easter camp.jpg

The Preseason Cricket Performance Camp is running during the Easter break, taking full advantage of the indoor training facilities at West of Scotland Cricket Club, Glasgow.

The camp, designed for hard ball cricketers to boost their form before the season begins, runs all week from 9th-13th April. 

Due to space, places are limited.

The camp is suitable for all ages of cricketer from 14 to senior player; anyone who has the aim of improving skills with bat and ball before the season begins.

Sessions are coaching intensive with lots of drills and skill work to take your game to the next level against challenging opposition.

The latest coaching tools are used such as PitchVision video analysis, Sidearm ball throwers, bowling machine and fielding equipment.

The indoor nets at West are the venue, and if weather allows, training will also be outside.

  • Sessions run daily 10am-12pm and 1pm-3pm.
  • The cost is £20 per session or £75 for a block of five sessions (lunch not included).

Places are limited so book early to avoid disappointment. To book or if you have further queries, contact me here

AuthorDavid Hinchliffe


Planning is about realism, but also needs a pinch of idealism.

This is the conclusion I have come to during my recent planning of summer training for West of Scotland Cricket Club. The recent snow and cancelled sessions have got me in planning mode, as I have done for the last three summers at West.

I used to plan based on the ideal: It won’t rain much, most people will attend most sessions, match availability will be abundant, everyone will want to do exactly what I plan when I plan it. Players are happy to try new ways of training. There will be as much energy at the end of the summer as there is in April. This wasn’t realistic.

Now I plan based on these key variables: 

  • Give as many players as possible as many chances as possible to play under match conditions. However, availability for training and matches will be wildly varied.
  • Players prefer to play games than come to training, and most will choose matches over training. 
  • Training is well attended for the first few weeks, tails away as midweek matches start (West are in five midweek competitions and a Sunday cup), has a short recovery in July before tailing away to virtually nothing by the end of August.
  • Home midweek games and rain need different sessions to “normal” sessions.
  • Every playing member will get the chance to train, but those more open to being pushed at training will get more attention. Coachable players get coached!
  • Many players love the default (nets and fixed fielding drills with high volume) and rarely engage with anything else. This is especially true when deciding what to do as a group.

With these constraints, I have build a plan that is flexible. It looks complicated because it has so many options, but in reality, I will just pick the most suitable one and run with it. It’s realistic and idealistic.

Realism isn’t an excuse for pessimism though. In the past I have let the failures of sessions get to me and we end up in “default net” mode because players were not engaged with the session. Perhaps that was my fault, perhaps the players were not coachable enough that day. Whatever the reason, these things happen. My goal for the year is to work as hard as possible to inspire people to be better than the default. With that in mind, my big focus for changes to training is,

  • Building team spirit and improvement mindset into sessions as well as games.
  • Bringing training closer to matches.
  • Offering constraints-led drills and skill work, especially in the field.

Of course, these are ideals and not every box will be ticked at every session. That said, the more I can convince players do these things, the better it will be for the club. For example, I know a lot of players tend to dislike middle practice. However, also know well-run centre wicket work is one of the best ways to develop form and decision making skills.

That means I’ll try to do it as much as possible but need to understand the conditions need to be right. We need a practice wicket and the right number of players at the right standard. We need buy in from those participating, and an understanding it will be a lower volume session (which is OK). We need good weather and no home game that night. If these elements align, the session may still fail (unforeseen lack of attendance, snap shower, players not fully bought in). Or it may work like a charm and we all get something from it.

The point is, it’s my job to try, review and try again.

As a result, my plan is flexible but looking to stretch those who want to be stretched. It fights against the default “just hitting balls” mindset, but is also aware sometimes that’s the best you can do. My ideal is West are better than the default, my realism means I’m ready for when we are not. I’ll always strive to push West onward though, and this plan is the foundation of that realistic ideal. 

If you want more details about the planning process for club cricket, drop me a line for a chat. 



AuthorDavid Hinchliffe


Pace coach Steffan Jones recently said net bowling “is of no benefit to the pace bowler”.

While I broadly agree, I also think it’s a problem that is not easy to solve. Mainly because bowlers want to bowl in nets. Most bowlers love to bowl. They have relatively few chances, so when they get a session they tend to bowl as long as possible.

As a coach you can monitor this, but only in your sessions. What if the bowler you coach works with others? What if they go to nets with their mates and just bowl for hours because they are having fun? This happens all the time.

It’s the slightly older version of running a session with six year olds with clever designed warm up, session goals and cool down only to see them run back onto the outfield for two more hours after you finish.

Steff’s solution is great: heavy and light bowling days, combined with properly organised nets where bowlers bowl in spells that reflect game time. I encourage all coaches to build sessions like this. I’d love to see it. I also know that it is never going to happen outside my sessions. Certainly not at club or school level.

I think the best we can do as coaches is to build environments where players can work with these solutions, try them out and see how they work. We can structure sessions effectively to show players a useful path.

