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Animated Fielding Drills Get Fit For Cricket


I'm a big fan of fitness training for cricketers.

In a game of opinions, it's one of the few areas that is proven to work to make players better. Who can argue with the scientists?

Plus, I like to work out personally and it has certainly helped me stay at the top of my game for longer, so that's an obvious influence.

This week we take the lid off some aspects of fitness in cricket that are often overlooked. Namely, what exercises are best for the most cross-over to the pitch and how to introduce "fitness" to players as young as 5 years old!

Hint: It's not like adult fitness at all.

Finally, for the hard working bowlers, I give you another way to get some more wickets. I appreciate what you have to do every game, even if those prima-donna batsman don't!

Have a great weekend,


David Hinchliffe

How to exploit batting weaknesses: Low backlift

This is part of a series on How to exploit batsman's weaknesses. To see the other weaknesses click here.

The low backlift is seen at every level from school matches to Tests. Yet, at lower levels it's a batting weakness that can be used to your advantage.

Not every batsman with a low backlift will be as good as Paul Collingwood because a low backlift is very limiting to technique. Here is what you can do when you see a player with this problem.

How to spot the weakness

There are two types of low backlift, but they both are obvious, especially from the side.

The cocked wrists version looks like this:
Here the batsman has picked the bat up with his hands and wrists only, keeping his front arm straight, stopping the classic diamond shape from being formed.

The second form of low backlift is similar, looking like this:

Again there is no diamond shape because the batter has not bent his elbows and raised the hands above his hips. The result is a backlift that barely gets over the stumps.

Why is it weakness?

From a low position, the batsman is limiting his scoring options and becomes especially vulnerable to good spin bowling.

When the hands are left low it's difficult to use gravity to generate enough force to have a good swing. As a result the batsman with the low backlift tends to compensate by jabbing at the ball and using the bottom hand to create power.

This has two effects:

1.    When hitting straight bat shots the ball tends to go more leg side as the batsman hits across it with a strong bottom hand

2.    When driving on the front foot the ball is more likely to go in the air.


A low backlift can also be a sign of low confidence. It's natural to compensate, say, for getting bowled by lowering the backlift, so the batter will be harder to get out if he is bent on defence, but not so clever when he is attacking.

How to bowl to a low backlift

Err on the side of a fuller length as the low backlift player drives in the air. If you bowl short because of the strong bottom hand the batter can cut and pull easily.

Your line is best on the off side as the batsman is strong on the leg side.

Put the batter under pressure with short midwicket and extra cover when he or she is first in to show you know his or her weakness.

Another tactic is to exploit any extra bounce in the wicket. With such low hands there is a good chance of gloving the ball against both spin and seam.

If your bowling is getting extra bounce get in a short leg, leg gulley or both.

Combine this with a field to cut off his favoured shots. For example, here is a sample field:

In this field a seamer is bowling on a bouncy wicket and wickets are the priority. The captain has hedged his bets a bit. He has a slip, short extra and short midwicket for the drives and a leg gulley for the short ball. Deep midwicket is set back to stop the batsman shovelling the ball over the top (his best shot).

The final tip to getting a low backlift batsman out is to keep him or her in the game. A low backlift on a blocker stops becoming a flaw and starts becoming an advantage.

In limited over matches this isn't a problem, but if the draw is possible you need a captain who can dangle the carrot to prevent the batsman blocking out.

Want to improve your skills so you can bowl to these tactics or iron out your batting weaknesses? PitchVision Academy has an online coaching course to help you from the world's finest coaches.


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The 4 best exercises for cricket fitness (part 1)
I'm not interested in exercises.

I'm interested in how to run faster, throw further, stay injury free, score runs and take wickets.

Because that's all exercises are; a means to an end.

As a cricketer, the best exercise in the world is useless if it doesn't help you play better cricket.

Nevertheless, one of the most common cricket-fitness questions we get here on PitchVision Academy is "which exercises should I do?"

So it's about time I answered it.

And here are those exercises. Every cricketer should look to put these movements into a training plan no matter what his or her age or goal. That's why I popped the best variations in there too.

1. Squatting

Believe the hype about squats you hear from your strength training obsessed friends.

Squats are the fastest way build strength in the legs and strength means more power with less injuries. They are also a powerful way to improve mobility in the hips.

But squats are misunderstood. Meathead gym rats insist they only count if you have a bar on your back and at least 3 plates on either side. Bad personal trainers, meanwhile, insist anything bigger than a pink dumbbell will blow you up to the size of a house.

The truth is that squat is a powerful and flexible exercise that is adaptable to your needs as a cricketer. It's just a matter of picking the right squatting tool for the job.

The main types are:
  • Barbell back squat. Used mainly in the winter to build up strength with low reps.
  • Barbell front squat. A more difficult version of the back squat that focuses on core strength. I admit I prefer this version to the back squat even though you can't squat as much weight.
  • Goblet squat. An easy way to start squatting. Teaches you the correct technique of "sitting back" and getting your thighs low.
  • Bodyweight squat. Best used for conditioning as part of a bodyweight circuit or similar. It can also be put into a warm up.
  • Split Squat. A more cricket specific version of the squat as it builds strength on one leg. You can go heavy with a barbell, train the core more with a dumbbell or kettlebell, or just use bodyweight.
  • Single Leg Squat. A way to learn body awareness (which prevents injury). To squat this way well you need to be both stable and mobile as you move your body.

