Here's a Simple Batting Tip to Unclutter Your Mind with Distributed Cognition
Don't you hate it when you can't stop thinking about how you got out?
You sit on the side of the pitch filled with regret and frustration. Sometimes this feeling lasts for days. You kick yourself, you dwell on what you could have done differently. You consider if it's all really worth it.
When it's really bad, you carry all these thoughts into your next innings. Instead of just reacting to the ball you are double checking your technique and tactics and getting your mind in a whirl.
It clutters your mind.
It lowers your batting average.
But you care. You are a thinker about the game and you want to get better. It's only natural to consider what went wrong to stop it going wrong again. After all, anyone can make a mistake once; twice smacks of incompetence.
You can keep the good parts without going through night terrors and waking at 3am screaming about an inswinging yorker.
Experts call it "distributed cognition".
Round here we like to call it "writing stuff down"
Clear your mind: write it down
Your brain is a powerful tool. It's incredible at having ideas, joining things together and solving problems.
It's also terrible at storing these ideas.
When you are racing through possibilities about your batting, each new idea creates a stress on you. You can't remember the first idea after you have had a few. When you try to remember it, you forget the other ideas. No wonder your mind is a mess.
So, cut out the pain and write things down.
That way you no longer need to remember everything. It's on a handy piece of paper. As soon as the idea comes to mind, write it down somewhere. It doesn't matter how stupid the idea might be. Your only job is to capture it so you can review later.
Suddenly you find that you mentally unclench.
The brain is free from its stress and can relax when you are in the middle. "Don't worry" it tells you "we can think about this later, for now, let's just watch the ball shall we?"
The catch: Review often
There is a catch to this batting tip: You also need to review everything you write down.
This is a simple task, and is best done as soon as possible after your innings (including training). You grab up all your notes and go through each one to decide if it's worth exploring, then create an action to take if you want to try it.
Let me give you an example.
A young batsman is facing an accurate spinner in a one day match and unable to rotate the strike. After the game he realises that he could have swept more for easy runs, but at the time he felt he was not confident to play the shot.
He sits down after the match and looks at the note on his phone "sweep spinners!" it says. Underlined.
So, he notes down that at his next net session he is going to practice the run sweep and tuck to build up confidence.
This review is also a great time to come up with new ideas and decide to continue doing things that went well.
So after each innings, sit down and think about:
- What did I do well that I can keep doing?
- What did I do badly that I need to stop doing?
- What can I work on in practice?
- What crazy thing can I do that might just work?
Make sure you turn the "blue sky" thinking into solid actions for the next innings or practice.
How long to think for
How long should this whole capture and review process take?
A few moments to write down a thought to get it out of your head, then perhaps 10 minutes to review things and create some solid actions. Take longer if you need it. You probably won't.
How easy is that?
Let's face it, if you don't set time aside, you will be thinking all the time!
Instead, you feel free from the shackles, your mind is clear and you bat with a purpose that fits your batting style perfectly.
All because you brought a pen to your match.