Whatever level of cricket you play, you will recognise the pressure faced by cricketers playing in the current Ranji Trophy.
The tournament is typified by many games wedged into a short period, but as a player you are expected to be at your peak the whole time.
PV Coach Aaksash Chopra often talks about his stressful experiences
No wonder elements like gym work and healthy eating get cast aside when you are hit by the firehose of playing, travelling and nets without rest.
There is no way preparation can be perfect, so you do what you can when you can.
And it's just the same at club and school level: Players have jobs or classes, other sports to play, girlfriends and many outside interests.
If you or your players are in this position, here are some ways to make the most of the time that you have.
- Make a menu. Eating well is vital to both performance and health, yet when we are busy we will eat what is available, not what is healthy. To get around this problem, sit down once a week and plan out your meals. Then you can make healthy food when you have time and eat it when you don't.
- Do what you hate first. Most cricketers love nets and consider fitness work a nesseccary evil. So rather than fight it, get up early and get a short 30 minute fitness session in early. Ideally in a gym, but you can use bodyweight in your bedroom too.
- Make time for silence. We live in a noisy world with a lot of distractions like TV and the internet. When you are tired you default to these distractions. But when you are under stress you also need time to reflect quietly. So turn off the TV for 15 minutes and refelct on your day. You don't need to keep a journal, just have some time for yourself.
- Improve your sleep quality. Sleep is fundamental to life, yet we often abuse it. We can't always get 8 hours, or get to bed before midnight (although both of these help if you can), but we can spend the last hour of the day without a computer or TV screen blasting light into our eyes. You can relax with a book and you will find your sleep quality improving.
- Do what you know. Stressful times are not times to experiment. Stick to what you know works. In your technique that means accepting you have flaws but also you know a method that works for you. In fitness it means doing exercises that you know are effective for you individually.
- Use fielding drills to stay athletic. By customising fielding drills and net sessions you can get a lot of your movement skills and conditioning done. Saves you running on the treadmill for hours.
- Become accountable. We all act better when we are held accountable to someone else. This could mean a training partner, batting buddy or a training log. It helps you stick to a plan when you know someone else is relying on you to turn up.
If you follow these practical tips you will find you are making the best of a difficult situation.
One final extra tip for those who are still struggling with stressful moments is to learn how to 'anchor'.
Anchoring isn't for everyone. Some people will consider it sport psychology nonsense, but others swear by the method that has success across a range of sports. Click here to find out how to anchor.
And speaking of the mental side of the game, I also recommend the advice of Aakash Chopra. He has created an online coaching course on PitchVision Academy called Ranji to IPL that deals with these kinds of issue for budding players who want to learn from a former International batsman who has had great success at domestic level.