Use Purposeful Practice to Become a Better Cricketer

This is a guest article by club cricketer Brian Wardle

I recently read Bounce: a book by Mathew Syed, who believes everyone has the ability to be successful.

Yes, everyone.

There are various accounts in this book of how elite sports stars have achieved greatness, not through a genetic advantage but through repetitive, purposeful practice.

Thinking about it, this really does make sense. Look at any cricketer who has made it to the top. It's not by chance.

It's because he or she has spent hours and hours practising and honing their skill.

It's said a minimum of 10,000 hours of purposeful practice is needed to achieve elite status. And this, I believe is because the skill or task you perform has to be ingrained into your subconscious, so that when you are required to perform, the action is automatic.

Think about batting, where you have only milliseconds to react.

If you have to think about your shot selection as the ball is being bowled you have already lost valuable time. You might get away with it at club level where bowlers are slower but if you want to reach county or even international status then you need to have made up your mind moments before the ball has even been released.

It’s the batters ability to anticipate and look for visual clues which determines whether he hits a glorious cover drive for 4 or walks back miserably to the pavilion having nicked one to first slip.

This can only be achieved through thorough preparation, experience and knowledge of the opponent.

Here are some tips to help you on your way.

Practice mindfully

Have an aim and an objective in mind for your practice sessions: whether it’s defending the short ball or bowling the away swinger. If you’re not doing this in practice then how can you be expected to do it when it matters?

Analyse your opponents

Look ahead to see which team you will be playing. Pick out key players who are likely to do the damage and see where their strengths and weaknesses lie. This links back into the first point, because you now have a purpose to practice.

Video your practice or performances

This is one of the best things you can do as this gives you and the coach instant feedback as to where your going right or wrong. This plays a huge part in boosting a player’s confidence but also allows you to break movements down and highlight specific areas for improvement.

Plus you get to replay it over and over so you can visualise what you need to do better.

You want to become the best you can be. Use these tips and you will be well on your way. 

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Comments

Absolutely Brian! I particularly like the analysis advice; both the opponents and yourself.

Analysing the opponent is something we do quite commonly in rugby; sitting in front of a screen watching and identifying strengths and weaknesses [collectively and individually] and how to overcome and maximise these as a team. This all goes back to 'professional performance'. OKay, it might not be possible to watch footage of other club teams but how many batsman actually sit during a match, prior to their stint and even watch, let alone analyse, what the bowlers are doing? How many bowlers are keeping an eye on the batsman's technique and peculiarities?

A couple of times this season I managed to go scout our opposition the weekend before we played them. It gave us an idea of roughly what we would be up against. I'm not entirely sure whether it really made any difference to the outcome of the game though, its difficult to get any information specific enough to be incredibly useful, but even stuff like "their opening batsmen looked solid but were scoring very slowly" or "their change bowlers didn't look up to much" help formulate an informed game plan.

Of course in club cricket, the personnel can change dramatically from one week to the next as people go on holiday, so you might be barking up completely the wrong tree.

Fair point AB. Surely having some knowledge about your opponents is better than nothing. Knowing a batsmens weakness or where he prefers to play can definitely have an advantage. We have found it extremely useful at our club Smiling

Oh absolutely Brian. Knowing what bowlers they have in reserve helps you plan your batting line up and target run rate (this actually ties in with my article yesterday), and knowing what batsmen they have helps you plan your bowling changes.

gr8 article.; bounce is also a truly great read!

I like it Brian. Purposeful practice and being mindful are key elements to improving as a player or coach.

I would also stress the importance of performance routines and putting these into practice during training so that the match day is similar to training. The more quality the performance routine the more energy is available to focus toward competition. A performance routine makes it easier for the mind to relax, experiencing a sense of calm: therefore, the player has more energy to focus and concentrate on the job at hand whatever that might be.

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