Pitchvision Academy
Get Fit For Cricket


Welcome to the upgraded new edition of the miCricketCoach newsletter. What's it all about?

Now miCricketCoach comes in several flavours depending where you live in the world. So now we will be able to customise the newsletter to your season and your local issues. The idea is to make miCricketCoach as relevant to you as possible (and if you have local issues you want to hear about please contact us with your ideas).

We are offering the World edition alongside editions for India, Pakistan, Africa, Australia and the UK.

If you want to get your local edition for free, head over to miCricketCoach and look for the new Weekly Updates box (with the red "subscribe me" button). Make your choice and await the new edition. All totally for free!

In other news we have made some big updates to PitchVision Academy Online Cricket Coaching. You will notice new courses in batting, captaincy and youth development (perfect for all coaches out there) alongside some familiar names with upgraded courses. Take a look through the pages to see if there is anything you can use to improve your game (or the game of someone you coach).

I would be amazed if there is not, this is cutting edge stuff from the world's best coaches.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

The real secrets to mastering the sweep shot

If shots go through fashions, we can safely say the sweep is this year's must have item. Have you been wondering how to play the sweep well?

The sweep is an excellent weapon for any batsman: when used correctly.

And that's also the problem

Frowned upon totally in its early days, the shot (and its range of variations) has become an acceptable, if difficult to learn, shot. But many coaches still shy away from teaching it, going down the safer route of a straight bat.

Lots of players are never taught to play the shot with a safe technique or at the right time during the game. They end up using as a handy excuse to have a slog across the line.

"It wasn't a slog" they say as you approach them after their innings was cut short, caught at square leg top edging the ball. "It was a sweep".

Let's make sure that never happens again.
Why sweep?

Ask the famous England opener Geoff Boycott if he swept and he will tell you: rarely. His method was to use good footwork to get to the pitch of the ball and hit it down the ground with the full face of the bat.

With this safe, effective and wide range why would anyone elect to hit across the line and increase the risk?

The main reason is that the shot can be highly disruptive to a spin bowler both in his length and field placings. No spinner likes to be swept because the shot is best played to a good length ball; one that is normally defended. The sweep turns it into a run scoring length and the spinner needs to rethink.

It also has the advantage of being a run scoring shot without the risk of a stumping on a turning pitch. Not all players are as nimble on their feet as Boycott was. The sweep is the answer.

When to sweep?

Traditionally the sweep is played against a spinner on a turning pitch. The ball pitches on a good length on or outside the leg stump as show here:

This line and length make it easier to hit the ball safely on the leg side and reduce the risk of LBW if you miss the ball. For this reason it is safer to sweep the ball that is turning from off to leg (off spinner to a right handed bat). On the other hand, it is probably easier to sweep the ball that is turning from leg to off (slow left arm or leg spin to a right handed batter). This is because the ball turns towards the bat as you sweep rather than away from it.

The sweep can be played in a much wider range of lines and lengths. Any line from outside leg to outside off is fair game. Most lengths from a half volley to just short of a good length can be swept (depending on the bounce of the pitch). The more you move away from the red zone (as show in the picture above) the more risky the shot becomes and the more you need to practice and assess the risk-reward before playing it.

The best time to sweep is when you want to disrupt the bowler's length. In longer games this could be if he or she is tying you down with an accurate spell. If this is the case it is important to sweep a lot as one sweep per over would rarely be enough to put the bowler off. In shorter games like Twenty20, you may try this tactic much earlier, especially if there is a gap in the field you can exploit for an easy single or firmly struck boundary.

In all out attack situations you can adapt the sweep to hit the ball in the air over square leg of midwicket for six, although this is a high risk plan it might be required in limited over death situations.

Technique for effective sweep shots

Let's assume you are in a conventional innings and playing safer with the sweep. The bowler is keeping you quiet and you want to rotate the strike so you elect to sweep the ball on leg stump. How do you play the sweep with good technique?