I think we can build a culture in the teams we coach of care for the fast bowler. We can help the team understand their own bowlers needs, and work to make sure they are met as well as possible.

But we must also remember that bowlers gonna bowl when the coaching shackles are off: Especially if they are kids, or adults with no intention of playing professionally. Bowling is fun, a way of letting off steam and a way to challenge themselves. They ask themselves, why would they bowl less or in such a restrictive way?

I’m not knocking Steff, he’s doing great work in a specific environment where he has more control and can do more like this. But I do wonder even in the most controlled situations, do all players stick totally to the plan?

Players certainly don’t stick to any plan I try for long. My conclusion after years of trying is to unclench. By all means, try it, but don’t panic if it turns out to be rejected by the players. It may work brilliantly, it may not. Only the players can decide what works for them because they are the only consistent presence in their game development.

I know some coaches will argue we know best so players should listen. I used to argue that too. Personally, I can’t hold that worldview any longer. Not with any integrity. For me it came for a place of ego and a need to control things I can’t control. For me it came from an impossible idea; that one coach can have total influence over a group of players. For me, I have realised that is impossible. For me it also came from a deep fear: If the coach can’t instruct any more, what is the job of the coach at all? Are we all just snake-oil salesmen?

Of course not.

Knowledge is still power, but I think it’s less useful for coaches than it was before because knowledge is so easy to obtain these days.

Real coaching helps players get the best from themselves not through pouring knowledge into cricket player jugs. It comes from building great relationships, mindsets, cultures and environments where players feel comfortable to build, fail and build again. That’s way more complex and difficult to grab than telling players what to do based on the latest research.

But from my viewpoint, it’s the only thing that gives you a chance to be a great coach.

And this was supposed to be an article about session design for bowlers. Sometimes you need to look deeper.

AuthorDavid Hinchliffe



One thing I have railed against for years is the idea of “standard nets”: The unthinking practice where you have a few bowlers, one batter and 10 minutes each.


In more recent times, I have started to realise the inevitable nature of this kind of net session, especially with teenage and adult players. While I have plenty of alternative strategies, I also think it’s not as unhelpful as I have suggested in the past. Plus, I’ve come to accept there’s not much I can do about it.

 Cricket net mentality

When I’m working with engaged, self-sufficient and coachable players in a group net, I notice a certain mentality. Players with this mindset do not need a coach nudge. They go in to bat with a specific aim in mind. They don’t need the bowlers to do anything, they work with what they have.

For example, last year the pro at West would net for 10 minutes against whoever was bowling (sometimes pretty average players). He would work on his footwork to spinners and how big a stride he was taking to seamers. He never got fed up and hit out. He played with patience and focus. He walked out thanking every bowler for their efforts. He made the most of the situation.

Compare that to the average group of club players.

When left to net, they bowl until it’s their turn to bat. They bat for a bit with no real goal then have a swing at the end. They walk out with a general feeling of it going well or badly. This latter group is in the vast majority, even with experienced, talented and skilful players.

In the worst cases, when the situation is challenging - like a tired net wicket that is hard to bat on - some players give up altogether and either swing until time is up or come out early.

Coach intervention

When I first started coaching full time in nets I tried very hard to come up with ways to prevent this unfocused thinking: Games, drills, removing nets, putting up incentives, whiteboard themes, one to one conversations and more. Every intervention was met with some success but always the same end result eventually: A return to standard nets.

I felt a lot of frustration about this, and tried even harder to help players find a focus. Some of these methods worked well but there was no universal solution. And I think over 10 years of trying with different teams has proven how hard default nets stick.

Really it was my ego getting bruised when I saw “failure”.

In fact, the default net stays default partly because it is a useful tool. When done right it works to,

  • Allow players to focus on action-perception training with bat and ball (e.g. picking line and length).
  • Develop mindset and mental skills around batting and bowling.
  • Socialise and have fun with teammates (crucial in club cricket, not a thing to be avoided).
  • Get a lot of players with efficient time on task.

It’s easy, comfortable, it broadly works. For these reason the shadow of the default net looms large.

The realisation

Recently I realised I had not been thinking about nets in the right way.


I can never make default nets vanish and replace them with something else because it’s too easy, too ingrained, too trusted by players who have had a lot of success in cricket. I saw it from their viewpoint; fixing something that is not broken. Perhaps even risking their form for some foolish new fangled way to train.

No wonder they don’t want to change.

No wonder I see net games break down the moment I stop scoring the game. No wonder most players can’t even focus enough to even tell me what they are working on when I ask. No wonder people have literally walked out of my middle practice sessions because they don’t get the safe feeling net.

In their mind, especially a group mind, nets feel good and work fine.

With this thought, I realised it’s not personal. It’s not about my coaching skills. It’s not my job to get frustrated when players don’t fit my methods and principles. That’s my ego talking. My job is to find ways that work for the players, even when that’s not always what I want to coach.

