Taking wickets is about more than just good bowling and fielding.
The atmosphere and energy on the field helps create a setting where you give your team a better chance of playing well. It's a big mistake to not manage your team's energy.
If you are not careful, you start too high, clapping and cheering, then dip too low, resigned to your fate as the batsmen get on top. Resigned silence is not a good look.
Here's what to do to avoid this fate
Match up honestly
On-field energy is largely dictated by the game situation. Things match up.
If the opposition are 50-5 chasing 280 you are going to be ebullient. If they need 10 to win from five overs with eight wicket in hand you are not going to be in the same atmosphere.
These moments are not so important as they look after themselves.
What is more interesting is when things are tighter. How you choose to react makes a difference.
If your energy in a close game is similar to when you are on top of a game, you are showing the batsmen you have confidence in your ability (or no confidence in theirs).
We all know how fragile batting confidence can be, and playing on this with full focus makes a difference.
But it needs to be honest.
Shouting and sledging is hard to keep up over a whole game. It tends to be obvious when a team are "faking it".
What is more honest, and powerful, is knowing what keeps you motivated and focused and doing what it takes to stay there. For some, this is silence and gritted teeth. For others it's innane babble. Find out where everyone's sweet spot is and keep them there by working together.
You might even want some triggers that lock people back in to their game if you see them drifting. For example, the side I coach has a volatile character who gets motivated by shouting at people. We accept his often foolish ranting as a tool he uses.
That said, the same guy can spill from self-motivation to demotivation of his own team (and riling up opposition batsmen in the wrong way). So, we make sure to understand and manage moments like this. He is an extreme example, but everyone in the team will have their motivations. Find them and use them while avoiding slipping into over-negative mindsets.
In this way the team atmosphere is very much a collection of individual honest choice made. If everyone makes the right choice for them, every feels the right energy in the team.
Video analysis of games can help with this, as you can go back and see how people were acting at different phases, working out how to make an honest, positive change when the energy feels wrong.
Act totally different
The alternative to the above plan is to defy convention.
You know we love defying convention at PitchVision!
Imagine how much of a knock your opponents confidence would take if you got out their star batsman and hardly reacted at all. All in a day's work. Next.
Imagine how angry and distracted a batsman might get if you start fooling around between balls in a tight match.
Moments like that can happen spontaneously in a team with a good spirit, but they tend to happen when you are on top, and not in tighter moments. But you can plan them too.
Here's an example: Before the game, identify their star batsman. Decide what unusual tactic you will take, such as total silence for the first over they face (especially good for batters who like a battle). Decide also that when you get them out, you will not celebrate. You will just gather together with not much of a word.
It's all mind games that might work or might be ignored. But cricket is mostly in the head, so something unusual always has a chance if you try it.
- Team atmosphere has an effect on results
- The energy in a side is made up of individual honest choices
- The best teams have players who know their mental triggers and can manage them
- You can play mind games, but they don't always work!