Monday, 28 April 2014

BOWLING : How to start bowling leg spin

Being able to bowl leg spin well is rare quality; if you do that then you are valuable to any captain at any level.

But where do you start?

Good leg spinners seem to need so much; a canny tactical awareness, steely personality, and a phalanx of variations on top of a fizzing, dipping leg break that turns a foot on any wicket.

It’s not as bad as it seems.

Leg spin bowling may be an art, but it’s one that can be learned.

If you are a young bloke who wants to master this art but have little experience, start simple and build up.

Before you start

But the first thing you need to do before bowling your first leg break is ask yourself a simple question:

Are you prepared to throw yourself into becoming a leg spinner?

Without passion and dedication to the art you will always be the comedy occasionally leggie who bowls a series of long hops and full tosses interspersed with the odd magic ball from nowhere.

You need to be ready to:

  • Practice longer and harder than anyone else
  • Put up with batsman in the nets and matches slogging you all over the place with no respect
  • Get through the early period of having no control of even your stock ball
  • Deal with unique issues, like the ‘googly syndrome’
  • Have captains who don’t understand spinners and under bowl you, or take you off after you get hit for a four.
  • Keep spinning the ball hard, even when things are going wrong.

If you can work your way through all these issue and still love running up and giving the ball a rip then you can call yourself a true leggie.

Welcome to the club. 

The basics of leg spin

So what are the basic rules when you are starting out?

Start by gripping the ball with your fingers across the seam like this:

When you bowl, do it from sideways on and make your wrist and fingers roll over the ball to it spins in the air and turns off the pitch.

You are looking to land the ball, according to the leg spin maestro Shane Warne, 6 feet from the batting crease so the batsman is playing forward but not quite full enough to drive.

Anything too short will give batsman the time to pick it whereas anything too full won’t allow you spin for the batsman will play it before it starts turning.

The best line is the ball pitching on middle and off stump and moving away from the right handed batsman. This line increases the chances of batsman getting an edge.  On turning wickets you may have to bowl middle stump or even middle and leg.

Of course, all this is easy to say but awfully difficult to do.



UMPIRING : Fair or even: The dilemma every player-umpire faces

Would you cheat when you do your umpiring stint? 

Imagine standing at the bowler’s end, hearing and seeing the slight nick and not giving it out. That’s cheating.

I was returning to the game after a 5-year absence. During the second game, we were in the field, I was wicket keeping and we had appeal after appeal turned down by the opposition umpires. I was convinced a couple of times that the batsman had got an edge, or been plumb in front.

The umpire didn’t agree.

At the level I play, there are rarely appointed umpires, so players from the batting team fill in.

During the break our captain came over to me and said because their umpires had been strict, we should have the same attitude. Don’t give them anything. Be strict on the wides.

Then it got worse.

He told me to throw in a few no balls, don’t give anything out LBW and unless the batsman walks, do not put the finger up for any edges.

I was flabbergasted.

This is my new team. My new captain and here he is asking me to cheat. What is even worse, after 14 overs one of our batsman got a slight edge and I stood still.

No finger.

I’m still not sure why I didn’t give him out. Then the bowler started screaming at me, opposition captain running over, pointing his finger, calling me a cheat. I had cheated. Thankfully, a couple of wickets fell soon after and I was due to bat. I walked into the changing room.

Our captain gave me a pat on the back, for cheating.

I could not stop thinking about it. New team, new captain, early season game and I hated it.

I spoke to the captain in the pub at the end of the game. I explained it was wrong, to me anyway, to umpire is the same manner as the opposition team. Yes, they had been wrong, and we did win the game. Our best batsman, the person who edged it, who I did not give out, got a run-a-ball 80 to see us home. I did not enjoy the victory and tried to convey this to the captain. He nodded, and did not ask me to umpire for the rest of the season.

I left after that one season.

The lesson taught me that you have to think about your approach to the game. Here are my tips to anyone else in the same dilemma:

  • Decide how you want to play the game.
  • Do not be afraid to speak your mind, the other players will respect you for it in the long run.
  • If you are ever asked to umpire, and you are sure the batsman is out, always give them out. The game is meaningless without integrity. Moreover, so is any subsequent victory.
  • Strict umpiring is different from blatant cheating. Remember, the benefit of the doubt always goes to the batsman.
  • Enjoy umpiring, it can teach you a lot about the rules, how the pitch is playing and the opposition bowlers.



