Pitchvision Academy

Hi there,

Ian Pont is known rightly as the fast bowling doctor. If you want to bowl fast and with accuracy Ian is the man you need to turn to. This week he very kindly agreed to chat to me about a range of bowling topics including Twenty20, the art of swing and some secrets of pace with laser accuracy. You can listen in here.

Talking of answering questions, the latest 'Ask the Coaches' section covered making it as a professional and how to throw further. If you have your own burning questions you can submit them here. Ask as many as you like, it's free.

Finally this week I take a look at the importance of technical coaching and Australian coach John Hurley gives us an 'at the coalface' view of cricket fitness.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

How much skill coaching do you need to be a good cricketer?

Remember how shocked you were when you first saw Muttiah Muralitharan bowling?

It makes you wonder why we bother with coaching at all. Especially as most coaches are becoming increasingly terrified of producing the proverbial robotic, overcoached player. Murali is the antithesis of that player.

So which way is right, formal coaching or teaching yourself?

For Ian Pont, the balance is about good coaching and bad coaching.

A good coach knows when to intervene because of a flaw and when to let a player be unorthodox because it is working.

Take responsibility

One of the keys to working out if you need more coaching or not is to take responsibility to learn for yourself.

Greg Chappell believes players learn best through unstructured coaching: Recreating backyard and beach cricket games with family or bowling at a target on the pitch rather than worrying about your action.

Playing in an unstructured way teaches you how to learn for yourself. For example, it doesn't matter how you hit the ball through extra cover for four, just if you can do it or not. And the best way to learn that is to hit balls through extra cover until you work it out.

Some things remain important

That said there will be times when a technical fault is stopping you from improving. Even Murali has certain aspects to his bowling that he has to have to succeed. In Greg Chappell's book, he outlines these as:

  • Unweighting. Being able to remain stable and use the force of the ground to generate force (bowling action, playing shots or fielding).
  • Coiling. Using your midsection to store up energy and uncoil into a cricket skill like throwing or playing the pull shot.
  • Using Levers. Balancing out each action with the perfect reaction. For example the front arm in the bowling action acting as a lever for the bowling arm.
  • Timing. Putting all the above into a perfect sequence.

These apply to batting, bowling and fielding no matter how unorthodox your technique.

If you don't have these four elements you are not going to be a success. The good coach can analyse what is stopping any of these factors and teach you how to develop them.

The good coach also knows that if you have these principles of movement under control you don't need to change anything.

Some people will have these skills without even thinking about it. If you are lucky enough to be one of those cricketers, you need barely any coaching.

For the rest of us mere mortals, good coaching is more important. But it's not about recreating the perfect technique, it's about understanding the movements and adapting your individual technique to them.

Understanding that will help you work out how much coaching you need and importantly, avoid the bad coaching that leads to robots.

Photo credit: RaeA

Discuss this article with other subscribers

Increase your chances of cricketing success by becoming an athlete

Today's article is a guest post by cricket coach John Hurley. You can read more tips at his blog and can find him coaching at Activate Cricket Centre in Mortlake, Sydney.

Imagine how successful you would be if you managed to find some sort of activity that would give your players a significant edge over 90% of their competitors.

Having watched and participated in many sports at a variety of levels, it seems to me that cricket is a sport played by many people who are "non-athletes".

By this I mean many cricketers have difficulties making athletic movements.

  1. We are always told that all the great cricket teams were good fielding sides. Perhaps they were good fielding sides because they were athletic.
  2. Great batsman are agile and well balanced at the crease and frequently good at a range of sports. Perhaps this is because they apply sound athletic principles to whatever sport they play.
  3. Great bowlers frequently have actions that are graceful and efficient. They are balanced and powerful and capable of long accurate spells. Perhaps they are all these things because they are athletic in their approach.

Cricketers are not intrinsically less athletic than their peers from other sports. Cricket is seen as such a technical sport so that young players are taught cricket specific technique, rather than learning to be athletic.

So recently I have been training my clients, ranging in age from 10 to 25, to move athletically: To train as athletes who play cricket.

Accelerated technical development

These players technical development has accelerated as a result of the change in training regime. They feel more balanced and powerful as well as agile and more body aware.

So if you’d like to try and make yourself (or if you are a coach: your players) more athletic, you might like to try some of the following.

Strengthen the posterior chain: The set of muscles including the lower back, glutes, hamstrings and calves and encourage greater hip flexibility and strength. These muscles are generally associated with developing greater speed and explosive running power.

To develop these muscles, drills involving step ups and step downs from a low box are performed.

Stepping down from a low box fires many muscles in the posterior chain and hip. Stepping up works the same muscles, but in a different manner making the extension and contraction of the muscles used for running, bowling and lunging to a straight drive stronger and more easily controlled. This is because you are accelerating and decelerating the limbs. Controlling these big movements is the essence of athleticism.

By stepping down from a box with the point of one foot, deliberately to a set of specified positions, this control can be practised and enhanced. A set of 15 steps to a particular point is sufficient to work the appropriate set of muscles. Once 15 reps have been completed, the player should turn around and perform 15 reps of the same movement with the other leg.

Players should always remember to train both sides of the body.