Of course, there are also many ways nets can be unhelpful to development.  It’s too easy to switch off. It’s not as realistic as middle practice or as focused as game based drills. You can’t work on technique.

However, they can be useful. More importantly, most players think they are useful in that group setting. And what’s the saying about bringing a horse to water?

Cricket net coaching 3.0

Where does this reality leave the coach’s role at group nets?

First and foremost, I think we have to develop a real understanding of the players we coach. What motivates them? What inspires them? How do they think? How do they act in a group and as a group? What do they think works to develop their game (if they even have enough desire to do so)? What do they need to do to improve?

The more we know, the more we can match net sessions to the players.

Sometimes those sessions will look a lot like traditional netting. Even when we know in our heart of hearts there are more useful and developmental ways of training. If we know a group are the type to resist, its time to rethink the plan. If we think we can push harder and get a response, then try.

I like to think one day I will coach a group who feel the same as me about default netting. But I can’t control that because it’s always the player’s choice to make as an individual and as a group. Conscious or unconscious, social loafing or individual motivation. Respect for the coach or not.

As coaches, we can inspire, set up options, motivate, grow culture, encourage mindful action, explain why thing work, understand character and build environments. But we can never make that final choice to engage. To be coachable.

So we need to accept nets will eventually default to the simplest option. Take the chance when it comes to offer more helpful things but remember it’s the player’s choice, not ours. That helps us accept when our methods are rejected. That helps us realise there is only so much we can do.

Sometimes a traditional net is helpful because everyone is engaged and motivated towards a target. Sometimes it’s unhelpful for development but helpful for having a laugh with mates. Sometimes it’s unhelpful busywork. That’s really up to the players, not us. Not matter how hard we try and take the lead.

In my mind now I have relaxed my sense of wanting to be in control. Of course there are things we can and should do: Understand the players, make an offer. View the outcomes and adjust. See where the players take us when we try.

We might not end up where we wanted, but we will have fun seeing how far we can go with people who trust us because they know how much we care.

In the end, cricket coaching is far more about helping and guiding people than getting nets right.

Isn’t it?

AuthorDavid Hinchliffe

Here's a net game that ramps up the tactical, decision making and feeling of playing cricket. Also, it's named after a 90s computer game. Win-win!

The game requires a little bit of planning, but can work with four-six players in each net lane.

First, pick teams. You don't need even numbers (and people can even arrive late and still join in). Then decide on the duration of each innings and who is batting first.

Devise a scoring system. We used a variation on PGS zones with these points:

  • 1pt - Hit bowler defined zone with attacking shot (attempt rewarded more than outcome).
  • 4pt - Hit  different bowler defined zone with attacking shot (attempt rewarded more than outcome).
  • -1pt - Play and miss on off side.
  • -5pt - Out bowled, stumped, caught behind, skyed or caught and bowled.

Then play out the match!


As you can see, we kept score on the whiteboard.

The response was brilliant. Everyone was highly engaged with the session. The bowlers and batsmen were arguing over the finer points of the rules, the result really mattered! It also got players to think tactically with their batting and bowling, and forced batsmen to play shots they didn't think they could play in order to try and win.

It was creative, messy, fun and developmental. I was delighted!

Give it a go and see how the players you coach get on with it. Be prepared for some great challenging discussions to be had.

AuthorDavid Hinchliffe

Why don’t we see more coaches in business?

A coach in sport helps players find ways to improve. In cricket that leads to runs and wickets. 

In business, that leads to profit.

Although the goal is different, the methods are the same. Coaches are in the people business. We are effective when we understand how people and teams tick, what motivates them and how to draw out the best in them. 

Coaching develops people

Managers in business, like captains in sport, are so constrained by the pressures of time they don’t get the chance to coach. Even though everyone from the MD to the team leader is effective and efficient with well drilled processes and policies, they know how much greater a well-coached team can be.

Like good cricket teams, coached and coachable businesses are not just skilled and efficient. 

They know attitude and mindset, although invisible, are crucial elements in success. They focus on personal growth, pride in a job well done, and constant effort even under heavy workloads.

They are aware of their thoughts and behaviours and work towards helpful actions. They understand when they are having unhelpful thoughts and quickly act to stop them from becoming unhelpful actions and behaviours.

They have a powerful team culture built on a spirit of togetherness that extends far beyond shared goals. It helps them feel part of something important and motivates on a deep level.

A coached and coachable business roots out mistrust and toxic behaviour itself - even if it is within the “rules” - because this team has their way of working: A culture that is clear and honest.

So why don’t we see more coaches?

Coaching isn't instructing

I think it’s an image problem.

Most people in business see a sports coach as a PE teacher from the 70s. The coach blows a whistle, makes people do laps and punishment and forces endless, repetitive drills on the cold winter pitch or sports hall.