Sunday, 27 April 2014

COACHING : How to stop wasting net sessions (and what to do instead)

Every year for more than 20 seasons I have gone through the same ritual after Christmas with a variety of club cricket teams.

The kitbag is dragged from the shed, and I find myself in a dusty sports hall trying to reacquaint myself with the faces of my team-mates that I haven’t seen for months.

The bowler’s have a little stretch while the batsmen fight about who is going to go first (or second actually, because no one wants to go first).

The wicketkeeper bowls.

Nobody fields.

After 55 minutes we realise 3 people have not had a bat and the wicketkeeper is still bowling. The last man in has a desperate thrash against tired bowlers.

And then we all go for a pint.

Except in recent years we have tried to make nets a bit less of an excuse to gossip and complain about the committee and more of a valuable time to make improvements.

Not many clubs can emulate the professional teams, but they can in spirit at least.

Of course, the old lags put up resistance, but even the craggiest complainer can overcome his inertia with these simple changes:

1. Hold back on pulling out the nets

I know time is limited, but there is no need for everyone to dash to pull out the nets.

There are more ways to practice than that.

Every player can benefit from what I’m going to loosely call a ‘warm up’ (it’s not really a warm up but it’s a good way to trick players into doing non-net stuff). You can use the entire list below or just pick out the bits least likely to cause resistance:

  • Foam rolling/stretching. 5 minutes on a foam roller can make a huge difference to performance in the long term. If the club can splash out on buying a few then it’s an easy win.
  • Mobility/stability. A few mobilisation exercises before you start batting and bowling will help prevent injury (especially important in the cold of pre- and early season) and increase power. Here are some examples of simple exercises you can do with minimal equipment.
  • Power development. If you have some basic equipment handy you can help improve leg and upper body power in players with some simple plyometrics style drills. The focus is not on high impacts but learning how to jump and land efficiently. Find out more here.
  • Speed development. Simple technical drills for speed are quick and easy to implement in the warm up and improve players ability to run between the wickets and chase balls down in the field. Plus with a competitive element they can be a lot of fun.
  • Grooving. Very few club players spend time improving technique, but just a few minutes with a tennis ball and some simple drills will crossover to better technique in the middle. Find out more about how to set up grooving drills with a team here.

If you did everything on the list the warm-up would last about 2 hours, so there is no need to do it all. Just pick stuff you can do quickly and move on from. 15 minutes is the most you want to spend here if you have only an hour’s net session a week.

2.  Field first

One season my team really worked hard on our fielding during the off season. For the first 5 games we fielded like demons then bad weather stopped us practicing, we got out of the habit and started fielding like fools again.

The moral of the story is simple. Practice fielding as often as possible.

But it’s easy to get in the habit of saying “oh, let’s do fielding at the end” by which time everyone is knackered and conveniently forgets.

So, avoid that by insisting on fielding before anyone picks up a bat or bowls a ball.

Call it a warm up if you like, but always, always field first.

No excuses.

The extra catches and runs saved are worth the pain.

3. Split up the nets

Rather than have everyone bowl while they are waiting to have their 5 minute slog, put a bit of planning in and split nets up.

Here are some ways to be more efficient without upsetting anyone:

  • Bowlers only. It’s a simple fact that bowlers who practice their accuracy become more accurate. It’s easier to do that without a blacksmith at the other end trying to hit you into next week. So take a group of bowlers and put them in a net or two without batsmen then get then bowling at a target. To make it more realistic they can bowl in 6 ball overs.
  • Batsmen only. While the bowlers are doing their thing, get the batsmen to practice technique against a bowling machine, throwdowns or a sidearm. The trick here is to feed balls again and again in the same area to work on improving a specific shot. Don’t mix it up too much.
  • Virtual game. You can still have traditional style nets of course, but give them more of a purpose. Tell the players the game situation and set up a scoring system (for example a straight drive gives you 4, a defensive shot gives you 1). Have the batsmen bat in pairs and see what score they can get before a wicket falls. This is helping with both tactics and mental prep rather than being aimless.
  • Wicketkeepers. Find a space for keepers to practice somewhere too. If you have 2-3 keepers then they can practice together. If there is only one guy then find a batsman who doesn’t need to do bowling practice to help with thrown downs. There is usually one person keen to get out of doing his bowling stint.

