Have you ever seen a tailor make a suit?
It's a systematic process of fittings, measurements and adjustments to get the perfect fit to your shape. It's a method that has worked to produce the finest suits in existence and it's one you can adapt to improve your cricket.
Just like a tailor, you can maximise your training and preparation so it becomes perfect for you. Also like making a suit, there is no simple way to reach perfection right way. It takes time, effort and attention to detail.
And just like a great suit, the results will last you for years. Let's look at how you do it.
1. Start with a template
The first part is to start with a good basic template. In cricketing terms this falls into:
You might also include recovery.
It doesn't matter what template you pick initially as long as it is something that has been proven to work and you can stick with for 2-4 weeks.
2. Follow the plan for 2-4 weeks
It's important to stick with the plan you choose for at least 2 weeks. Any less than this and it's hard to see any results. You also need to make sure that during this time you don't stray from the plan. If you do then the results will not be correct and you can't properly assess its effectiveness.
3. Check the results
You don't need to do a battery of testing every couple of weeks to see results but you do need something to measure. Steer clear of directly relating runs/wickets to any changes you make as factors out of your control also have an influence on sports performance (such as the form of the opposition or the quality of the wickets).
Instead focus on direct tests:
- Diet: Amount of weight lost/gained.
- Fitness: Amount of weight lifted, distance run and speed over 22 yards. Visual evidence (do you look better).
- Training: Coaches assessment of your technical improvements, your own training journal.
- Mental preparation: Use a journal to record after a game how confident you felt, how much negative thinking was in your game, how well you concentrated and anything else of importance to your mental game.
Be creative about it and work out some direct measures to properly assess what is working and what is failing. It's certainly worth keeping a training/playing log at all times. This will allow you to go back over the training you did before a good performance. If you see a trend you can stick with it. Your log might include anything worth recording: What you ate, how much you slept, what type of training you did at nets, what fitness work you are doing and even how you feel.
4. Adjust where needed
If everything is going according to plan and you are making progress then carry on doing what you are doing. It's working.
If no positive changes are happening you need to tweak your plan to make it better. If you are trying to lose weight you need to reduce the amount you eat slightly. If you are trying to develop a perfect yorker you need to increase the amount you practice it.
5. Go back to step 2 and continue
As your plan becomes more tailored you can continue through the loop. Keep going back, trying, testing and reviewing. Keep doing this until you reach your goal.
For most people this tailor-like systematic work, test and review plan takes the guesswork out of cricket. Form is no longer something mysterious and fleeting. You can work out what brings you into form and what takes you out of it. That sense of control can only work wonders for your game.