I have coached for over 20 years. I don’t own a whistle. The only time the players I coach do laps is if they choose to do them to get fit. I don’t even really like drills as a way of coaching. At least, not the brainless repetition of most of them.

Coaches are not instructors any more.

The old-school coach image is wrong.

When you get coaching these days, it’s all about coaching. Coaching by centring on the coachee. Understanding and empathising with the goal of development:

  • How you think.
  • What you believe.
  • What you feel.
  • How you act.
  • What you think, feel and do when you are at your best.
  • What you want to change.
  • How you are going to change.

Real-life coaching

Let me give you a couple of practical examples.

First, George. George is new to a business but has been around long enough to understand the company policies. He works hard and tows the line. He is not a star performer but he never does anything wrong. He wants to learn some new skills but is having trouble finding the time because real work and business pressures come first.

George gets the chance to work with the company coach once a week for half an hour. In that time the coach and George chat about his aims and goals. He clarifies his ambitions and plans how he might get there.

To his surprise, the coach also shadows George at work for a few days too. 

In the next meeting, the coach starts asking George about why he did things at certain times. George feels his brain hurting a little as he digs deeper into how he feels, what his underlying assumptions are about things, and where points of frustration creep in.

He kept an open mind. He wanted to improve.

Over a few sessions and a few shadow days, George starts to get a clearer picture of how he works and why he works that way. He is able to organise his time better as a result and finds time to upskill without significant impact on the business. His new found skills pay off with better, more consistent performance.

George’s example shows, with an open mind, coaching helps you give yourself the chance to be the best you can be, whatever your job.

The second example is Sara. Sara also works hard and toes the line. She has been around a bit longer than George and understands the company a little better. 

She is also seen a problem by her manager. She never “breaks the rules” but she often bends them as far as possible. She doesn’t fit the culture of the company. She arrives just before start time and leaves exactly on time every day. She takes every excuse to get away from work for a moment. She sometimes lets a good chat get in the way of real work. 

Because Sara never breaks any rules, she sees nothing wrong with what she is doing. She doesn’t agree with her manager and doesn’t want to change anything.

Sara notices when the coach is around but, at first, does not see any one to one time. The coach is often around the team; chatting, joining in team meetings, taking notes and having sessions with others on the team.

Eventually the coach gets to Sara for a meeting. There are a lot of questions about how and why Sara does things. She can’t always answer them. She feels defensive. Yet, over time, the coach helps her recognise her feelings and match them to what she wants. Together they find areas they can work on, points of conflict with the manager and rest of the team, and a deeper understanding of how to make positive changes without comprising the core of who Sara feels she is.

Sometimes the meetings are one to one, sometimes they have a team mate or two. Occasionally the manager joins in. The discussion and action plan is always guided by the coach. Even when feelings run high.

Sara starts to understand her role in the team, the culture of the company and her influence on others through her actions. She finds ways to fit in and become valuable while meeting her own needs.

These are the types of issues sports coaches deal with every day.

George and Sara are made up names, but their stories are the stories of players I have coached in a sporting context. I wasn’t in a suit in a company, I was in a tracksuit in a cricket net. 

Yet, people are still people whatever the context.

Beyond practical, into inspired

We tend to get drawn into the practical and immediate in both sport and business. The next sale, the next match.

Sometimes you need someone to get deeper, delve into the invisible soft side and help inspire people the be the best they can be. It leads to a better bottom line, just like it leads to more wins on the field.

Good coaching taps into this on a team and individual level.

To try coaching in your business, set up a meeting with me to find out how I can help.

AuthorDavid Hinchliffe

Players in Glasgow who are U12 and U14 age group have a chance to get some extra coaching.

The West Regional Development Centre is hosting two, open to all, hardball cricket skill development sessions during the 2018 February school holidays. I will be coaching at the sessions.

  • U12s (2018 cricket age) – Monday 12th February, 1pm – 4pm
  • U14s (2018 cricket age) – Tuesday 13th February, 10am – 1pm
  • Where? Hutchesons’ Grammar School Sports Hall, G41 4NW
  • For Whom? Sessions are open to all players from the West Region – players do not need to have any current (or prior) involvement in ‘Area Group’ / ‘Regional’ programmes
  • Coached By? The current Western Warriors U14 & U16 Lead Coaches: Tim Hart & David Hinchliffe
  • Cost £25
  • To Book Contact Tim Hart (timhart@cricketscotland.com) for more information

Places at both sessions are limited, so please get in contact early to avoid disappointment.

AuthorDavid Hinchliffe


I’m always searching for ways to improve club cricket net practice. The challenge is engaging players at the right level. This game is one I came up with after realising an area we rarely practice.

The net game was simple: Score as may “fives” as possible.

Of course, it’s impossible to do this perfectly, but we made some simple rules to encourage the batsman to rotate the strike after hitting a boundary: My most adored five.