A variation of the virtual game is the BATEX drill which plays an mp3 or CD of how many runs the batsmen has to score that over. You can get the files for BATEX here

4.  Keep a record

We all love to know our averages from matches (admit, you do) but we rarely track performance in practice. To me that’s silly because it’s easy to do and shows you what type of practice works best.

So if you bowl, track how accurate you are. If you bat, keep a record of how many runs you get in the virtual game. Track it from week to week and see what practice makes the biggest difference.

5. Don’t forget to have that pint

Relaxing after practice is important too. We have all seen the person who is too focused and intense. This just tenses you up and the best players are smooth, relaxed and flowing, not tight and clenched.

So have that post-practice drink, relax, have fun and forget about cricket once practice is over.

It’s true that club players have a different approach to the professionals, but if you are clever and assertive you can work with what you have to help make practice that little bit better

And make the team that little bit better come matchday.



FIELDING : 5 Sure-fire wicketkeeping techniques that work

So you want to take up wicketkeeping but you are worried your hands will be like Teflon and your feet buried in concrete?

Don’t fear.

Coming soon we will have some exclusive new free content to take you from total beginner to high-class stumper

But until then, follow these simple tips (and work on your chirping) and before you know it you will be on the way to becoming the hub of the fielding unit.

1. Positioning

The ‘keeper stands away or near to wickets depending upon the type of bowler. Law requires you to have all your body behind the stumps; if any part is in front of stumps before the ball reaches the batsman it is called a no-ball.

When keeping to a right hander, your left foot is line of the middle stump. This angle proves helpful as most balls are taken outside off stump.

Keep yourself well balanced and alert. If you are keeping to a fast bowler, judge the position where the elevation of the ball starts to decrease, that would be the ideal place for you to stand.

2. Stance

After you have positioned yourself according to the speed of the bowler, be ready to catch the ball.

Keep your eye on the ball from the moment bowler starts to run in. When bowler starts his run up, go into a comfortable crouching position. As the ball pitches, rise with it (getting up too early leads to missing balls that stay low).

3. Taking the ball

When the ball reaches, catch it with relaxed but strong hands. Have a steady head with your eyes on the ball all the way into the gloves. Your hands should be in line of your body and ideally you should take the ball below your chest.

Your fingers will usually be pointing downwards as most takes will be below chest height. Keep your thumbs comfortably apart to create a wide catching area. The ball should be caught in palm of the gloves not in fingers.

4. Footwork

Be ready to move your body across quickly to catch the ball. Get your head straight in line of the ball, by shuffling your feet quickly sideways but staying facing the bowler.  You won’t be able to get into line every ball, but the intent must be there.

5. Diving

Diving often compensates for poor footwork so make sure you are moving your feet well if you find you dive a lot.

However, diving becomes necessary for the keeper when the ball is hopelessly out of his standing range. A thick edge on the ball would make it go away from you so you have to dive to take the ball.

When you are standing up from the crouch position, you are on your toes, weight evenly distributed, which allow you to execute a dive easily. Try and look to catch the ball with two hands, but one hand expands your diving reach and looks spectacular.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

COACHING : 7 Tips for brilliant cricket coaching

Cricket is not only about skill, intellect is also required to play cricket. It’s not a brainless sport, in fact it is the most ‘scientifically technical’ sport in the world. So if you have to have perfect technique and an intelligent brain to play cricket, you have be to step ahead to become a good coach. Here are some tips you can find useful while coaching cricketers:


1. Constructing the Mental Attitude towards the Game


This is a first step in any form of the coaching. Motivate your players into playing cricket passionately. If he doesn’t bear love for the game, he won’t be any good at it, no matter what you do. It’s the coach’s task to develop a positive attitude and mental strength. A good coach always has a “yes, you can do it” approach.


