Good cricketers are tough in all situations.
You might be on top and in control, or fighting to get out of a jam. The context might change but your ability to fight out stays the same.
Some people are naturals at this mental game: they need no training to stay confident, focused and self-aware. Aside from these genetic freaks, the rest of us need a little more work. Work that no amount of time getting throwdowns or bowling at PitchVision can ever give. Work that happens in your head.
Want the good news?
This work gets real, tangible results in runs and wickets. You don't even need to be at nets, or have anyone to train with. You just need you, and your mind, and some time to think.
And honestly, when you spend that time to think, you realise this stuff is a total no-brainer. Some people think it's weird to think about how you think. Just unpacking that sentence is hard work. I say it's weirder to go out onto the pitch having never thought about how you can better handle tough situations.
People always tell you to play your natural game. For almost all of us - and certainly you if you have read this far - the only way to do that is to know your natural game.
So, take 20 minutes today to think about these questions below, better understand your game and put yourself in the best position to succeed when your chance comes.
Cricket mental toughness questions
- Do I know what I am like when I am play at my best?
- Do I know how to deal with distractions when they arrive?
- Have I prepared in the best way possible in the time available?
- Have I thought positively about my game?
- Do I have a role and game plan?
- Do I know how to relax when I need to?
- Do I know how to fire myself up?
- Do I have the right pre-match routine for me?
- Do I have a way of staying committed even in adverse situations?
If you can answer "yes" and then explain each one to yourself - or better someone else - you're a good, mentally tough cricketer who plays her natural game.
And if you can't?
Most of us can't nail all the answers.
Instead, make it you mission to work out the answers to these questions.
Try new methods of preparation. You might be surprised.
Look at how you talk to yourself in the middle and experiment with different types of self-talk during practices sessions.
See how you react to different pressures and work out how you best deal with them. Cricket can throw up some very strange situations ranging from batting collapses to huge batting stands. How you react to these moments tells you a lot about who you are as a cricketer.
Work out your excuses. Be honest about when you need an excuse compared to when you are covering a failure.
Think about what gets you in the best frame of mind. Do all you can to keep getting back there.
But most of all, just answer those questions. Think of it as an ongoing process you do every day and get closer to you dreams as a player.