And, er, there is not much cricketing reason to squat on a BOSU ball or Swiss ball; unless you are a clown during the week that is.

2. Deadlifting

The deadlift is for the hips what the squat is for the knees; more strength, mobility and stability. It's one of the most natural movements we do: bending down and picking something off the floor. Despite that, it's rarely trained to be strong and efficient.

I think this, again, is due to the bad image of deadlifts. It's not just for bodybuilders and powerlifters bending the bar with huge weights. Heck, even granddads have to bend down to pick stuff up.

For cricket the best variations are:
  • Barbell Deadlift. Hard to learn with proper technique but when mastered can strengthen the muscles in your lower back, bum and hamstrings.
  • Trap Bar Deadlift. Less popular but slightly better version of the barbell deadlift. It's better because it's much harder to do with poor technique so there is less injury risk. Go heavy with good form and low reps.
  • Stiff Leg Deadlift. A simple way to overload the critical 'hip extension' movement that we see in running, so good for injury prevention. Is better done as a single leg exercise (the movement is closer to running). Can be done with dumbbell, barbell or kettlebell.  

It's tough to train the deadlift movement without any equipment at all, but you can train hip extension without deadlifting. If you have no access to equipment try the cook hip lift.

The single leg, straight leg deadlift done without weight can also be used as a way to groove the movement if you throw it into a warm up or light session.

In part two we look at the upper body movements that are best for cricket. Click here to get the free newsletter and not miss it.

image credit: bepositivelyfit

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The 4 best exercises for cricket fitness (part 2)

In part 1 of this 2 part series we looked at the best lower body exercises for cricket. This article focuses on the upper body.

3. Pulling

I'm not talking about going to bars and chatting up lovelies here. Pulling exercises improve your cricket.

The right choices of exercise will stabilse your shoulders. This allows you to generate more power throwing, bowling and striking the ball. Strong back and shoulder muscles also prevent injury.

Then there is the added benefit of bicep hypertrophy or, as we sport scientists call it, providing a couple of tickets to the gun show. That one is for the ladies rather than the runs and wickets.

The best upper body pulling exercises for cricketers are:

  • Chin ups/pull ups. Hard to do but the king of horizontal pulling exercises. If you can't do one unassisted use one of these assistance tricks until you can. If you can, crank them out at least once a week. You shoulders will love you forever.
  • Rows. Rows train the movement of vertical pulling. This is important for overall shoulder health, and also to balance out the more popular pressing movements we talk about later. You can row in a number of ways: with a barbell for compound strength, with a seated machine for scapular retraction, with a dumbbell or kettlebell to focus on one arm, with a suspension trainer for increased core strength or as barbell inverted rows. Each has slightly different benefits, but any variation will do.

Like deadlifting, training pulling without any equipment is impossible. You either need something of a suitable weight to pull, or something of a suitable height to pull your body towards. An overhanging tree branch might be enough, but you do need something.

4. Pushing

And if we pull stuff, we have to push stuff to balance it out. So while upper body pushing is the least applicable to cricket skills, it's just as vital to make sure we don't have any imbalances between the front and back.

(The more imbalance you have, the greater the risk of injury).

It's important to remember that balance thing for another reason too. It's much easier to do pushing exercises (you can do push ups anywhere) and most men like the results of bigger chesticles to look at in the mirror (c'mon admit it).

Those two facts mean you focus too much on pushing, leading to the dreaded imbalance.

So while important, you need to tread carefully with these exercises:

  • Bench press. When done correctly, bench pressing is a solid exercise for building all round strength and shoulder stability. Vary the methods often between barbells, dumbbells, grip position and incline, but don't try and cover every angle in one go.
  • Push up. Push ups are not as good for sheer strength as the bench press, but are superior in many other ways. Push ups strengthen the core because you have to keep your stomach braced while doing them.
  • Overhead press. Pressing above your head is not strictly vital but for complete balance you can throw a few sets in if they don't hurt (they can do if you have a bum shoulder). Use a barbell with a higher weight and low reps for strength and dumbbells with a neutral grip as a variation.

I've thrown out a lot of variations in this article. That's because there are a lot of exercises to choose from. But the important thing to remember is that the exercises are probably the last thing you look at when picking up an exercise programme. They are the final pieces in a bigger jigsaw that is based on goals, available equipment and the time of year.

But when you drill down to the detail, picking these exercises over more traditional bodybuilding style isolation moves with save you time in the gym and yield better results on the pitch.

If you enjoyed this series, subscribe to the free weekly coaching newsletter for more coaching advice that you can shake your cricket bat at.


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Coaches: Don't ignore strength and conditioning for your young players

If you are not working on strength and conditioning with the players you coach you are missing a chance to improve their cricket.

Yet it's common to not bother. At club, representative and school level coaches avoid the world of fitness. They stick to what they know; skills work with a few high intensity fielding drills thrown in to gas everyone.

That's simply not enough. Not if you want results as a coach.

Cricket Show 75: Kabir Khan, wicketkeeping and batting concentration

PitchVision Academy Cricket ShowNic Northcote joins the show to answer you cricket coaching questions on his specialist subject wicketkeeping. If you like his answers pick up a copy of Nic's excellent eBook: Wicket-Keeping: The Ultimate Guide to Mastering the Art.


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: 94
Date: 2010-04-16