2. Control and Discipline


No player is bigger than the game. A trouble-maker should be off the team no matter how good a player he is. A good coach will make it clear that performance and teamwork are required. Your training routine should be strictly followed and if a player is violating your code, he needs to be controlled.


3. Teaching a Beginner


Tying a ball with a string and attaching it to the ceiling is an effective old-school technique. Ask the child to hit the ball from the middle of the bat in different directions. This could open up his hitting the ball skills. Next you can throw simple catches at him. You can put a mark on the ground and ask him to try and pitch the ball on that mark, or get him to use PitchVision to track his accuracy. Such exercises can develop basic skills in the earlier stages of a cricket player’s life.


4. Video Demonstrations


It’s powerful to show demonstrational videos of excellent batting, bowling and fielding to your players. A player can learn a lot when you are explaining a video of Sachin Tendulkar batting, Wasim Akram bowling and Jonty Rhodes fielding.


Another use of video is recording the performance of your team and showing it to them later. This way they are given a chance to rectify any errors in their techniques. On the other hand as a coach you can observe each player’s performance very minutely through videos.


5. Batting techniques


It is crucial that a coach picks out any flaws in a batting technique at young age and sets it right. The stance, getting on the front foot, moving to back foot, gap between bat and pad, position of the bat while playing different strokes; are a few things you should pay attention to. A good coach would always know what a player is doing wrong when he sees him play.


6. Bowling tips


Bowling is an ever changing phenomenon in cricket world today. If you are a bowling coach, make sure that you observe the bowling action of a fast bowler. An inccorect action is devastating for a bowler later on. Give the bowler tips about swing, seam and spin depending on the type of bowler you are coaching. Finally make bowlers put in extra effort in the nets, bowl lots of overs in the nets. This not only helps with stamina but also control and skill.


7. Fielding drills


A team with poor fielding simply  their games. But fielding is not one of the most pleasurable things your players would like to do. Fielding is tiring and feels boring, it’s up to you to keep them motivated throughout fielding sessions. Fielding is a very unselfish act and being good at it is crucial in winning games. Make sure you give it the deserved importance.


3 Simple tips for slogging effectively

Picture the scene: You are playing a Twenty20 match and it’s the last few overs. The field is set back and the bowler is trying to bowl yorkers. You need to score at nine an over to win.

It’s time to slog.

Slogging is vital in limited overs format. Despite what your coach may say, there are times when you just have to give it the long handle.

But it’s not all about closing your eyes and swiping it to cow corner.

Here are some of PitchVision Academy’s tips on slogging with brains:

A ‘slog’ can be described as any shot (most commonly through mid wicket and mid on) which is played in the air with the sole objective of scoring a boundary, preferably a six.

Slogging is more of a mindset than technique. It doesn’t matter who the batsman is or who the bowler is, when the time is there to slog you have to go for it whether you are an opener or a tail ender.

So, here are three very simple calculated strategies by which you can improve slogging while keeping risk to a minimum.

1. Analyze the field setup

The fielding team knows that you are going to come after them and they will try to contain you. Calculate the field setting and work out which is the area with least protection. Once you do that you allow yourself a chance to score quick runs.

Any smart captain will reinforce the field in the area you are constantly hitting, so recalculate the preferred areas of slogging regularly. Slogging is done not with the intent of batting out 20 overs in the same way; it is subject to playing a small quick cameo. Therefore in the short time during which you slog, you should look to outsmart the fielding side.

2. Don’t try to hit every ball:

Slogging is not brainless cricket; getting carried away can cause you to lose your wicket very quickly. Slogging in most games is predictable. The fielding side knows when the batsmen will come after them so they look to contain the batsmen. So after you have analyzed the field and decided which areas you would attack most, it is important that you realize that every ball can’t be hit for six.

There is little need for you to play each ball on its merit, but going after every ball would mean that fielding team has more chances of getting you out. If you choose to hit loose balls and decide to let one or two go away, it can prolong your stay at the wicket.

3. Use body momentum when hitting the ball:

Once the field has been analyzed and you have decided that you are going to slog, it’s important that you pay attention to your technique. Never let the bat rotate in your hands, as it would take power off the shot. Put all your energy in the stroke and make sure that follow through is fluent. Halting your body during the stroke or in follow through is  fatal. Any lack of momentum in the shot will scoop the ball in the air and you can get caught.