In the net, batsmen bat in pairs, bowlers bowl in turn. Cones are set out to mark gaps in the field and batsmen rotate when they hit the gap. Pretty normal so far.

Here’s the variation:

  • If the batsman hits a four (by their own judgement), the same bowler must bowl another ball.
  • If the batsman rotates - as above - they get to record a successful five.
  • The pair with most fives at the end wins.

Simple, but effective at working on a specific goal without taking players too far out of their expectations of a net. This was good for the University guys I coach because they are not super focused on performance, but still care enough to want to come to nets. This drill finds a nice balance between focus and “having a go”.

Try it, adapt it. Let me know what you think!

AuthorDavid Hinchliffe

Here's a drill I came up with on the fly. Originally I came across this idea for helping bowlers who bowl off the wrong foot to get a feel for timing their landing.

One day, a spinner asked me if I had an ideas for helping him brace and pull better against the front side of the body. It was a timing issue the same as bowling off the wrong foot. We tried this drill and it instantly got more spin and a feeling of power through the action. Great teamwork!

I share it for others to try.

AuthorDavid Hinchliffe

All coaches have limited time with people. Naturally we want the best ways to help them improve. The instinct is to start telling players what to do. So, every new coach is taught not to bombard players with information. Even the most coachable take in one or two points at most. 

I think in reality that is a hopelessly optimistic view. 

My guess is that it is more like one point in a hundred that gets through.

I think a two-way method is a lot more effective. There is less telling and more trying. This makes coaching a process of self-discovery by the cricketer, guided by the coach during a session.  When the player is building their own solutions they are more likely to be able to access them in the heat of a cricket match.

Of course, all this requires a certain frame of mind from the players and coach.

Coachable cricketers

"Coachable" does not mean listening to your every instruction. It means they are aware of your knowledge, open to discussion, ready to try some things out and are mindful of the results. Every coach wants a player like this to coach.

Recently, another coach I trust mentioned coachability varies; both between and within players. You always get the stubborn players who have their way. You also get the players who just want to be told what to do. My favourite variation of this type is the person who want to be told, doesn’t listen to the answer they asked for and blames the coach for not helping (yes, this has happened to me).

None of these responses are coachable.

You also get players who get the idea quickly, buy into the method and put the work in with focus and mindfulness. These are the golden coachable players.

However, people are fickle. Depending on things like mood and time we can be more or less coachable. It can even be as simple as being a morning person or an evening person. Your brain is ready when it’s ready.

This has been a revelation to my coaching.

When I struggled to help more difficult types, I switched my thinking from “this player can’t be coached” to “this player is not coachable right now”. Instead of giving up, I spend time trying to work out what will help get people into that coachable mindset.

I have spent almost entire one-to-one hours talking to some players who prefer to do their thinking through chat. I’ve also done nothing with players other than throw a lot of Sidearm at them while they work things out by doing. Mostly it's trying to find a balance.

I’ve made the most of times when people are “on” and I’ve even abandoned the odd session when individuals are “off”. Of course in a group setting you have to get through it, but I often find myself dropping back to something that’s silly and fun instead of worrying too much about coaching people in an disengaged frame of mind.

Find that place where people are most coachable.

Lights on coaching

Occasionally, you’ll click into sync with a player or a group. The lights go on. The session flows seamlessly with fun, engagement and learning at full blast. 

They happen rarely because everyone needs to be in the right frame of mind. That said, I’m convinced you can have an influence as a coach with your language and behaviour.

I go in with energy, enthusiasm and determination. I get the feel for the room and adapt my language and behaviour to try and guide everyone to the light switch. I hope my chimp brain doesn’t sabotage me too much by putting me in a bad mood. We have all been there.

Sometimes everyone comes with you. The curtain goes up and the lights come on.

Mostly it’s fine without being great.

You just have to get through those days. You can't win every session. Sometimes, despite your valiant efforts nobody learns anything. Don't beat yourself up. People are amazing, frustrating, wonderful and different to you.

Keep searching to get everyone in the coachable mindset. Keep working to keep yourself in that adaptable frame of mind so anyone who is coachable can get coaching.

It’s really the only option.

For me, I coach better when I let my ego fall away and focus on doing my best every time despite what I get back. I know sometimes I will fail. I’m a human. I know sometimes those I coach won't pick up what I put down. They are human. But when my lights are on, and everyone I’m coaching is the same, we make some magic cricket.

What’s your perspective?

AuthorDavid Hinchliffe

With the season looming, time is running out to build up your form. Take advantage of half-term with a three day preseason camp that's guaranteed to boost your skills.

The camp is designed for two groups:

  • 12-16 year old cricketers, ambitious to play well for Western Warriors or other rep sides.
  • 17 and older senior players with a focus on improved cricket performance in the 2018 season.

