapting and challenging yourself. By the time you have done this a few times, a game will seem calm and simple in comparison!

I would strongly recommend videoing the session - ideally with with PV/MATCH - and reviewing how you did afterwards. Action is nothing without reflection.

But wait, I hear you cry, we only do nets! How do I do this in nets?

Don’t panic, you’re not alone.

Running in nets

Nets are a challenge for running skills.

I applaud those who try by doing the “bat in pairs, run every third ball” game. It’s at least an effort, albeit a rather ineffective one. There’s no link between hitting and running so there is no judgement.

The good news is you can use target batting to make it miles better.

The basic idea is simple: Set a target and when you hit the ball into that target you run.

You can use cones, string or even tape to mark the spot.

The connection between hitting a spot, making a decision and calling a run is still there, even if it’s not quite the same.

To advance it further, there are loads of other tweaks you can make.

  • Keep score to see who does best. You can do this with PV/ONE.
  • Push yourself for half-hearted calling and running. Make a “run out” rule for losing points unless you call clearly and run hard.
  • Make the targets smaller or bigger.
  • Make it a competition between batsmen and bowlers with points for bowling success and points for running success.

You get the idea. If the game is working as it is, keep going. If you feel it’s not engaging you, change it until it is. You have the control.

The bottom line with all this is that it is simple, but not easy.

It’s hard to set up, it’s hard to stay focused throughout the session, it’s hard to adapt and change as you go to make it better.

But remember, you have to control over your focus and the way you practice.

So, take control, pick up some extra runs and enjoy the competition of practice too.

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Tactics You Should be Using: Score Cricket Practice

Scoring your cricket practice is not as crazy as it seems.


If your team has a scorer, you are lucky. It’s a thankless task where people only notice when you get it wrong. No wonder everyone tries like mad to give it a swerve in those games where you have nobody to notch.

Why the heck would you score a practice session?

It’s worth the tiny bit of extra effort. I mean, you already have a cricket scoring app. With PV/MATCH you can score and video your games so it’s not hard to extend to midweek practice too.

The benefits are:

  1. You try harder: When you know you are on video and your score is kept, you try harder. Cricketers are super-competitive and want to win. Scoring practice fires the competitive spirit.
  2. You improve tough skills: Because everyone is trying at game intensity, you get better at hard-to-improve skills like running and fielding in a live situation. Without the video, you take your foot off the gas faster and the challenge reduces.
  3. You can review: While you practice you can “just play” which helps you develop good mental strength. After practice, look back at the videos and hunt down your super strengths to reinforce and your weaknesses to hide.

Noticeable improvements in intensity and skill?

Yes please.

Don’t score it all

Scoring practice doesn’t mean just playing a full game though.

We are still practicing, so we still need to focus on the cricket skills we are trying to improve above just playing a full match. The latter is probably impractical anyway.

So, score the game based on the rules you set out.

If a batsman is getting four overs and losing runs for a wicket falling, record it. If you give bonus runs for straight drives, record it. If you reward the bowlers for strings of dots, record it. You don’t need to restrict yourself to full cricket laws. You can play about with the rules as you would in any practice.

Just make sure the score is kept.

I tell you from experience that players who have a “net average” get a lot more serious about practice. We recorded it for a whole winter at my club and it worked a treat.

Yes, it is a little more effort and organising. But give it a try, I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

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A Cricket Sweep Shot Drill From Hockey

The last week of November is one of my favourite weeks in the year. I get the opportunity to assess 16 ECB level IV Candidates undertaking their nerve wracking assessment alongside successful cricket coaches and eminent sports scientists.

It’s been an honour and privilege to watch nearly 100 coaches over the past six years present their coaching philosophy, their work with two players and their reflections on how they have developed as a coach over the course of the programme.

The other benefit is that I get to see some fantastic drills in action in each candidate’s presentation. I can use these drills within the cricket programme here at Millfield.

Former Derbyshire Captain and fantastic batter, Wayne Madsen has always impressed me as an aspiring coach. Wayne is mixing his own cricket career with coaching in the Derbyshire Academy. He also finds time to Coach a local Hockey Club.

Wayne bought his experiences from hockey coaching into his presentation using a hockey stick to help one of his players to expand their sweep options against spin.

As Wayne was talking, I was already picturing the players who I knew would love the drill. Hockey players in the winter months.

I messaged Josh - a hockey player as well as cricketer - and asked his to bring his hockey stick and cricket bat into our next session. Josh is small in stature for his age and his boundary options against spin are limited to hitting under pitched balls with pull shots. This could work for him!

Wayne’s drill

  • I asked Josh if there was any transferability between hockey shots and sweep shots. I was looking to tap into Josh’s hockey experience here as I had a very limited hockey career (I was useless).
  • Josh both spoke and then shaped his reverse sticks side and also his orthodox side shots on the hockey field. I noted that his reverse stick technique was demonstrated with a very high centre of mass.
  • I showed Josh an image of a player playing a reverse sticks shot and asked him what he noticed about her base, her technical shape and her intent going into contact.
  • Josh picked up that the hockey player bent both of her legs to get closer to the ball (which is on the floor) and is preparing to hit the ball really hard.
  • Josh was keen to have a go so I asked him to hit some stationary balls off of the floor.
  • We checked Josh’s alignment. Josh was blocking himself off and having to swing over his front leg which restricted his access to the ball. Josh then aligned the ball with his back thigh instead of the front foot. He found that he could access the ball easier.
  • Josh tried a reverse sweep from his normal stance position and then also turned (as you can do with a reverse sticks shot) in a switch hit fashion. The latter technique bought him better results and improved contacts. So he stuck with that approach.

Drill progression

  • Hitting stationary balls from the ground with the hockey stick.
  • Hitting stationary balls from a tee. Alternating between normal and reverse sweeps, alternating between hockey stick and cricket bat.
  • Hitting double bounce balls underarm by the coach.
  • Then (because of time) I asked Josh to create a final drill to finish the session. He lined up six batting tees and hit three sweeps with the hockey stick and then three with his cricket bat.

Here is a video of Josh’s work in the session:

The plan for the next few sessions is to start with the tee drills, then face some bobble feed balls before having some overarm throw downs using the cricket bat and then ultimately to face bowlers.

We will only step up to the final two progressions once Josh is happy that he is able to make consistently good decisions and good technical execution of both the sweep and the reverse sweep in the earlier drills.

The key is not having an exhaustive list of drill progressions, but to recognise the appropriate time to up the challenge and move to the next progression. Equally, it is not a bad thing to go back to the previous drill is your technique and outcome falls down under pressure.

Have a go. It worked for us!

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Cricket Show S8 Episode 47: Keep Going Where?

David Hinchliffe pairs up with Mark Garaway to chat about Ashes, banter and cricket. The team talk about variation of length in bowling, sweep shots and taking up pace at an advanced cricket age.

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How to Rotate the Strike

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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: 490
Date: 2017-12-08