How Brain Training Lead to 17 Hundreds Last Cricket Season | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

How Brain Training Lead to 17 Hundreds Last Cricket Season

Duncan Fletcher had lots of “Fletchisms”. One of my favourite Fletcherisms is “train the brain!”.


This was purely about shifting the brain from a “flabby, Old England way” of thinking to a “high performing, New England way”. His words, not mine!

In modern coaching terms, this is all about moving people from a fixed to growth mindsets. Growth and fixed mindsets are the brainchild of Carol Dweck. Look her work up. It’s simple and brilliant.

Both Fletcherisms and growth mindset principles have influenced my coaching practice over the years. A recent example of this came in my early days at Millfield.

I was concerned about the lack of 100’s in the batting through all of the squads. I saw lots of talent and heaps of examples of players throwing away 100’s and match winning situations because they didn’t have the “finisher” mindset. They were happy to score pretty 60’s and then leave it to someone else (who invariably didn’t!)

So I thought long and deep about how we as the coaching team could influence and shift the behaviours that underpin a change in performance outcome.

We linked some fixed mindset behaviours in our cricket practice to our inability to finish a job off on the field and decided to attack out practice methodology, challenge training attitudes and pick holes in ‘average bloke’ behaviour.

I was convinced that there was a correlation between mindset, behaviours and the batting performance on the field.

Change mindset, change performance

We simply wanted to change the way that people went around their business on a day to day basis. I was convinced that the slack behaviours in practice were sitting behind our lack of “daddy hundreds”. Here are some examples:

“Last 6 balls”

That familiar shout at the end of a batting net.

The fixed mindset:

“It’s a chance to play completely differently. Go for it. It doesn’t matter if i get out doing something stupid”

The growth mindset:

“A chance to finish what I started - Let’s make my focus for this net stronger than ever for the last 6 balls - See my practice through - This will help me to get to 115 no with a win under my belt (the best feeling in the world).”

S&C sessions last 10 seconds

In a circuit session, halfway through the circuit, last 10 seconds of a burpee set.

The fixed mindset:

“Time to relax as nearly there. It’s ok, no one will see me slack off, nearly time for a rest as I can then look good in the next bit of the circuit.”

The growth mindset:

“These last 10 seconds of effort will make me stronger than my competitors. I will be better prepared to run the hard runs and make the clearest of decisions when my heart rate is flying!”

Tidy up time at the end of a session. Session ends, mats, stumps, cricket balls need tidying up. The player has just had a great net and feels great about his game.

The fixed mindset:

“It’s not my job to tidy up, someone else will do it. I bet Ricky Ponting never tidied up at the end of a session”

By the way, Rick tidied up every time I worked with him.

The growth mindset:

“If we roll the mat up perfectly then it will make our practice better in the future. The better we get at finishing the tidy up in super quick time the more efficient we will be when given the chance to kill off the opposition. If I am responsible doing the more mundane things then I will be responsible when it comes to making the winning decisions and scoring the winning runs.”

As a coaching team we were relentless in our messaging. And bit by bit, the behaviours of the squads started to change. It was brilliant to view.

Yet what were the results? Did it have any impact on batting performance?

Hundreds at Millfield

  • 2012: 4 Hundreds
  • 2013: 3 Hundreds
  • 2014: 5 Hundreds
  • 2015: 17 Hundreds

Guess which year we started our growth mindset?

I am certainly not saying that this is conclusive proof that changing some pretty basic mindsets will have similar performance gains in your teams as that would be bonkers.

We had lots of good players at the school last year who got into the habit of scoring match winning tons. They should take all the credit. Not the coaches.

But I reckon that the lessons they learnt in growth mindset may have helped just a little bit.

Give it a go and see what happens.

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