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

BOWLING : Be a Better Fast Bowler

Fast bowling is an obsession.

Good fast bowlers say that, when they were young, bowling with pace was their passion. If you want to be really fast as a bowler look to build speed first and last.

Just try to bowl quick.

After building genuine pace, it is important for you to perfect your bowling action. Anything lacking in bowling actions would not only make you lose control of your deliveries, it leads to injuries by putting extra stress on a player’s body. Anyone who has played cricket will tell you that changing your bowling action is hard. So it’s important that you stay on the right track from the beginning and develop a decent action which would allow you to bowl fast and achieve greatness.

Here are a few thinks you should look to do when you run in to bowl:

1. Measure Your Run-up

Carefully measure your run-up, no one but you can judge what length would be suitable for you. If you can bowl quick with a short run-up like Wasim Akram then run in from a short run-up. However if you feel that your action requires a run-up like Bret Lee, so be it. What is not acceptable is that you running in to bowl every ball with a different length of run-up, if you do that you won’t be able to control your bowling

2. Tilt Back and Lean Forward while Delivering a Ball

If you want to bowl with pace, it is important that you have the right momentum. The impetus your action will be the extra pace you will be able to generate. Take a swift run in, and just when you are about to deliver, tilt back. Then immediately drive forward when you deliver the ball. By doing this, you should be using your chest muscle and upper body strength. This would generate a lot of pace and a swift follow through. 

3. Bring Down the Front Arm Straight Across

This reduces stress from your back. If you bring down your non bowling arm straight across, it allows you to deliver the full thrust your body without putting extra pressure on any other body part. Bowlers who are late in bringing down their front arm exert pressure on their shoulder blades, and those who bring it down away from the body put killing stress on their back. This again, is not an effective technique of bowling quick but also for a smooth action. Little things like this prolong a bowler’s life.

4. Jerk the Wrist Forward at Point of Delivery

Give your wrist a jerk at the last moment of releasing the ball. This will give you extra pace, and depending upon your grip also some movement off the seam. If you are tall quick, jerking the wrist will also give you some extra bounce.


Monday, 7 April 2014

FIELDING : Adapting cricket drills: Improving skill under pressure

Every team has a net player. Perhaps it’s even you.

The net batsman creams everything around like everyone is bowling pies. The net bowler is capable of, at will, bowling a series of testing out-swingers followed by an in-swinging toe crusher.

These are experienced players who have good enough techniques to do well in practice.

Put them in a real match and they go to pieces.

The difference is pressure.

Walking the plank

Pressure changes everything. It’s the difference between walking along a plank of wood that is a foot off the ground and one that is 100 feet off the ground. It’s the same skill but the latter seems a heck of a lot harder.

The solution is simple; add more pressure to your practice sessions by adapting your drills.

If you were playing the plank of wood game you wouldn’t work on your technique for walking over the plank, you would make the plank slightly higher. Once you were confident you would go higher again. Before you know it you are walking confidently over 50 feet. And once you can do 50 feet you can do 100 feet no hassle.

So how do you ‘make the plank higher’ in your cricket drills?

1. Forget about technique

When you are looking to increase pressure during drills you must forget about technique because you can’t learn or groove skills under pressure.

The goal of the drill becomes about putting already learned skills under as much pressure as possible. That means ignoring technical errors (we all have them).

But these drills are not for beginners. If the player is technically so poor he or she can’t do the drill then you need to take the pressure away and chain or drill him to get standards up, the reintroduce the pressure.

2. Put something on the outcome

Pressure is the sense that an outcome is more important than normal. Stress comes when you feel your skills are not up to the level to deal with that importance.

In other words, to have a confident swagger you need to know for sure you can perform under pressure.

One simple way to do this is to add importance to a simple outcome.

Say you want bowlers to improve their accuracy.

Under a no-pressure situation you would have them bowl in an empty net at a target (say PitchVision or just some cones/chalk), carefully watching where they pitch the ball.

You can add pressure to this easily by saying it’s a shoot out competition. Each bowler gets 5 balls. Hit the target and you get a point. Miss the target and you don’t get a point. Most points wins. If it’s a draw you take it to “sudden death”.

