Get out of your form slump, even when you don’t have class | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Get out of your form slump, even when you don’t have class

Creative Commons License photo credit: mer de glace

Who comes to mind when you think of a player with class?

Perhaps your mind brings you to Micheal Vaughan's cover drive, or Shane Warne's constantly accurate variations. Whoever it was, you can be sure they went through some kind of slump in form during their career.

You can empathise with them, but you are not like them in your own game.

The difference between your loss of form and theirs is that they have the old adage behind them: Form is temporary, class is permanent.

What if you don't have that class? Not many club players do, otherwise they wouldn't be in the club game. How do you get yourself back into form?

What is form?

Form seems simple on the surface, but in cricket it means different things to different people. An aggressive fast bowler may put a high price on wicket taking and see going for a few runs as part of the process. A miserly medium pacers might feel he is in form if he takes the odd wicket while slowing the run rate to a crawl. The figures might read 5-68 and 1-22 but both bowlers feel in form.

Figures then, are the result of form. Form itself is much more: It's a feeling.

The ball hits the middle of the bat effortlessly or every catch sticks. In his book on the Zone, Roy Palmer defines the feeling of being in form like this:

"being completely involved in the activity for it's own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you're using your skills to the utmost."

You are sure to have experienced this at some time, and you are bound to have wondered why you can't get back there when you are out of form.

As we can see from that definition, your form is a feeling that comes from within you. It isn't something outside of you that comes and goes as it pleases. You control your form, it doesn't control you.

Knowing this gives you the power to pull yourself out of a slump.

How to get back into the form of your life

Most cricketers feel there is a simple solution to form issues: Play yourself out of it. This can work, but it can also make things worse as you get more tense the longer your bad run goes on.

I would say you need to do more to get into form, stay in form and make the occasional drops in form as short as possible.

Try these steps

  1. Use deliberate practice. Practice makes you better so is important at all times. As Jeremy Snape says, every good practice session is an investment in your form. Use practice to groove your muscle memory and get the feelings of what works (and what doesn't). Improve your technique with a coach and do some middle practice with your team mates. Put simply, do what works: I'm a wicketkeeper and I find doing a simple catching drill with a tennis ball makes a huge difference to my game: It makes me concentrate of catching softly so when when I switch to a cricket ball it seems easy to catch.
  2. Remember the good times. Take a few minutes after every game you play to write down (or blog or twitter) what you did well. You can keep it brief or you can write a full essay on your amazingness. Do this whether you feel you had a good game or a bad game. Try to write down how you felt as well as what happened. The more detailed the better. If you feel your form is lacking then take a few minutes to sit down, read your notes and recall your successes. This will show you that even when out of form you can get back to the old times. It gives you confidence in yourself.
  3. Prepare round the clock. If form comes from within, you owe it to yourself to prepare outside practice too. You might have a specific routine that relaxes you. Anything from a pint the night before the match to yoga could push your buttons. It's important to get enough sleep, eat well and know how to relax. Everyone is different, you may need to track what works and what doesn't over a few weeks or you may already know.

When it comes to form there are two types of personality. Those who treat it as something they expect to be in and those who wonder when it will end. Your mindset needs to be the latter but it's hard to change if it's the former. Start with the steps above and you will give yourself every chance to be relaxed, confident and in form on the cricket pitch.

A question for you

I want to finish this post with a question to you.

How do you get yourself out of form?

Leave a comment with any trick or tips you can add, especially if you have less self confidence and find your form suffers.

© Copyright miSport Holdings Ltd 2008

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Just play the game as best as you can and try to believe in yourself.

Try to relax, except that everyone had a poor run and don't let it get to you. Most of all try to keep enjoying the game.

Accept not except - typing 3 things at once.

Nice Article David. I like the question too - once you start thinking about how to get out of form you realise that the complete opposite will get you into it! I.e. if never practicing; concentrating on what's wrong with your game; and not looking after yourself physically will get you out of form - then guess what will help get you into it Smiling

I also find that I play better if I'm enjoying myself - so I try to have a good attitude towards the game too.

Enjoying the game and thinking about what would happen if i succeed, rather the what if i fail; focus on exactly what you want the ball to to before starting your run up.(as a bowler)

i get myself back in form by getting back to basics and keeping things easy, i also turn to playing "time cricket".

Currently i am out of form , i dont know why? but i think that i hav changed my game style because of continous approaching of my friends, i used to settle down and play lot of balls ,but now i am going to smash evry ball and i am getting out..

I play really good.BUT...i don't know what to do.

After a few low scores I find I occasionally 'convince' myself I'm out of form, if that makes sense. Using phrases such as "Oh, I must be out of form". Which will then lead me to actually being out of form; you start to over-analyse, rather than actually just playing the game instinctively. It seems like a fairly abstract idea but it emphasises the concept of positive reinforcement.
I'd be interested fr your thoughts.

Batting is very much a mental discipline, by which I mean a lot of the reasons you succeed or fail are down to the decisions you take in your head when you're out there in the middle. We learn these lessons as we're learning to bat, and eventually (hopefully) we figure out a method of batting that works for us. However just because we figure it out doesn't mean it will be instinctive: we need to keep reminding ourselves of our batting "rules".

I've seen extremely naturally talented batsmen go for months without scoring double figures, and extremely limited batsmen score ton after ton, all because one has forgotten one of their rules, the other has remembered all of theirs. They have a system that works for them and they stick to it.

So in summary, I think that a run of poor form is simply what happens when you forget one (or more) of your rules. To get back into form, you just need to remember what it was. That's all there is to it. Now think: what was it you forget? It could be something technical to do with keeping your backlift straight, keeping your head still, getting your footwork more positive, or it could be a specific shot selection rule like "don't try to pull on a dodgy pitch" or "don't try to smash the first ball of your innings".

Spend as much delivery as you can..