The sessions, lasting all day (10am-4pm), are designed to give you an intense focus on cricket at the Indoor Cricket School at West of Scotland. I'll be leading the sessions with a special focus on developing exciting "streetwise" cricket skills in a number of areas including:

  • Improving bowling pace or turn.
  • Power hitting.
  • Tactical awareness and resilience under critical moments
  • Building long innings and bowling well for a full season.
  • Twenty20 skills
  • Mental toughness
  • Performance lifestyle
  • Technical competence in batting and bowling

The sessions are personalised, so will have four cricketers per day for the three days (to allow maximum practice time and the fastest improvements).

PitchVision technology will be used to track both technical and performance outcomes and deliver a report at the end of the camp that players can take into their club and rep sessions. The two lane school also has a bowling machine and access to a space for outdoor practice.

The camp is £40 per day, or £100 for three days. PitchVision videos and data are all included.

Places are booked on first-come-first-serve basis.

Contact me for details on 07736320337 or click the link below:

AuthorDavid Hinchliffe

We live in an Information Age. Data can be gathered on iPads. Everyone has an HD video camera in their pocket. You can spend a lot of money on gadgets that claim to use data to give you the edge. 

None of it is cricket coaching. 

However, it does have the power to inform the coach, who can deliver better coaching as a result. Computers are amazing at gathering huge amounts of information and sorting it into piles and patterns. Human beings are amazing at interpreting and translating this huge mass of ones and zeros into something tangible. Why would we not do it

Analysing data certainly informs coaching.

I have been using data with the teams I coach for years in some way or another. Here’s some of the things I found that have informed how I coach players: 

Like coaching, there is an art as well as a science to analysing data, but if you can find useful data you can use coaching to find an edge. That's a really powerful tool available to a coach.

Perhaps even more powerful than basic advice that any player can find on YouTube these days?

AuthorDavid Hinchliffe

I'd like to turn your attention to a new podcast series I have produced with some of my cricket coaching friends:

You Are Not Alone Coach!

I have published four 16 minute shows, each on a different cricket coaching topic. Each one gives some practical advice on the subject of the show. It's designed to be quick while also giving some practical advice you can take to your next coaching session.

If you like it, let me know I can make more. There's plenty of topics and lots of my pals wanting a run at doing the show. Get the show here:

You Are Not Alone Coach!


(Or search for it in your podcast app of choice)

AuthorDavid Hinchliffe
I shall be striving to create an environment in which they can find out what they are good at, hopefully discover their own solutions to the cricketing puzzles they will be presented with, where they can find themselves part of an emerging (social) community, and, most importantly, play the game.

And I shall certainly be striving them to find out what they are good at and helping them to get better at it.
— The Teesra

To me, these thoughts of Andrew Beaven made me think about the way kids learned to play cricket back in the old days: Free play in the park, street or playground.

Jumpers for goalposts, as the saying goes.

The world has changed a great deal since those days. We can no longer rely on players who arrive at sessions with a cricket instinct, passion and purpose honed from watching and playing the game informally with their mates.

We need to coach it.

It sounds counter-intuitive to those of us who grew up this way, but now it’s the job of the coach to build this lifelong passion and excitement. That means less formal stiffness and doing things “properly” and more informal, chaotic, laugh-out-loud fun.

When at the top of their game, a coach empowers people to do their own learning. And the only way - in my mind - to do that is to let go of structure and play the game as the raw problem-solving fun mess it was when we did it in the back yard with a tennis ball, a dustbin for stumps and special rules for when you hit the ball into the old ladies’ garden.

We can’t get back to those times, but we can tap into the core of what made them so great.

It’s my purpose to guide players towards their purpose at every session, whatever level of player I coach. While I can never be sure it will accelerate performance compared to other techniques, I can be sure it keeps them coming back for more.

AuthorDavid Hinchliffe

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AuthorDavid Hinchliffe

I love a coaching tool and use many day to day. Yet the best one remains the Sidearm because it has allowed me to transform how I coach.

This isn’t a sponsored post. Although perhaps it should be. It’s more my personal story of the Sidearm and how it became an essential cricket coaching tool for me.

I first was given Sidearm by it’s inventor years ago before it was ubiquitous in county and international cricket. I thought it had potential and tried it out to the usual problem of being hopelessly inaccurate with it. I also was a big fan of the bowling machine at the time. It could feed accurately at a pace that challenged players so there was no huge incentive to learn a new skill. I kept it around without using it much.

In April 2015 I got the Head Coach job at West of Scotland. I decided it would be more useful in coaching sessions because it’s more flexible and quicker to set up than the bowling machine. I still wasn’t very good with it, so used it sparingly. I bowled a lot of short balls!

Come winter, I decided I preferred the Sidearm, in principle, to a bowling machine. It’s much closer to actual bowling; the batsman can see the release and action. I could send it down at a good lick (certainly faster than my average meds). The barrier of the machine was gone so I could coach more quickly with shouting over the top of the whirring.

The problem was, I was still terrible.