Suddenly a simple target drill has become a serious competition between the bowling unit and no bowler wants to lose (no matter how laid back he pretends he is).

You can do the same with batting and fielding. A great fielding pressure game is simply hitting up catches to players in turn. Every catch sees the player through to the next round. If you drop it you are out and a failure scorned by the team and forced to do menial jobs. The winner is, of course, hailed as a hero.

3. Create match scenarios

A more complex way of putting something on the outcome is to play match scenarios; setting up realistic situations in practice that reflects what happens in a game.

The simplest example of this is during nets when a batsman’s time is almost up. The coach or captain will shout “You need 18 runs from the last 6 balls” (or similar). The batman slogs it while the bowlers complain that it was never a boundary.

That’s OK, it works (especially for the bowlers) to rack up pressure.

But we can do even better than that, and you can see some more examples of middle practice games by reading this article.

4. Learn your ‘pressure response’

So far we have looked at practical ways to add pressure to drills. But just adding pressure isn’t enough; you need to think about how you are dealing with it too.

So when you are drilling to deal with pressure, take time before and/or after each session to talk through how players responded to that pressure.

There are only 2 negative responses:

You think you are going to fail putting doubt in your mind.

You physically respond to the pressure (sweating, heart rate, etc), which puts you off.

There are techniques for dealing with both of these responses in the online coaching course “How to use mental training to boost your game”.

Learning these techniques will allow you to apply them when the pressure is on. Practice is the perfect place to try them out.


Saturday, 5 April 2014

3 Ways to improve without touching a bat or ball

If you want to do well, cricket requires a lot of practice. But not all practice needs a bat and a ball.

Because the biggest challenge of cricket over every other sport is the amount of mental toughness you need to do well.

You could be the world's best batsman, but if your concentration lapses or your confidence goes you won't be able to buy a run.

Lucky for world class players they have learned the best ways to keep mentally tough.

If you had 5 minutes to ask one of those players the 3 easiest ways to improve your mental game, here is what they would say:

1. Use past successes for future gain

Before he opened an innings, Geoff Boycott used to go into a mental cocoon in the dressing room.

He would rehearse his innings, thinking about the bounce of the wicket, the troublesome and easy bowlers and where runs will come seeing his innings unfold in his mind.

It's a common trick used by modern players too. If it worked for Boycs it has to work for you.

2. Save your concentration

Ask any good bowler or batsman and he or she will tell you that they save their concentration for when it matters: the delivery. The rest of the time they are doing anything but concentrating because nobody can stay focused for an entire innings.

Your brain would melt from your ear.

So next time the coach or captain shouts at you to concentrate, try focusing your concentration in short bursts and relaxing the rest of the time.

3. Build confidence with goal setting

Everyone knows how important it is to set goals. If you are regularly achieving your goals, your confidence is sky high.

And we all know how importance confidence is to cricket.

But goal setting is a little trickier than just hoping for 100 wickets this season. Goals can de-motivate as well. So make sure when you set your goals they are something that is in your control and realistic.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

FITNESS : When to introduce strength and endurance training to young cricketers

Some time in a cricketer’s early teens their focus shifts.

No, I’m not talking about the strange attraction to the opposite sex. I mean that the type of fitness training they can bear moves from movement skills to more traditional strength and endurance.

Between the ages of 12-16 (11-15 in girls) a development window opens up that a good cricket coach can exploit to make players fitter and more able to deal with the stresses of playing.

This article will show you how to identify that period and make the most of it without sacrificing cricket skills.

Reaching the peak

Unlike previous ages, coaches have to be flexible when it comes to fitness training because puberty arrives at different times for different players.

Anyone who has coached a teenage team will recognise the sight of two boys in the same under-15 side; one who is nearly 6 feet tall and shaving, the other who looks like he is 10 years old.

The difference is the first player reached his PHV or “peak height velocity” (the rate he is growing) earlier, and as a result is more able to take advantage of strength and endurance training.

And that peak is all-important.

Because, for boys 12-18 months after this growth spurt is the perfect time for pushing hard at improving strength and endurance (for girls this phase is straight after the growth spurt).

