Is This One Word Stopping You From Becoming a Cricketer? | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Is This One Word Stopping You From Becoming a Cricketer?

If you had to put cricket into one word, what would you choose?

Some say it's about angles. Others talk about hand-eye coordination, or athleticism. All those things are important but I would choose a different word.



Think about how often you are anxious or afraid as a cricketer; batsmen fear getting out. Bowlers fear getting hit. Wicketkeepers fear dropping the crucial catch.

Even if you have a little more confidence than the average player, you might be afraid of being a success; or afraid of seeming to try to hard; or afraid you are not training enough.

There is always something to fear in cricket.

So good cricketers are the ones who handle fear the best. The ones who can experience their demon dread and carry on regardless.

It's not about being fearless.

Fearless is reckless; fearless is inconsiderate of other players and selfish; and fearless is unrealistic for most of us.

No, handling fear is more complex than pretending it doesn't exist through bluster.

It's about recognising when you are afraid and then getting on with things regardless of the fear.

Because fear is a defence system; it was developed in times when we were in danger of being attacked by a bear or sabre toothed tiger. In those days making the wrong choice was fatal.

The same system kicks in when you are worried about getting out. It's no longer life or death like when we lived in caves but our instinctive brain can't tell the difference.

Fortunately, your rational brain can step in and tell you:

  • It's OK to feel that fear, it's a normal reaction.
  • It's best to let yourself feel that fear and power through anyway.

Irrational fear can stop you from batting with freedom, from practicing as often as you should, from bowling with pace and consistency and from even playing at all.

But it doesn't have to. Just because it's in your mind, you don't have to listen to the dark voice we all have.

Not many coaches show you how to deal with this fear, but there is no doubt in my mind that it's at the centre of every cricketer's game. It's why people say cricket is 80% mental game.

It's why Mark Garaway has said he would always back a team of mentally tough players like Paul Collingwood over a side made up of talented but fear-dominated cricketers.

So learn the skills of fear management and your game will follow.

It's a topic we cover in detail in the online coaching course How to Use Mental Training to Boost Your Game. Using the course you will learn methods for handling the fearful brain and build your confidence up so you can keep practicing and playing even when your instincts are screaming their lies to you.

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Hi David
During matches I struggle to take wickets and this causes me to become hot headed. When I'm fired up I tend to bowl wides and no-balls and this causes me to get angrier with myself to the point where I'm taken off by the captain due to my bowling being awful. Do you have any tips or techniques to help calm myself down?

Hi, David.
I tend to be very twitchy when I begin my Innings and seem to find myself jumping back for a very nervous block. I also tend to get carried away if I am facing a Spinner early on and try to get quick runs heavily. What can I do to reduce this?

I would suggest 2 things; first, you learn how to deal with these moments when you feel them happening. Second you improve your technique so you have more confidence in your ability.

Hi david,

I'm a left arm spinner and i lover to bowl but sometimes pressure gets to me (especially big matches) and i end up bowling rubbish and putting myself down. Any help?

I'd say the article above is a great place to start. Dealing with fear comes through building up confidence in your skills, then knowing how to stay focused on playing your game even under pressure.

I'd take a look at the online course advertised at the end of the article.

Hi David,
I was trying to find a way of Bowling a good Bouncer without getting into a high delivery stride. But nothing I've tried seems to even go where I want it to. I've tried looking at where I want to pitch the ball (ended up being a full toss); I've tried gripping the ball harder; I've tried to change my action even (getting down low upon release). Nothing seems to work. What could I do?

Dave good article and I agree with what you have written.
Im currently research pre delivery routine in cricket batting for my phd from a sport psychology view point. For the batsmen who have written in I would say that dave's advise is good, fear is there for anyone. Read Steve Waughs autobiography or Justin Langers seeing the sunrise for good examples of fear and performance.
Using a routine prior to delivery can help reduce fear (not get ride but reduce), practice using the routine in nets before using it in a game. The routine had to be individual to you and familiarity of a routine had been shown within other sports to reduce fear of failure.
Bowling can also be improved through a routine, just like using the same run up. Familiarity helps reduce fear, as for wickets, they are the outcome. You can't control that focus on the process is line and length, Glenn McGrath was an excellent example.
Also image situations that make you highly worries, fearful or anxious. Then change things to make you more comfortable. The fear will always be there, but this familiarity with the situation may reduce the effect on performance. See for an article on preparation and fear.

Cheers Adam, I think we spoke a while back before you started your research. I have a proposal for you - can you drop me an email?

I am a left hander.When i become confident and try to hit out of the ground,i get out.And when i get a bowl on my thigh that is facing the bowler i try to hit it but it hits my thigh.

I am a 15 yrs old boy playing cricket from 3 yrs. I have a good bowling and im happy with it. But coming to batting i get nervous as soon as i enter the crease. Due to the fear i cant do a good footwork.i just run away from it or leave it. I play the balls only which are striaght on the sticks or on offside. But playing legside is a very duffucult task and even the bouncers are very scary. I scared of getting hit before but that has become my rotiioune now. I am frustrated of this. I have played hanging ball to over come fear and gain sone confidence but it has not worked. I still practice hanging ball.pls help me to over come this batting fear
Thank you.