Fortunately, I had PitchVision, indoor nets and a willing player to bowl at through the winter. I bowled in excess of 60 overs between September and January, doubling my accuracy while increasing speed. It took the first few hundred to click, but the improvements were dramatic towards the end of this period. I was confident I could get the ball down the other end reasonably well.

Now I had a tool I could use. And a world opened up.

One to one coaching sessions changed from machine and throw down drills to open net style sessions based far more on a holistic approach to batting where we would work on building game sense and technical effectiveness over perfection. My style was leaning this way already, the Sidearm both made it possible to achieve and sped this process up.

I couldn’t have done it without the Sidearm.

Fast forward to this winter. I’ve bowled thousands of balls with a Sidearm and got much better again. I have also embraced a number of modern coaching touchstones; growth mindset, CLA and TGfU, athlete-centred and NLP. While I could focus on these things without the Sidearm, it would make life a lot harder. I’ve got good enough with it to recreate most types of ball a bowling machine can deliver, up to about 80mph on a good day (about 65 on average).

Here’s the benefits as I see them,

  • Built to match my style of working with a player unobstructed in an open net environment. (No fixed unopposed drills)
  • A more realistic, lower cost, more portable bowling machine (when you get good enough).
  • Allows bowlers a rest in team nets or middle practice as the coach or batsmen can bowl (even in pads).

In short, I strongly advise it’s worth putting in the effort to learn to throw. The biggest hurdle for most is the shame of bowling terribly with it while you learn. I get that, but power through by chucking some into an empty net when you get the chance. It took me about 450 balls (five hours or so) to feel OK about it. I suspect most people will need less time.

My coaching life would be significantly harder and I would be much less effective without the Sidearm. We have five at West and I encourage everyone to practice it, especially the non-bowlers. There are several Western Warriors who are working on it too. I am getting a few disciples.

I cannot recommend the tool enough. It’s invaluable.

Get one.

AuthorDavid Hinchliffe

There’s no easy answer for the coach who wants to know how to handle fast bowler workloads. Some say we should return to the days of bowling all the time. The ECB, meanwhile, sets tight directives on overs bowled.

Back in the day, fast bowlers bowled all day and didn’t do any specialist fitness work. These days we encourage bowlers into the gym.

Was this change right?

Or should we go back to the golden age of pace?

It’s unclear if bowlers were really fitter and faster in the old days, but let’s assume there were more pacemen with fewer injuries. Can we go back to those days?

I’m not sure we can, not without society changing.

Think back to when the West Indies dominated speed in the 80s. The conveyor belt of quick bowlers came about for various social-economic reasons: No computers or consoles. Getting about by running and walking rather than being driven. No formal coaching. Not much other sport to choose to play professionally, and a powerful internal cultural drive to prove to the world West Indian cricketers were the best. Playing on beaches with tennis balls. An approach to injury-prevention of saying “just walk it off”.

It was an environment build to create strong fast bowlers. One that is insanely hard to recreate in, say, modern Glasgow (where I coach). Cricket is one choice of sport in a world where playing sport often comes way down the list after playing Nintendo and watching Celtic or Rangers on the TV. Kids are provably weaker than local kids from 30 years ago and provably less likely to even try cricket, let alone want to bowl fast.

Even the ones who do play are on the field less thanks to weather and other things to do. When they do practice, they practice on hard indoor surfaces a lot, even in summer. A big chunk play no other sport.

If I was to apply the “just bowl more” principle to some of the 11-16 year old talented bowlers I coach in the Western Warriors I don’t know what would happen. I worry they would break down more, be more likely to quit the game and try to slow down to conserve energy. These guys are not Malcolm Marshall. Even they were lucky enough to have his talent, they don’t have his upbringing.

Of course, in spite of all this, I could tell them to bowl more and they might become stronger, faster and better.

The point is, I just don’t know. Neither does anyone else for sure. It’s all opinion.

And with a modern culture that rightly expects us to protect each other from needless injury, it’s difficult to take the risk.

Coaching fast bowlers

Where does this leave the coach?

Here’s my three broad ideas.

First understand the context of the fast bowlers you coach. What is their upbringing, what are their motivations, what other things are they into, how much of their bowling load can you control?

As we have learned, everything in a player’s life contributes to how much they can bowl.

Second, look at the individual needs of the player. Some will be more robust: They play multiple sports for example. These are the guys that can bowl more before they break down. Others will need to get stronger. That might mean greater amounts of gym work, OU weighted ball bowling and medicine ball chucking. It might also mean bowling less.

The ECB tried to make it clear by saying how much a player can bowl before their chance of injury goes too high. But this is always an average not a rule. Some will be stronger, some will not be as strong. We can test a million times and not have the ultimate answer that applies to everyone.

That means it’s more art than science. Play as safe as you can. Err on the side of bowler safety when someone is in your charge, but get a sense for how far you can push it too. You can push stronger bowlers harder. You can push bowlers with safer techniques harder too.

