Want some top tips from a professional cricketer and sport psychology guru?
This week England and Leicestershire player Jeremy Snape celebrated the launch of his new member's area at Sporting Edge by talking cricket thinking and the World Twenty20 with me.
What was your experience at the World Twenty20 like and what did you learn?
It was a fascinating trip from my point of view. At first glance I could say a long way to go for 1 over but to play again for England, especially at Newlands was amazing. I learnt That twenty20 is still a fairly new game at International level and that despite playing a lot domestically, our international team will need to adapt quicker next time to the specific demands of the game.
We are often taught as cricketers to 'switch off' between balls. How can we learn to do this?
By using a performance routine. Most people have habits and mannerisms like twiddling their bat or 'reparking' their box. The key is to build in thinking triggers to these too so that they help you to split up the time between balls into downtime, strategy and then switching off again for instinctive play.
Club cricketers make more mistakes than professionals. How can the average player deal with the error he makes on the pitch so they don't effect him as much?
Errors are part of sport, but if the error didn't cost you your wicket, what is the loss? Style, impressing others or something? The most impressive thing is someone who finds a way to be successful each time he/she plays. Ugly runs are great because after a small amount of personal satisfaction, we all play to win.
Your colleague Paul Nixon is well known for his noise behind the stumps yet many cricket fans are against such tactics. What are your views?
Nico is not an abusive cherper, he uses the subtle art of psychological distraction to great effect. I think confusing people is a huge part of the game whether with changes in delivery, changes to the field or misleading comments about their technique, the match context or the consequences of not playing well.
How can a club side who only gets together a couple of times a week build up team spirit?
Spending time talking about more than wickets and runs and points. Teams are about people coming together and getting a job done despite inter-personal differences. We can only really do this if we all communicate well enough to understand and accept each other. Generally when you get to that stage, people care less about themselves and more about playing well for each other which can do amazing things to your results. Leadership plays a huge part in setting the culture too.
How would a coach go about adding pressure to practice situations to make them more realistic?
Game scenarios are critical to build pressure. Jumpers for goalposts (sorry for fielders) in the net can simulate the angles we are looking to score in.
A common phrase in modern cricket is 'gaining momentum' what does that mean to you and is it something a club side can do?
I guess it is belief, but there is no reason why we can't prepare well and hit the early season at full momentum rather than wait to get on a roll.
What sort of mental training goes on during the off season for the players you work with?
All practice sessions should be building confidence in players or at least challenging them to confront weaker areas. If the snow has fallen and the indoor nets are cancelled try writing down all the factors that made your best performance of last year happen. We tend to look at failure in this way but not success. So find as many reasons why you succeeded as possible and then build them into your preparation every time.
Who do you admire for their mental approach, either from cricket or any other circle?
All elite performers who have been at the top for some time deserve credit for their mindset. The physical and mental scars take some coping with and to keep coming back and challenging yourself to get better means that you have more than just the skill. Skill is a given in top sport, the best performers have the attitude to make the skill count.
Find out more about adapting your thinking for high performance by visiting Sporting Edge Solutions and signing up to the member's area. Here you can find interviews with top sport performers like Martin Johnson and Jimmy Adams.
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