We are all guilty of the odd discretion from time to time, yet we all want to improve as cricketers. So let's work together to banish the poor habits and replace them with efficient and effective ones instead.
If you are any good, your career might just depend on it.
Having a hit
As a coach, this is my number one gripe with players. We all know netting is a great way to practice. The problem is that when it's done badly it's next to useless. And that badness I'd defined by the term "I'm having a hit"
On the surface it sounds good. You are getting your eye in. You are finding form. It is building up your deliberate practice. In reality, these terms mean nothing. I was once told by a player at an off season net (6 months before the season started) that he was trying to find some rhythm.
Great. What would he do with it for half a year when he found it?
I'll tell you what: Lose it again.
So banish "having a hit" and replace it with accountable practice with purpose. If for no other reason than to stop me tearing my hair out.
Bowling no balls
How many no balls did you bowl in the last 12 months?
Even if the answer is "zero" I want you to consider this bad habit removal tool for the sake of your team mate who somehow bowled 29 of the things. This is because it's so easy to fix with one simple change: Don't bowl no balls in practice.
I have never heard an argument in defence of bowling practice no balls. The best I hear is that "I never bowl them in games" which is fine for that individual but shows a lack of discipline in the team that leaks into other bowlers who do bowl no balls.
Put it to an end by having a blanket policy for anyone who bowls (even the keeper at nets) That no balls are never bowled.
It's much better to bowl from the bowling crease than it is to go over the popping crease. It makes no difference to pace and it kills no ball problems.
Now, I appreciate that for some cases, no balling is a bigger issue that needs a proper intervention. If that's you, then click here.
Doing what you always did
There is a famous saying that if you do what you always did, you get what you always got. Some people are OK with that. They go about doing things "the right way" because "it's always been fine for me". This stops them trying new things.
I can see that argument, but I also disagree. Sufficent is not optimal. You can almost always improve where you are with a change. Admittedly, you are also increasing your risk of failure and this often puts people off. I would suggest that if you constantly are looking for ways to improve you will be well up on the deal in the long run. As another saying goes; you have to speculate to accumulate.
So what does this look like?
The list goes on. I would encourage you to think through some things and have the confidence to try. With such tough competition for places, can you afford to cruise?
Listening to your coach
I read an interview with English wicketkeeper Joss Buttler recently where he said he had many good and influential coaches who helped him a great deal, yet easily his best coach was himself.
This wasn't hubris. This is true for everyone. It's a sentiment you hear from so many top players and coaches the evidence is overwhelming. The days of the coach telling you the one right way to do things are gone.
If you have a coach who tells you the correct way to do something you might get lucky and his method matches the way you play. But what if it doesn't? What if you lead with your feet into a drive when the coach insists you lead with your head? Techniques and mental make ups do differ greatly enough to mean that the copybook can only ever apply to a small percentage of cricketers.
Of course, you should be respectful of your coach. Yet, you should also question his theories and practices. Find out why he is doing something. It may be that his method is not for you after trying it. Have the confidence to speak up and forge your own path. It's your career, your body, your mind.
Good coaches are energised by players challenging them. They will challenge you right back. You will have great fun finding out who's ideas are better.