According to PitchVision Academy batting Coach Gary Palmer's Batting Mechanics book, the sweep has the following technical points:

  • Leading with your head take a long stride towards the ball, bending your front knee. Keep your head still and eyes level as shown here:
  • With your back leg touching the ground, swing the bat smoothly out in ahead of your front pad close to the ground, making contact with the ball at arm's length in front of your pad. Aim to hit downwards as shown here:

Variations of sweep

The sweep has developed into several variations.

  • Defensive sweep. Bob Woolmer identifies this shot in his coaching book. If the spinner sees you playing the sweep early enough he or she may decide to bowl a fuller quicker ball. You can counter this by staying in the sweep position but not swinging the bat, just placing the blade low down to chip the ball to the gap at short leg.
  • Fine sweep. By stepping inside the line you can sweep finer, inside the fine leg. This carries an increased risk of getting bowled round your legs.
  • Reverse sweep. Used in one day games, this shot is hard to execute and therefore much higher risk. If you can play it, you can put a length ball behind square on the off side that upsets the bowler's field settings. The setup to the shot is the same, the main difference being you turn your hands over allowing you to swing from off to leg in 'reverse'
  • Slog sweep. In situations needing fast scoring the slog sweep allows you to hit the ball in the air, ideally for six. The important difference is to get the front leg out of the way allowing you to get under the ball and hit it over midwicket or square leg. Hit with straight arms, a smooth swing and a full follow through.

If you are planning on using these variations, it's important to practice them and get the technique right before trying them in a match. Some are riskier than the conventional sweep so you need to assess whether you will need to use them in a match at all, and if so, if the risk is worth the extra effort.

Line and length images supplied by PitchVision - Coach Edition. Available to purchase now for clubs, schools and cricket centres.

If you want to learn everything there is to know about technique, check out Gary Palmer's interactive coaching courses. Gary is a coach with over 20 years experience teaching players to become first class cricketers. For the first time he has put his drills online, only at PitchVision Academy.



Discuss this article with other subscribers

Control momentum by changing the pace of the game

'Momentum' is hard to define in cricket, but you know when you have it: That feeling of being on top of the game.

Smart players and coaches know how to control momentum: to be in charge of the flow and pace of the game. They understand when to ride this wave of success. They also know when to take action to get it back if it starts to slip away.

In a single game, the balance of power can shift many times, however there are really only three situations you can be in. These situations are defined by how you are doing in the game. Although, unlike a football match you can't know exactly who is winning and losing at any time, you can get a sense for the game situation. You may be batting last and be several wickets down while the run rate creeps up. Or you may be bowling and your star seamer takes a hat-trick. In the former the balance of the game is with the opposition so you are losing. In the latter the balance is with you so you are winning.

How do you react to such situations?
You are winning

The momentum is with you so there is little you need to do as your plans are working. However, take care not to let the balance shift back. The opposition will be fighting to gain control again.

One tactic that works well when you have the advantage is to try and speed the game up as much as possible. In the field that may mean getting through your overs quickly to stop the batsman having time to settle and think. As a batter you might want to try and up the scoring rate further to put pressure on bowlers.

You are losing

When the balance of the game is against you there are two ways to approach your comeback plan.

The first is to keep the same tactics as before. For example, Imagine you are bowling and the batsman are scoring quickly without losing wickets. If conditions are in your favour and their runs are coming from edges that are just missing fielders or other lucky breaks you may want to persevere with 'plan A' a little longer. You feel a catch is just around the corner.

However, consider the same situation where the batsmen are scoring off the middle of the bat and are in little danger from the ball moving around. Here you may want to make changes. You could tighten up the field, cutting off the scoring shots or try something unorthodox.

Whether you are batting or bowling it may also be worth slowing the pace of the game. This gives you time to relax, think and think of the best way to come back at your opponents.

You are drawing

The third situation can be very exciting or very dull.

In close games where runs are being scored and wickets are falling the balance is shifting so quickly from one way to the other it can be hard to say who is winning. These are rare games but exciting and tense to play in. You might look to slow the pace of the game in this situation to, allowing you time to get focused. It's easy to get overexcited.

The dull part really only happens in declaration or time cricket when the draw is an option. Here neither side is winning. The problem often occurs when a team is set a target they feel then cannot get in the time available (or with the batsmen they have). The batting team set themselves for defence while the bowling team run out of ideas and start hoping for an unforced error.