A workout may include 2 sets of 15 reps to each of the following points: straight down; forward 20cms; 20cms out at 900; and 20cms back at 450.

Moving faster

Once a strength base is evident in the posterior chain and of course the core, you can introduce basic sprinting drills focusing again on controlling the arms and the legs and using them efficiently.

Drills such as high knees, pawbacks, reaches, skipping and bounding will all enhance the players running form and efficiency and contribute significantly to improving the speed and quality of the individuals cricket-specific movements.

These sprint drills should be performed over 10 to 20m for the less explosive movements like walking and jogging; and 5 to 10m for the bounds which must be performed very explosively.

Agility drills compliment these activities, but it is important that the player must be encouraged to perform the drills in an athletic manner. i.e. at top speed, with balance and co-ordinating his/her arm and leg movements and making straight lines.

Skipping with a rope is just about unbeatable as an athletic activity that has multiple benefits: Improving co-ordination, endurance and agility. You can continually challenge yourself to get better at it and the fact that the rope is so portable, I believe every cricketer should have a skipping rope in their kit.

Most of the drills mentioned can be viewed on my coaching blog at hurlsweb.blogspot.com

The more strength and endurance work a player can do that incorporates athletic drills, the greater the positive impact on actual their cricket performance.

I believe making players more athletic as they develop their cricket specific technique could be significant in making players more successful in a relatively short space of time.

So make yourself an athlete as well as a cricketer. Or as a coach, making your players athletes will make your job that much easier.

Photo credit: Alan1954

Discuss this article with other subscribers

Ask the Coaches: Throwing

Send your questions on any cricket related topic to us using the question form here.

This week we discuss how to improve your throwing distance and how to make it as a professional cricketer. Both can be pretty tough, depending how talented you are.

"I find it very hard to get good distance on outfield throws. Are there any tips for getting good distance on throwing the ball from the boundary?"

Throwing for distance is a combination of technique, timing, strength and power. It's something you need to practice a lot to make significant improvements.

Make sure you are throwing in practice as well as in games. You don't need to wait for formal sessions. Just take a ball and throw it around a field, or throw other things. The more you throw the better you will get.

It's difficult to discuss throwing technique as I have not seen how you throw. Generally speaking you need to coordinate your whole body so more power goes into the ball. Make sure you are transferring your weight forward and following through fully. The timing will come with practice. If you have a good coach they can help.

Power does not just come from timing though. If you have stronger muscles you will be able to propel the ball further. 2-3 times a week do some fitness training.

Focus on multi-joint movements that combine coordination with power. Simple options include clap press ups, squat jumps and inverted rows. If you have access to weights you could add in high pulls, cleans or medicine ball throws.

It's also important to do mobility drills before training and to stretch every day. This will increase the range of motion around your joints which increase the distance you can throw.

If you are throwing a lot of balls, I would also strongly suggest you do some protective exercise to reduce the risk of injury. Put rotator cuff work in your warm up and make sure you are doing a variety of pulling exercises in your fitness training such as rows and chin ups.

As you don't mention your age, I would add that if you are still growing you will find your strength improving as your get older. Stay flexible, do plenty of strength and coordination work and most importantly, don't wait until match day to try out your distance.

"My desire is to play professional cricket what do I have to do to prove myself that I'm good enough to play county level?" - Aman

This type of question is very common on miCoach. It's something I have discussed in detail here and Ian Pont talks about on the miCoach Cricket Show.

What it really boils down to for both Ian and I are two things: talent and commitment.

You can get by with talent (if you have enough). If you are slower to pick up the skills required, you need that extra commitment.

I genuinely believe that commitment is more important. If you put in enough hours of quality practice, get good coaching, live a healthy lifestyle, eat right, push your case to the right people and develop a strong mental attitude you can become a success.

The question then becomes: Are you prepared to live as a 24 hour cricketer to make it?

Most people who play cricket will not make that commitment. At some point they will have decided that the cost outweighs the benefit and they are 'not good enough'. Getting good is more a matter of time and commitment than it is talent.

The talented get good more quickly, the less talented need longer but everyone can do better and perhaps even make it, if you show you really want it.

That's all the questions for this week. You can submit your own questions here.

Photo credit: Zunami

Discuss this article with other subscribers

5 Sure-fire ways to play aggressive cricket

Will playing attacking cricket get you better results than playing the percentage game?

You can have both.

Fast bowling, big spinning and hard hitting are fun, but cricket is a subtle game. Even Twenty20 has nuances. The best brand of aggressive cricket you can play is the selective type. Aggression is a mindset, not an on/off switch.

Fielding Drills: Over the shoulder number

Purpose: To practice both underarm pickup returns and catching a high ball over the shoulder.

Description: This drill is done in pairs and is a good fielding warm up. The players stand 20m opposite each other with one ball. The player with the ball rolls the ball along the ground so his partner can pick up the ball and underarm it back. Once the ball has been returned it is instantly thrown back over the players head so a catch can be taken over the shoulder. The drill can then be repeated for the other player.


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


(c) 2008 miSport

To unsubscribe eMail us with the subject "UNSUBSCRIBE (your email)"
Issue: 7
Date: 2008-08-15