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Berries, foam and behavioural psychology. Admit it, not the first three things you associate with cricket. But they can be useful for cricket at any level as we find out this week.

For the more traditional readers who want to talk actual cricket we also have part three of Gary Palmer's trigger move guide and a miCricketCoach Show packed with cricket tips.

Have a great weekend,


David Hinchliffe

Cricket training secrets: Foam rolling

This is part one of a series of tips that are often overlooked by traditional cricket coaches. All are proven to give you the edge but because they don't originate in the cricket world have not been picked up by the mainstream of players yet. That's why we are calling the series "training secrets". This secret is about foam rolling.

The cricket team I play in has a variety of ages from teenagers to early forties. At least half of them mention they are feeling sore before play, and everyone gets stiff after the match. Hips, back, ankles and thighs all can suffer.

It's more than annoying though. Even mild pain can damage your technique.

That's because your natural range of motion is reduced when muscles and tendons are enflamed and sore. The stiffer you are the harder it is to get through your action or get into position to play your shots. Even worse, the more sore you are the more likely you are to get injured.

Step in the friend of the cricketer and the enemy of muscle soreness: the foam roller.

Foam rolling is like a cheap massage. It allows you to relax your muscles, get rid of painful knots and scar tissue and get your range of motion back to normal. Not a bad deal for a small tube of foam.

Why isn't everyone doing it?

Go to the average cricket ground or gym and you won't see too many foam rollers being used. It's far from a conventional technique. So what gives? If it's so good why isn't everyone doing it?

I think the mean reason is cricket's conservative attitude. It takes a long time for new ideas to come in. Take the reverse sweep. Yes, it's an unconventional and risky shot but it has been around for over 30 years and is still considered new and fangled by some.

What chance has foam rolling got when it comes from a background in physiotherapy and not cricket?

That's kind of why it's still a secret, but that's a good thing. You can use it to get the edge. While all the opposition are getting rid of the cobwebs in the early overs, you are already loose from ball one.

How do you foam roll for cricket?

Foam rolling is simple and doesn't take long to do. The best place to get all the details is the excellent free eBook Self-Myofascial Release: Purpose, Methods, and Techniques by Mike Robertson (ignore the geeky name, it's a great read).

You can pick up a foam roller pretty cheap too (Amazon sell them here) so there is not much of an excuse, especially if you are having problems.

Avoid the foam rolling mistake

One final word of warning though. It's easy to fall in love with your foam roller and use it too much. While spending 40 minutes a day foam rolling is not a bad thing in itself, what usually happens is that people spend time foam rolling instead of other training.

Foam rolling is great for 5 minutes as part of a warm up or cool down but should never replace actual training either in the gym or on the pitch.

But if you suffer from nagging soreness or injuries that won't go away I can't stress enough how much this simple technique will help you become more supple, less injured and a better player.

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How the humble berry can save your cricket

How can a berry improve your cover drive?

Of course, it can't. Not even a strawberry. Not directly anyway. But what it can do is represent something bigger than itself.

I see the berries as a whole attitude. A way of life even: The way of the berry. And this way is the fastest route to becoming a better cricketer.

Let me explain.

Berries are regarded as a 'superfood', one of those unique food types that give you maximum bang for your nutritional buck. Blueberries, blackberries and the rest are packed with healthy antioxidants, those magical molecules that beat off free radicals.

Why should you care about that?

Well, free radicals are nasty. They damage your body's cells and are linked to a number of nasties like heart disease, cancer and diabetes. The antioxidants in healthy foods like berries are on hand to counter the damage.

So if you eat berries you eat other healthy foods

And if you eat other healthy foods you exercise and get enough sleep

And if you do those things you are looking after yourself

And cricketers who look after themselves are better than those who don't.

That's a fact I re-discovered first hand recently. I had been on a Christmas night out and didn't get to bed until the small hours of the morning. The next day, hungover, I ate very little: A sausage sandwich and a curry in the evening (not a berry in sight).

I still wasn't at my best on Monday morning when I took my usual trip to the gym. Normally Monday is front squat day so I set up my usual weight for four sets of six reps (75kg (165lb) if you are counting). I didn't add any weight but I knew I could do the work and was trying to account for me not feeling my best.

I choked completely.

I only managed a couple of sets of six, one set of four and bailed out completely of the last set.

I had lost the way of the berry and the Gods were punishing me (in a manner of speaking).

It's easy to realise how badly I would have done if I was playing cricket that day. After all, my job as keeper requires not only squats but reactions and jumping around. All things that were broken for me because I had not looked after myself.

The moral of the story is that I needed to get my berries. Not to make any direct influence on my game, but to prove I am serious.

And if you are serious too you won't ignore the cranberries and raspberries.

Or the greens, or the exercise, or the extra training or the fitness work or the sleep. Each part is an investment in your game.

But itall starts with an attiude personified by a berry.

image credit: darwin bell

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Do you make mistakes with your batting trigger move?

This is part 3 of a 3 part series on trigger moves by Gary Palmer. To go to part 1 click here, to go to part 2 click here

In this free video Gary Palmer shows you The common mistakes batsmen make when making a trigger move. Get it wrong and you can end up in a poor position that is more likely to get you out.

You can find out more about Gary Palmer's coaching at www.ccmacademy.co.uk. If you can't get to Gary for coaching advice, why not bring him to you by buying an online course at PitchVision Academy?

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5 Ways to convince the skeptics to change tactics and training

As a miCricketCoach reader you know more than most club cricketers about how to improve your game. But what about the rest of the team?

In my experience cricketers are a conservative lot. There are still plenty of players who look at you out of the corner of the eye if you suggest gym work, or baulk at the idea that a warm up needs to be more than a quick cigarette and a couple of arm whirls.

Cricket show 59: Secrets of success

It's Kevin's last show of the year as he goes off for his holidays so the show is packed to the rafters. Gary Palmer is back with more batting tips and Alan Crouch, Head of Performance at Wiltshire cricket. We also answer questions on:


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: 77
Date: 2009-12-18