Training to train

As soon as a player enters this phase you can change the focus of training from the previous “Learning to Train” stage. In the LTAD terminology it’s called Training to Train.

Of course that means being flexible in how you coach players. Most coaches of this age group will have players at both stages. That means doing the same en-masse will either be too hard for the Learning to Train players or missing an opportunity for the Training to Train players.

However, simply splitting these players up should cover it.

Improving strength, improving performance

Your first role as coach is to encourage players at this phase to get proper strength training.

Safe strength training at this point in a cricketer’s development has been proven to give more resilient bones, tendons, ligaments, and muscles.

In other words; better performance and fewer injuries.

Most cricket coaches are not qualified to do serious strength training and besides there is little time or equipment to do more than the basics you already cover in previous phases.

Training teenagers in strength needs specially qualified experts so seek out someone who knows what they are doing.

A good practitioner in youth fitness training will:

  • Focus on developing safe and effective technique
  •  Look to strength and endurance first but understand the need for mobility and flexibility
  • Understand how to prevent common injuries to shoulders, back and hips
  •  Plan a different off-season and in-season programme
  • Not try and develop hulking bodybuilders

You don’t need to know this stuff so refer your players to this person when the time comes.

Stepping on the gas

One thing you can feel happy doing is getting this stage of players out of breath.

Endurance levels soar during this phase and you can do your bit to push it further by introducing some serious interval training.

You could set aside an extra training session to do this (or refer it out) but most coaches with a very limited time will want bang for the buck and combine it with other drills.

Fielding drills and fitness make a lot of sense. Most out-fielding drills can be adjusted to make the distance covered longer. Keep groups small and waiting times short. Work time (that's when they are doing the drill) should be on a 1:2, 1:1 or 2:1 basis depending on fitness levels. So a 1:1 ratio is 30 seconds work, 30 seconds rest. 1:2 is 30 seconds work with 60 seconds rest.

Running between the wickets can be added to net training ore middle practice easily. You can even have specific sessions that focus on running between the wickets that will do the fitness job too. Again, keep your mind on work to rest periods so players systems are overloaded.

Filling the gaps

Of course, the good work you have been doing previously continues:

  • Mobility drills in the warm up
  • Basic core stabilising exercises
  • Speed and agility drills

While these are not the focus, and can be kept in the warm up, they are vital.

You should also insist on a post-training and match stretch out at this age. It’s not only a good habit it helps with the range of motion at joints which is crucial to the developing body.

This stage continues until about the age of 16, where players move on again. We will cover that in the final part of this series, coming up soon.


Wednesday, 2 April 2014

RESULTS of LEAGUE MATCHES HELD on 29th & 30th March 2014



Ground : Neelambal Subramaniam HSS – Division : I “A”

Tigers “B” 184 allout in 40 Overs (John Alexander 69, S.Sathyamoorthy 40, G.Vinod Kumar 4 for 40)

Lost to

Rangers CC 185 for 7 in 38.2 Overs (S.Sivakumar 57)


Ground : Government Engineering College “A” – Division : II “B”

Parks XI 124 allout in 45 Overs (Murali 3 for 33, Vijaykumar 3 for 23)

Lost to

Dirty Dozen CC 127 for 7 in 20.3 Overs (Vijay Kumar 40, S.Rahman 3 for 15)


Ground : Periyar University “A” – Division : II “A”

Royal Slammers CC 235 for 8 in 45 Overs (M.Kalaiarasan 73, D.Akshavanth 51, A.Saranraj 33, K.Gunasekaran 3 for 35)


S.R.Prabhakar Memorial CC 166 allout in 45 Overs (K.Gunasekaran 49, D.Akshavanth 4 for 18)




Ground : Neelambal Subramaniam HSS – Division : I “B”

The United Gymkhana 139 allout in 30 Overs (M.Thangadurai 32, S.Anand Jagadrinath 3 for 19, G.Sujith 3 for 22)


Gopalan Memorial CC 113 allout in 30 Overs (M.Thangadurai 3 for 18)


Ground : Government Engineering College “A” – Division : I “A”

