Be it praise or criticism, tip or coaching, useful or useless; there are always people who want to give you cricket advice.
How do you sort the good from the bad?
How do you deal with bad advice from good people?
It’s not easy.
You might look like someone who doesn’t listen and has no respect. You might go the other way and take bad advice for an easy life, only to harm your game.
If you avoid the traps, a new world of knowledge opens up to you instead. You can pick out the great advice and respectfully abandon the rubbish.
Start with “how”
When you get a tip, don’t be afraid to ask how it will help. What difference will the advice ultimately make and why will it happen.
That’s a nice way of finding out the reasoning behind advice. “Why” is a tough question to ask. It sounds a bit rude. Expressing genuine interest in more information is the opposite, it’s as respectful as it gets. You are treating the advisor seriously by finding out more.
And it’s here you start to analyse the advice.
Look for weaknesses in the reasons. Here are a few that catch people out:
- Something is true for someone else, must be true for you. For example, triggering to off stump will make you bad at playing inswing because I saw it happen to another player.
- A respected authority is used out of context or incorrectly. Example: Ian Pont says to bowl at 140kph you have to brace the front leg. It’s impossible otherwise.
- Assuming if something is probably true, it’s certainly true. Example: If we take ten wickets we will win the game.
- Linking correlation to cause. Example: You have not scored any runs in the last three games and have also got out to left arm spinners. You must have a problem playing spin.
- Assuming greater knowledge. Example: A coach says they “know best” because they have been coaching for 20 years.
If you see reasons with little logical sense like these, be ready to reject the advice.
It’s important to say here, the advice might still be right, even if the logic is wrong.
As the old saying goes, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
So, if you are curious about the logic, delve more into the arguement your advisor is making. Tell them it sounds interesting and you want to know more. Look for proof in statistics, videos or anecdotes. You’ll never be 100% sure but you can weigh the balance to decide.
Let’s say you have batted in nets and the coach says you should play straighter to balls on leg stump.
You know playing straight is very sound advice. When you ask the coach to tell you more they point out you have more chance of hitting the ball using the full face. It’s certainly not based on any logical fallacy. Logically, you can see the point.
Based on this You might agree and go about following the advice.
But you might also reject it.
Say you are really strong off your legs through square leg and pick up many runs, never getting out. Say you have tried the on drive before and find it a big challenge. You might get it with work but right now it’s not an issue.
These are also valid arguments against the advice.
How the heck do you say “no”?
Respectfully saying no depends on the person who’s advice you are rejecting.
I was coaching you and you said flat out “No, that’s not something that works for me”. I would be delighted you have thought about it. I might question you further about your reasons, but eventually I would be satisfied if you were satisfied.
Some people only offer passing remarks anyway (for example comments on social media video). You may not even need to respond. If you do, simply thank them for their advice and move along.
More involved people might take offence. They might see it as you being rude or not listening. This is especially true if you have come back to their advice with questions. You need to be careful with people who have a high stake.
- Thank them for the advice and the time and attention they spent to deliver it.
- Tell them that you have thought about the advice and decided it is not something you want to try right now. Give your reasons.
- Tell them, that you are always open to advice and ideas and are keen to hear every one.
You have been considerate, thoughtful and respectful. You have logical reasons and asked for more advice in future. Anyone who is offended by this probably shouldn’t be giving out advice anyway!
Of course, your words needs to be genuine. Don’t fall into any of the logical traps either (“this idiot has never played for India, his advice must be terrible”). Look for the logic.
Open your mind
One word of caution is this; keep an open mind.
If you are looking for reasons to reject advice you will never change and never grow. It’s much better to err on the side of trying something new or different. As I said before, even when the logic is wrong, the advice might work!
That’s where you need an open mind to try things and see how they go.
It also means you end up rejecting less advice, which helps with your relationships with the advisor.
As someone once said, “the worst vice is advice” but that will not stop people giving it to you. Treat it as intended; as trying to help you. Then, listen hard, assess the logic and be ready to either reject or experiment.
Let me know how you get on.