To coincide with the Launch of my new book titled ‘Psychology of cricket’ that I have co-authored with Dr Jamie Barker I thought I would share a few thoughts on the psychology of the game in my blog post this week.
Cricket is an interesting game, with many facets, but I think a significant aspect of cricket – like many sports is confidence.
Form is everything in cricket. Players often talk about either being ‘in form’ or ‘out of touch’. But what does this term ‘form’ actually mean? For many cricketers they play best when they are in-form. But the question remains, what do you do when form deserts you? Most players get their confidence from how they are playing. It stands to reason really. If you are scoring runs and taking wickets you feel far more positive about your game.
Also, crucially, you believe that you will continue to score runs and take wickets. As a result you are seen to be confident. That is that you have a belief that you will be successful the next time you play, which in return increases the chance that you will be. The problem though with form is the impact that a lack of form can have on your levels of confidence (and as a result the way that you play). This is because when you are confident your movements are smoother, there is less tension, you make better decision more of the time, and your skill execution is better. These are all things that will impact upon how well you perform. When you lack confidence the opposite happens. You get tense, start questioning yourself, your movements become overly jerky and your decision-making and timing can become worse. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that a confident cricketer will perform better than a cricketer lacking confidence. Which brings us back round to form.
Most players will get a lot of their confidence (or lack of it) from their form (how they are playing). But it is important to know that your form is not the only source of confidence (although it is the one we pay most attention to). Career stats will influence your confidence, but there are other sources as well. Some players get their confidence from how it ‘feels’. That is how it feels when batting or how it feels when bowling. Again this is fine, but what do you do when it doesn’t feel good? You still have to go out and perform. There are other things that you can do that will give you confidence that you have control over.
Some successful players get their confidence from their preparation. Knowing they have done enough or have done their usual preparation can give you the confidence that you are ready. Positive feedback from important people whose opinions you trust can also help. So the coach who’s opinion you respect telling you that you have done a good job will also give you confidence. Maybe not as much as when you are in form, but it helps. Having a number of different places from which you get your confidence will make sure that you only suffer slight changes in your confidence, which will result in you being more confident more of the time. Being more confident more of the time will then result in better performances on a more consistent basis. Which has got to be a good thing for your game. So form is important, but knowing where you get your confidence from is crucial to having consistently high confidence in your ability to play this fantastic game.
It you are interested in the psychology of cricket take a look at the book ‘Psychology of cricket: Developing mental toughness’ published by Bennion Kearney. Further details on the book are available on the publishers website: http://www.bennionkearny.com/The-Psychology-Of-Cricket-Training-Coaching-Playing-Book.htm.
Or find the book on Amazon.