We all agree that good players are also mentally strong players. Yet despite the reams of coaching materials on technique and fitness, there is no system for developing confident cricketers.
You may, like me, have found yourself frustrated with players.
Despite your best efforts individuals are unable to maintain standards throughout the summer. Form is erratic and tails off at the back end of the season just when it’s most needed.
What I didn’t realise was that the training plan was the problem.
There was no planned goal for the mental elements of the game: just some vague idea that players should be confident with high levels of focus.
Once I realised that; the solution became simple.
Just like our plans for technical and fitness development mental training can be sequenced.
That way you can coach your players to reach a peak during the finals season.
Three Steps to Coaching Mental Strength
What would this plan look like?
Following the periodisation model made popular by Tudor Bompa in the strength training world you can break the coaching year down into 3 stages; each building on the next to a peak:
Deep in the off season, begin with more general mental skills that act as a foundation for more specific work
The aim here is to create cricketers who are motivated internally by:
You can assist with the improvement of motivation with your feedback during this time. We all know how important it is to give positive feedback when players do something right, but you can take this further.
Set up training to include competitive tests that show progress to players. Even small levels of progress are highly motivating people. One good example is Gary Palmer’s Tactical Game (Chapter 6).
Self-motivated players who will do anything to improve are a joy with which to work. This stage is your chance to build that base of motivation.
As the summer gets closer, it’s time to get a little more specific and switch the training to working on concentration skills.
The key job of this phase is to create a player who can ignore distractions and fears. That way, they will be able to focus entirely on the task at hand be it batting, bowling or fielding:
- Creating a pre-game routine
- Developing a method of breathing that reduces tension, like a rugby kicker.
- Choosing a music playlist that builds confidence and reduces pre-game anxiety
These ‘tricks’ can easily be added to training sessions and reviewed regularly so by the time the season arrives your players each have personalised approaches to keeping concentration high.
The final step is, building on previous stages, to create confidence and give players the best chance of getting into “the zone” or flow: the perfect mental state for playing cricket.
As a coach, this planned approach makes integrating mental training into your sessions much easier.
If you want to know more about how to do the things mentioned in the article, enrol on the online coaching course How to Use Mental Training to Boost Your Game on PitchVision Academy.