What Facebook Teaches About Cricket Advice | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

What Facebook Teaches About Cricket Advice

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"The worst vice is advice" - Al Pacino in The Devil's Advocate

There is a strange thing that happens on the PitchVision Academy Facebook page, and it teaches something about human nature that you can take into your cricket.


You see, every day I post a video of a player using the PitchVision system from the thousands that hit our servers and here's the thing;

Every post gets a pile of coaching comments, mostly focusing on the technical flaws. Everyone has an opinion.

The thing is, that's not just true on Facebook. It happens every week in nets as players advise each other, the coach chips in with his thoughts and after practice there is usually a parent, uncle or even passing bystander with a pithy solution to all your cricketing issue.

Everyone has an opinion.

As the player in the middle of all this noise, how are you supposed to process it and turn it into something you can use? After all, you are supposed to go on the field with an uncluttered mind, yet there is never more clutter around to get into your head!

The death of the textbook

Now more than ever we know that most elements of technique are negotiable. The textbook is long gone and everything is open to the power of difference.

Sure, you have to hold the bat by the handle. I can't think of any successful cricketers who bat with the hands the wrong way round. You probably need to keep your eyes level and head still. Probably.

After that, all bets are off: Trigger moves, backlifts, hand dominance, shoulder position, scoring areas... everything else on the list is open to differences.

It's a similar picture for bowling.

When you realise this, you start to realise how useless advice becomes unless it is highly specific to you.

If someone posts on Facebook that you need to "keep your front foot straight" after seeing your video, you might want to take that advice. It certainly sounds sensible. It has the word straight in it. What if that is the secret to success that you have been missing all along?

Except, it probably isn't. The advice was given out of any context. The well-meaning advisor could be the world's greatest coach (or just some guy who has only ever watched some cricket on TV) he or she doesn't know your way of playing so at best it's throwing a dart at a board in the pitch darkness.

A better way to handle advice

This is not to have a go at Facebook. Or the advisor. Social media has provided a way to communicate instantly and that is a powerful tool.

Let's assume that all advice is well meaning from wherever it comes. You still need to make sure it's right.

So it's here you can use a simple system of turning good advice into runs and wickets while avoiding the bad stuff:

  1. Collect. Before acting on advice you need to capture it, most likely in a place that is not your head. If you try and keep it in your brain you will end up trying to follow the advice before you know if it's any good. Be strong. Say "thank you" and note it down.
  2. Process. Sit down with each bit of advice and think it through mindfully. First decide if it's worth exploring. If not, chuck it out (or file it away for trying another time).
  3. Organise and Review. If it's worth doing, you need to decide how you are going to do it. Most changes are not trivial. You need to put some work in and that means planning how you will the change. Sure, if it's simple then just do it, but if it takes time you will have to put aside some training sessions.
  4. Do it. The final step is the most obvious. As a result most people just straight to "doing" without any form of mental processing beforehand. As we know, this is fraught with dangers.

It may seem over the top to take an offhand comment on Facebook and turn it into a full blown review. The fact is, this whole procedure may take 10 seconds (if you decide the advice is no good). For other advice you will certainly want to think about it for longer.

The key is that you are mindfully reviewing everything within the context of your game. You know better than anyone what works for you. While you might not always be right, you will always have a better hit rate than the combined advice of everyone else.

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technique is flexible... to a point. There's a reason why every professional batsman of the past 20 years plays his straight bat shots with his head over the line and the bat coming through straight. Yet no child does this instinctively, it must be taught. and significant deviation from this ideal doesn't lead to innovation, only to failure.

Agreed. Driving does need to be taught (or more accurately, learned) as it is not instinct. So do many other techniques. The question then becomes, how is this learned?

Imagine the differences in methods between a player brought up playing street cricket in India to an English public schoolboy. "Straight bat" works in both cases, the difference is how each player defines "straight" and what outcome works best for that player taking conditions and match situation into account.

The point is, it's always a complex picture and everything can and should be considered mindfully. Even the sacred straight bat.

I would imagine it takes a lot longer for kids to figure out the benefits of a straight bat shot on their own rather than being shown it.

and thats assuming they're using a low bouncing ball like a cricket ball when being able to drive is necessary/beneficial... A person could play his whole life batting against a tennis ball and never need to play a drive.

Hi Dave,

Great article. Two points that stand out for me.

- "The advice was given out of any context" - cricket is not the only victim and social media does compound this effect. Like your points on how to handle advice.

- the second factor possibly you have not clarified but could be indicated in your article by "think it through mindfully" . From the link calmness best describes it.

One should recognize the emotion that is created from advice and work on managing that emotion in context. A possible way of tackling the advice is just being "curious without any judgment" and you spot on to say "thank you".