Imagine it's the morning of your biggest game of the season. What do you do to focus your mind on the task at hand?
It's all down to routine.
Whether you bat or bowl, we all feel better when we are in control and are able to predict what is going to happen. You can't do that about the game, but you can do it about your preparation right up until the start of the match.
Routine allows us to avoid the stress of surprises and progress smoothly from waking up to the start of play with everything you need in place. This is not only practical, it helps your game.
You probably have some kind of routine already. A certain superstition you have or a mental plan you always follow on match days. Some people plan it all out in fine detail, others less so.
But routine is about more than superstition, it's about the scientifically proven principle of control: The more you control, the more you feel in control, the less anxious you feel and the better you perform.
If you find yourself too anxious at any point before the game, you might want to consider rethinking your routine (or even planning it out if you are not sure what it is).
Here are some elements outlined by Bob Woolmer that you can plan out ahead of time:
- The likely state of the pitch. Green top or dusty bowl? Slow or quick?
- The weather report. Will you need two jumpers or a sunhat and lotion? Might the ball swing or be hard to grip in the wet?
- The opposition. Do you need certain tactics to certain opposition players? Will you be sledged and are you ready for it?
- The ground. What is the outfield like? Are there any local rules? What facilities are on hand? What are the changing rooms like?
- Food and drink. Are the refreshments you like supplied or will you need to bring your own?
- Equipment and clothing. Is everything you need packed? Is your bat and helmet in good condition?
- Team talks. Are you switched on and listening? Are you making a positive contribution?
- Support Are your external affairs in order? Is there anything happening in your life that might distract you if it not in hand shortly?
You have control over your reaction to each of these, yo just need to think about it beforehand to make sure nothing is missed and you are not in a panic
The biggest difference in routine comes between bowlers and batsmen.
Batters will do better the calmer they are. This means all your batting preparations are best focused around preventing stress. Not much is worse for your stress levels than being next man in only to find out you packed one batting glove, something that is easy to avoid with a solid routine!
Bowlers benefit more from getting riled up before coming on to bowl. Bowling is much more dynamic and explosive. If you are bowling you can adjust your routine to get yourself in a heightened mental state instead of calming yourself down. That said, the best way to do this is to ensure all the routine 'stuff' is done so you can focus on getting yourself ready for action.
Everyone will have a different routine, so it's worth experimenting with what works for you.
One way of doing this experimenting without the risk is sharing your unique experiences with others. Coaches and team mates you trust can all chat to you about building up a routine that is specific to you.
What if you don't have any likeminded people to confide in? Even if you have them, what if you want more examples to work with?
That's where PitchVision Academy comes in. A new service specifically designed to help you meet and interact with coaches and likeminded cricketers around the world.
Stay tuned for more information.
Image credit: sidnid