This situation can be avoided by more sporting declarations. However if you find yourself in the field when the game goes flat then all you can do is keep trying new ways to get the batsmen out; as they are set on defence this will be difficult. Slower balls, variations, occasional bowlers and field changes (based in common sense and sometimes psychological buff) can all be tried.

The key for me is this: Whatever situation you are in, it's important to know where the balance of power or momentum is. One of the unique pleasures of cricket is the combination of a slow pace on the surface and a constant shift of momentum between teams. If you are sharp to the situation and have a plan for it you can perform at a higher level.

image credit: ufopilot

Want to be a better captain? Learn from the best with the interactive online course Cricket Captaincy by Mike Brearley.


Discuss this article with other subscribers

Fear of success: Do you recognise the signs?

In 2005 the England cricket team won the Ashes in dramatic fashion. They were hailed by some a heirs to the world title with a young side of talented cricketers ready to take on, and beat, the world's best.

What happened was indifferent form culminating in a 5-0 whitewash at the hands of the very Australian side they had beaten less than two years before.

What happened? Perhaps it was a fear of success: A genuine problem that is hard to identify but can hold back cricketers and teams at every level of the game.

Do you recognise the signs in yourself or your team?

What is fear of success?

Most cricketers play to win. Even in the friendliest village or park game we want to take wickets and score runs. However, some players are sabotaging themselves without realising it.

Players may say to themselves; "I want to do my best" but find the behaviours are very different:

  • Putting off going to training or the gym
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Not eating well
  • Having a negative mindset (There is no point in trying to hard as I will probably fail)

Why does this happen? It's more than being lazy. Each action gives a handy excuse. It's easy to say you tried your hardest but you were just too tired after playing in the Xbox all night.

Why does fear of success happen?

It's counter-intuitive to think anyone would be afraid of doing well. Sure, we all have some level where we fear failure but to fear the opposite. Why would you?

The answer is that success and failure are tied closely together. Imagine that you are a star spinner and you are playing on a wicket that turns square. Everyone will expect you to bowl the opposition out in no time because you have done it before. However you are afraid that today will be the day you can't rise to the challenge. You are also worried that even if you do bowl like a dream you won't be able to maintain this high standard for long; you will be found out.

Another reason to fear success is that worry about what to do when it is achieved. What if you make it as a professional player, for example, and you lose all motivation to play once you are there?

These reasons are about the burden of success: The higher the success, the greater the expectation and the more the fear of failure. The easy route is to not succeed in the first place. Perhaps it is a more natural reaction than it seems.

How to overcome fear of success

For players who fear the crash after the high, the key is a change of mindset.

After a success or a big win there will be a natural high. The inclination is to do nothing as everything is going according to plan. However, this is the time to talk about what happens next and deal with the possible negatives that come from success.

Most players will never need such a conversation, but if a coach or captain has made them aware that negative thinking after success can lead to failure, he may have cut of a problem before it occurs.

Discuss this article with other subscribers

Laws of Cricket: Pitches and playing areas

This edition of Laws of Cricket, in association with the International Institute of Cricket Umpiring and Scoring, covers some more tricky questions of the Laws.

Cricket Show 35: Mike Brearley

As part of the brand new captaincy course on PitchVision Academy we have a free sample section of our conversation with Mike Brearley.

The full audio includes tactical and man management tips for captains. There is also exclusive video of Mike available once you have enrolled. If you order before June 1st you can get the course at a discount rate.

Also in the show Kevin sorts out his hang time, David wins a match with no satisfaction and also:


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.


Take a tour
Want Coaching?

Send to a Friend

Do you have a friend or team mate who would be interested in this newsletter? Just hit "forward" in your email program and send it on.

If you received this email from a friend and would like to get subsequent issues, you can subscribe here.


PitchVision Academy

irresistable force vs. immovable object

Thank you for subscribing to PitchVision Academy.
Read more at www.pitchvision.com


To unsubscribe eMail us with the subject "UNSUBSCRIBE (your email)"
Issue: 53
Date: 2009-07-03