Do you ever find yourself falling asleep in the field?
Have you ever got out to a poor shot after batting well for a while?
If so then it's time to work on your concentration skills.
Many boffins think that the amount you can concentrate is fixed at about an hour per day. The way to get better is to concentrate less at the right time.
The way to do this is to teach yourself to switch on and off at the right moment
Cricket requires only a few seconds of intense concentration. This gives you plenty of time between balls to switch off and save your concentration for the right moment. However, you do need to be able to turn it back on and you do this by using a cue or trigger. Y
ou can trigger yourself back to intense concentration in any way you like but it needs to be consistent to you. Here are some example triggers:
- Use a trigger phrase such as 'ready' or 'switch on'.
- Tapping the bat down in your stance.
- Wiping your hand on your shirt
This will focus you on the delivery and nothing else.
You are aiming to trigger yourself into a state of mind where you are totally focused, almost trance-like.
You can also use coaching triggers. I am a wicketkeeper and I often use the trigger 'hands, ball' to remind myself to get my gloves and body in the right place for a clean take. Batsmen could say 'watch the ball' or 'head in line' while bowlers could think 'top of off stump'. If done correctly, during those few seconds it is almost impossible to distract you and stress is used to focus your mind.
Sometimes this is called flow or the zone.
Dealing With Distraction
Stressful distractions such as sledging or a poor performance can stop you concentrating properly. This can be an easy trap for some people to fall into (in sports psychology these people are called non-screeners).
The only way to avoid it is to recognise when you are focusing your thoughts on negative distractions and re-focus yourself. Especially if you are aware that you may be a non-screener and sensitive to distraction.
You could simply use your next trigger point to do this, or perhaps you need to have a stronger word with yourself during a break in play.
Once the ball is completed you can relax your mind. Think of something else, talk about the weather or tell a bad joke. The key is to relax until the point where you next trigger your concentration
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