Cricket can be ruthless. Numbers assigned to your name on a scorecard tells
anyone and everyone you’ve had either a good day or bad. Without doubt, as a
player, cricket has a knack of feeding you failure more often than not.
Learning to cope with these failures is critical in improving and maintaining strong
Earlier this year, I shared some personal reflections surrounding the notion of
reframing performance. The catalyst came midway through last summer – we
(the Otago Volts) were playing poorly, and I was very much a part of it.
So what happened? Management conceptualized a ‘3 pillar’ blueprint; attitude,
preparation and performance. This simple, yet timely reminder created an
upswing and totally altered the lens I was viewing the game through – positively.
Pillar 1: Attitude
I love the ancient legend of the Two Wolves – essentially selecting which
thoughts you want to focus on. The attitude you have towards training, games
and cricket on the whole is something you can control. Values are specific to
everyone but things such as enjoyment, commitment, resilience, competing and
accountability may be useful in a performance context. It’s crucial that your
behaviour then matches these values.
Pillar 2: Preparation.
Any top sports person around the world will tell you that purposeful preparation
plays a significant role in performance. Generally we break the game down into
technical, mental, physical and tactical components. Once again, it’s important to
note that everyone prepares in different ways, but it is critical to find what works
best for you and to be consistent with it. Ultimately, quality preparation allows you
to take the field with the confidence that your skills can match or trump those of
Pillar 3: Performance.
The reason we put in the tireless hours of preparation is to give ourselves a
chance to access our skills come match day. Unfortunately, and the reason why
cricket is so intriguing, success cannot be guaranteed. Weather, playing
conditions and umpiring decisions are out of players’ control and can have a big
impact on performance. Perhaps the biggest obstacle is the opposition, who are
allowed to outskill you on any given day. The outcome inevitably provides a
range of emotions, but it is in the review phase where we must learn to accept,
take the learnings and move on.
There almost becomes a sense of spirituality when we take on this particular
outlook. We own the attitude and preparation phases wholeheartedly, we give all
our efforts of concentration, determination and competing in the match and the
outcome is left to a higher power. I’m certainly not suggesting an approach that
invites complacency or carelessness, but one that promotes muted emotional
reaction when failure arises. Spending less time dwelling on failure opens up the
opportunity to learn at a quicker rate and keep confidence intact for your next
I believe that general well-being habits are also important to make the ‘3 pillar’
perspective more effective. Mindfulness and journaling are tools that I use
frequently, which have encouraged me to accept results and avoid riding the
highs and lows of the game. In my opinion, the real benefit lies in your ability to
‘bounce back’, to hold a consistent mental state and to arrive fresh at your next
training with an eagerness to improve.
As a person who typically felt trepidation, it was somewhat liberating to arrive at a
game with a lessened fear of failure. A classic coach one-liner is “just go out
there and play” – this new-found perception found a heightened meaning in me.
Otago Volts (New Zealand)