Ruff Krudoz XI 253 allout in 45 Overs (V.Kumaravel 70, K.Sivashankar 37, M.Arul Kumar 38, K.Sathish 32, R.Periyasamy 5 for 46)


Rothmans CC 238 for 7 in 45 Overs (R.Vasanth Raj 64, G.Selvam 54, M.Ravi 40,K.Sivashankar 3 for 24)


Ground : Periyar University “A” – Division : III

Kannan Memorial CC 106 allout in 45 Overs (G.Vishwanath 3 for 23, P.Senthil Kumar 3 for 23)

Lost to

Universal CC 109 for 2 in 18.1 Overs (S.Kaliappan 51 notout)


Ground : Periyar University “B” – Division : III

Luckystar CC 164 allout in 42 Overs (S.Santhosh Kumar 50)

Lost to

Ravindran Memorial CC 165 for 3 in 22.5 Overs(Subradeepan 58, Jayaseelan 52)

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

BOWLING : How to bowl with a slingy action

Ever since Jeff Thompson showed the power of a ‘slingy’ bowling action, there has been no debate that it is a devastating method for fast bowlers.

Yet coaches worldwide persist with the traditional action. This is because coaches are not taught how to put sling into an action.

Many would argue that it’s too unorthodox or can only be developed naturally. But we disagree, which is why we are going to show you how to coach a slingy action into yourself or others.

What is a slingy action?

Of course, to know how to get one, we need to know what the difference is between ‘slingy’ and ‘orthodox’.

You’ll be surprised to learn there is hardly any difference at all.

To give you a frame of reference, let’s use Mitchell Johnson as an example of a 21st century bowler with a slingy action. Take a look at his delivery stride here.

As you can see from the picture there are more similarities than differences:

  • The front leg is acting as a brace or block
  • The back leg is driving through with the back foot still on the ground
  • The hips and shoulders are pointing down the wicket towards the batsman
  • The chest is well driven forward
  • The non-bowling arm has been driven out and down and is on the way to rotating the shoulders 180 degrees in the follow through.
  • The head is driving towards the target.

All of these points are found in classical and unorthodox bowlers at the highest level.

Going back to the picture, the main two differences are:

  • The bowling arm is much lower, heading towards 10 o’clock of you imagine a high arm position to be 12 o’clock.
  • There is a greater delay in the action before the ball is let go, causing a huge stretch and co-contraction of the muscles. This is what the sling itself looks like.

So now we know that the basics are the same across any fast bowler’s action, it makes it much easier to focus on the differences.

Let’s assume you know how to do the basics well (and if you don’t click here to learn) and focus on the main differences.

Low bowling arm

The low bowling arm is a red herring.

Although Johnson and Malinga both show these traits, it’s not a requirement for a slingy action. Jeff Thomson had his arm at almost 12 o’clock at the point of release.

As Johnson has shown, a low arm increases the chance of inaccuracy. This is because you are no longer getting your shoulders in a straight line down the wicket and so need exceptional timing of the release of the ball to be accurate. A higher arm gives you a greater margin for error.

Of course, international bowlers with a low arm would never be able to change their technique at an advanced level. But a young cricketer still learning the muscle memory can have a slingy action and a high arm.

Delayed bowling arm

This is the real trick to a slingy action.

A slingy arm has a longer delay between the back foot landing and the arm coming over. When the arm does come over it appears to slingshot like an elastic band.

This is because that is exactly what it is doing. You can see how stretched the muscles are at front foot landing in Malinga here

When you stretch that much the elastic nature of the upper body muscles store up the energy and release it as the contract back again and bring the arm over.

Ping. Like an elastic band.

The feeling of the stretch, ping is all important and it can be drilled with a stump and a friend:

In this drill, used by Ian Pont in his online coaching course How to Bowl Faster the bowler is recreating the feel of stretching or pulling the muscles while driving the chest forwards as far as possible.

Move on to bowling at a slow pace without a run up to keep that feeling of being a catapult or a bow, storing up energy ready to fire the arrow at the target. Get the feel then gradually increase the pace.

The older a bowler is, the harder it becomes to learn this stretch reflex, but there is no reason why it can’t be taught even to very young kids. Those aged 9 and above will take to it easily and end up bowling much faster than their peers.