When you watch cricket on television, it can appear to be quite an easy and simple sport, but under the helmet of the batter, there is a whole different game going on inside the batters mind in an attempt to banish any possible distractions, and focus every bit of mental energy on the ball as it is released from the bowlers hand, this is the psychological side to batting.
As a batter, your aim is to score runs, stay in and help your team reach a certain particular target. To achieve this, you need to be in the correct mental state. To help reach this state of fierce concentration there are several things that you must do.
Firstly, you need to be clear your mind of any possible distractions, distractions can come in many forms; these may be concerns about the pitch, fielder’s comments, being scared of the ball, fear of getting out etc. These matters need to be cleared out of the head prior to the start of the bowlers run up to allow for the stages of concentration that will soon follow, this is vital, if there are distractions floating around your mind, you are sure not to be focussing to your optimum level and are more likely to male a mistake.
Every ball requires you to concentrate at your highest possible levels, and in so you should have a strategy to help you concentrate. I was taught by a prominent cricketing figure this following method that I find extremely useful in exploiting my maximum concentration levels. Firstly, after clearing all distractions from your mind, as the bowler starts to run up, you should enter a state of fine focus, in this state, your mind should have no negative thoughts and be concentrating on the top half of the bowler, you vision should be like a television, only focussed in on the top half of the bowler as her approaches, in this period you should have constructive positive thoughts, for example I say to myself over and over “Focus, watch the ball, focus, watch the ball” etcà By doing this and saying positive statements, it stops negative thoughts entering the mind and also stops any possible distractions drifting into your thoughts.
As the bowler enters his final steps your focus level should increase to what is commonly known as a state of fierce focus, in this stage all mental powers should be focusing on the ball and the ball only, your mental screen should now just be the size of the ball. This allows your brain to compute and work out the line, length and flight of the ball and so gives you the maximum amount of time to help you get your feet and body into position as early as possible helping giving you the best possible chances of making a good decision and playing a good shot.
This should be applied to nets as well as matches as this will get you well trained and so it becomes second nature.
The Mental and Psychological side to Cricket – Bowling
As a bowler, like batting, to gain optimum results, there are certain thought processes that need to take place. Again, like batting you need to eradicate possible distractions from your mind as you prepare to bowl, such distractions include worries about the batsmen “hitting out”, fear of making mistakes e.g. bowling down the leg side/a wide etc. With negative thoughts running through your mind, you are much more likely to tense up and make mistakes, your thought patterns should always remain positive.
Bowlers need a game plan (I discuss game plans in the free e-book), and they should plan their next ball as they are walking back to their mark. If you are deciding what ball you are going to ball while you run up, then you are likely to get caught in two minds and make mistakes. If you decide prior to starting your run up what type of ball you are going to bowl, e.g. slower ball, it gives you the opportunity to really focus and concentrate on how and where you want to pitch the ball. How you go about deciding where about you focus on e.g. the base of off stump, or where you want to pitch the ball is very much a personal matter which should be worked out in nets as everyone is different.