How long does it take to serve your apprenticeship?
Cricket is frustrating. You want to achieve the mastery that your talent allows but you need to go through a long and difficult apprenticeship.
Even the most naturally talented players had to do it, so you are no exception.
Sachin Tendulkar has had more glory poured on him than any other batsman. And rightfully so, his performances with the bat have made Indian's proud. He was an international as a teenager, but even he served his apprenticeship.
As a boy, Sachin would play game after game and bat for hours, practising, honing his methods, learning how to bat in every situation with confidence. It's a story you hear time and time again from every successful player: Pietersen, Duminy, Bracken...
There's no doubt that everyone serves their time before they become a top class player.
That's all well for top internationals, but how long does your apprenticeship take?
If you ask most experts they will give you a ball park figure - taken from research - of about 10,000 hours of practice.
Beyond 10,000 Hours
While that's an interesting idea because it demonstrates that you need to do a lot of focused practice to succeed, it's also not the most accurate of numbers. Some people take much less time, some take a lot more.
What's more useful, is to focus on something more tangible. Remember, as an apprentice, your job is to learn and develop:
- A plan for your week, your month and your year
- A way of measuring results
Your planning doesn't have to be too elaborate, but without a map, you have no way of knowing where you are going. Decide on the areas that you want to improve and starting thinking how you can practice these areas specifically.
Some areas to get you started thinking are:
- technical issues
- fitness levels
- performance under pressure
- nutrition, hydration and sleep
- tactical nous
There are more, but you get the idea.
Congratulations apprentice, you are on the road to mastery.
A word of warning here, it's just as easy to plan too much as it is to plan too little. You can spend all your time trying to develop the perfect plan that doesn't really exist. Things change and you might find you plan can't be used. So plan out your route to the goal but always be aware that playing trumps everything (even if the playing is not perfectly planned).
Measure twice, cut once
However, practice - even to a plan - is nothing without being tracked.
If you don't measure your performance, you default to your unreliable memory, which can set you back.
So, find a measure that gives you satisfaction that you are improving.
Perhaps this is bowling speed or accuracy, or both. You can track these with PitchVision. Perhaps is the weight you can squat in the gym. There are a range of "performance indicators" that you can use to focus on your success.
Again, you don't need a lot or a complex matrix. Just a guide to keep you on your path and the make sure your training is improving you in the way you wish to improve.
With these elements in place - planning, practising with purpose and reviewing - you are on the road to becoming a master.
It's still going to take a very long time, even the greats found that to be true, but with work and talent combined you will get there. It takes determination with many giving up on the way, but the mark of the top player is demonstrated by the ability to stay motivated, never give up and show grit on the long hard journey from apprentice to master.