Train hard; get better. Do your drills. It's a simple mantra, but it's missing a crucial part of the process of practice to improve. Cricketing technique, tactics and mental strength require one more "drill".
By thinking of review as a drill, and reflecting on your practice and games, you will get better faster. You will even get better between practice sessions. It works by giving you a feedback loop that has been proven to boost skills faster than anything else. It gives direction to your training, encouragement that things are working and confidence that you can repeat the right skill at the right time.
Yet, most of us don't bother much with it.
We go to training, hit a few balls and walk away satisfied. Another thought is not given until the next session. Or even worse, some people subconsciously review and let a negative peak end rule cloud their confidence. That road only leads to worse performance, not better.
The solution is as simple as a review drill.
What happened and why did it happen?
So, once your session or game has finished, your "drill" is to find out what happened. For most of us, this is done from memory, but be careful how much you rely on what you remember. It's unreliable. To make sure, use whatever tools you have:
- Coach/trusted observer feedback
- Stats (for example, from the scorebook)
It's vital to get as wide a picture as possible. You might prefer looking at the stats, or you might prefer talking things through with someone you trust. The key point is to have a realistic view on how well things went, what you were strong on and what areas need to be improved.
You can also come up with some ideas as to why things happened the way they did. You know yourself, and you know what you need to give yourself the best chance of success. If you prepared perfectly and things still went badly, what else was happening? If you felt things didnt go right in the session, what could be the reason behind it?
How long will this take?
That's up to you. Some will be satisfied with a five minute chat with the coach, others will go heavy into the stats. Take your pick, but always take that step back and longer view.
How do you move forward?
You're almost done with your review at this point, but before you finish, always make a plan of how to move forward.
Lets say you got bogged down in a one day game and couldn't score quickly. You realise this is because you were not hitting the gaps. What's your plan to improve this area? Simply having a net is not enough, so you need to adapt somehow. Is middle practice the way forward?
Try and be detailed here. It's not enough just to think that you need to hit the gaps. You also need to think what conditions were in place for gap hitting; the bowler, the pitch and the ball age. Will these things be the same the next game, or will you practice hard hitting the gaps against a spinner on a slow pitch only to find you are facing a pace attack on a quick wicket the next game?
And while you are planning, think about how you can turn your strength into a super strength. Are you excellent at bowling yorkers at the death? How about working on getting even more accurate, or putting on a yard of pace with it too?
Make review a drill you can't miss
You'll notice this process is not about beating yourself up after a bad game. It's an extension of every net session and every game. It's just another drill to do. It should be something you do without question because it has such a powerful effect on your game.
Maybe you write it down (journalling is a brilliant way to make your thoughts clear), maybe you chat it through with a coach. Maybe you sit at a laptop and review every ball. With PitchVision it's possible. However you do it, your review drill should leave you feeling clear and focused about how to improve your weaknesses and boost your strengths.
And, when you do it enough, you'll also be boosting your average far more than any other drill you can do.