And that’s the third piece of this puzzle: Technique.

Many would argue it’s also the most important part. It’s certainly the part us humble coaches have most influence over. Helping a player build a sound technique on a strong, stable and mobile frame is one of the best ways to keep them bowling and therefore improving.

So, get super-good at knowing what a strong technique looks like and how to guide players towards it. If you know how to drill out lateral flexion and a mixed action, you are well on the road. If you know how to build Ian Pont’s four tent pegs, you are golden. Technically speaking.

This stuff is tough

Going back to the original question of “should bowlers bowl more and gym less?” I will opine that it depends.

It’s not as easy as saying bowlers should bowl more these days. Neither is it as certain to say talented pacemen should bowl less and spend more time lifting weights. It depends.

This stuff is hard. It requires skilful, experienced coaching, self-aware bowlers, and strong leadership and education from the ECB. Even then it would take a lot of luck to get the balance right every time.

Be confident when you coach fast bowlers because fortune favours the brave. But don’t expect to find a simple answer that works for everyone.

That’s why coaching is an art.

AuthorDavid Hinchliffe
Personal Cricket Trainer Glasgow.png

Everyone knows about personal trainers for fitness: Now you can have your own personal cricket coach at an amazingly great value rate.

Personal cricket coaching is for those who want more runs, wickets and a bigger impact on games.

Yet, for most, extra coaching is not a realistic option. You can get nets at your club through your fees. If you are good, you get squad work for Western Warriors, Cally Highlanders, Eastern Knights or even Cricket Scotland.

This may be enough.

So why are you still frustrated?

Do you have specific issues and an unquenchable hunger for runs and wickets that all this coaching is not filling? Are you in a rut and you feel the right mentoring can push you up a level? Do you need more personal coaching?

One to one stuff is costly. I get that. You know it's worth it because you know the impact a great coach can have. It's frustratingly out of reach when you look at the hourly rates. Your goal may be to make it as a pro or just to do better on Saturday afternoon but whatever it is you can't justify spending out. Not when that new bat is on sale!

As a coach with over 20 years experience, I recognise this frustration in players like you. In all honesty, I felt it myself as a player. I knew I could have done much better with good coaching. Even now, when I coach some players for short periods I can see they want more but can't make the sums add up. It makes me angry when I see talent unfilled because of reasons unrelated to cricket. I know it does for you too.

Don't give up.

There's another way.

Cricket coaching anytime

I wanted to make things different.

I wanted to coach in a world where I am available to you as a personal coach, trainer and mentor without barrier. This is a world where your improvements are fast, measurable and long-lasting. It's a world where you are giving yourself the best chance of reaching your dreams, playing with control and confidence, and getting slapped on the back for playing well.

Maybe, whisper it, just maybe, reaching your potential and going all the way to the top.

That's why the Coaching Retainer exists.

For a much smaller cost - about the same as a gym membership - you get full access to a professional cricket coach and mentor. You get runs. You get wickets. You get to feel great.

When you get the Coaching Retaineryou have monthly access to your own personal cricket coach in Glasgow. This includes:

  • Four one-to-one cricket coaching sessions at the Indoor School in Glasgow.
  • Access to an exclusive group of players and coaches providing discussion and advice on the latest ways to play better cricket.
  • Online (or face to face) mental game mentoring to develop your toughness on the pitch.
  • Some of the best - and by best I mean worst - banter in Scottish cricket!

Not bad for £40.

That's £8.89 a week. £1.27 a day. Less than a cup of coffee from Greggs.

And I am much, much nicer than a coffee from Greggs, I can tell you from experience.

Isn't a better average, more success on the field and a chance to move up the ladder worth that?

Even better, you don't have to commit to more than a month. This is about helping you improve at the most realistic rate possible so I want you to feel great about it. Take a month to see how you like things.

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The "office": indoor cricket nets in Glasgow.

The "office": indoor cricket nets in Glasgow.

More coaching, better value, proven results

If you don't know me, you might question how I can help. You know coaching is good for your game, but you don't know if my coaching is right for you.

All I can tell you is my record. I have coached for over 20 years at club and rep level. I have been around the world thanks to my coaching, including Australia, India and South Africa. Players of all ages, men and women, beginners to current Internationals have worked with me. In my current role as Head Coach of West of Scotland, we won promotion to the WDCU Premier League. I am coaching Western Warriors U14-U16s this season too. Here's one testimonial from my Facebook page:

World class coaching. Great analysis, and also a top bloke!

I also tell really, really bad jokes and spend too much time finding cricket drills on YouTube. If this sounds like the kind of bloke you can work with, book a trial month now.

Cricket is a tough game, especially in Scotland. Together we can make it a little easier, a lot more fun and develop a huge chance for success on the field.

Book now, click below.

AuthorDavid Hinchliffe