The Psychology of Cricket: Part 1
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The Psychology of Cricket

Part 1: Use Your Head
As we all know, a cricket pitch is twenty-two yards long. But if you want to improve your cricket, you need only concentrate on six inches. The vital six inches is not found on the pitch; it is located between your ears.

More than any other sport, with the possible exception of chess, cricket is a mental game. It is played with the mind as much as with the body. This will come as no great surprise to anyone. What is so surprising is that despite the fact that everyone knows cricket is a mind game, most players and teams practice their technique, but spend little or no time developing the mental skills that are required to reach and maintain their potential. Far too many players fail to reach their potential because they don't spend enough time working on the mental side of their game.

How does the mind affect cricketers? Consider the following questions:

  1. If a batsman is good enough to regularly get to thirty or forty, then he is good enough to get to a hundred or more. Yet so few do it. Why? It can't be that their technique is faulty, otherwise they wouldn't have made it to forty so often.
  2. Why do so many batsmen get to a hundred and then get out before reaching 110? Does their technique suddenly desert them?
  3. Why is it that a team that is chasing 255 to win and has reached 200 for 4 so frequently loses from that position?
  4. Why does a bowler who usually has good line and length, start spraying them all over the place after he's been hit to the boundary a couple of times in one over? Has he suddenly forgotten how to bowl?
  5. Why do good fielders sometimes drop 'sitters'? Do they forget how to catch?
  6. Why are some batsmen more affected by sledging than others?

Problems like these won't be cured in the nets. To answer these riddles we need to understand what is going on inside the players' heads. Once we know the cause of the problem, we can start to work on a cure.

You don't need to spend years at university learning psychology to improve your game. But by learning a few mental skills you can become a better cricketer. You can:

  • Improve your concentration.
  • Stay calm in pressure situations.
  • Reach your goals.
  • Work on improving your technique while lying in bed.
  • Build your motivation.
  • Develop your self-confidence.
  • Enjoy your game.

There are dozens of coaching manuals that can help you to improve your technique, but very few that will show you how to develop your mental skills. While it is important to master the basic skills of cricket, it is equally important that you give yourself a regular 'check up from the neck up'.

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