This archive article was published in 2008. Republished today with an edit to bring it up to date.
Whether you aspire to play at professional level or not, there are many things you can learn from first class players.
Professional players rely on their form for a living. Without it they would be out of a job. More often than not that means they are doing everything they can to stay on top of their game. You can apply some of this determination to improve your results.
What does this look like?
1. Do something every day
Professional cricket has the luxury of being able to focus on cricket every day. Whether this is playing, training or hitting the gym. You may not have as much time.
But you can still do something every day to improve your game. Visualisation takes less than 20 minutes, a trip to the gym is an hour.
Training is a little longer but with creativity and application you can do the same as the pros in spirit at least.
Ask yourself every week: Am I doing something every day in the coming week to improve my game?
3. Know what works for you
Top players range hugely in personality and habits. Most successful cricketers know what works for them and what doesn't. England's Alec Stewart was famous for eating grilled chicken breasts and having early nights. Other players might prefer a couple of drinks to relax of an evening.
As long as your routine is allowing you to score runs or take wickets there is no sense in changing things.
This also applies to what happens during the game.
According to his autobiography, ex-England captain Nasser Hussain was very nervous waiting to bat, but it allowed him to get his mind ready for the task and he often scored runs at crucial times. His team mate Michael Atherton, also very successful, used to read the paper and take his mind off the game totally to relax.
The point is, find out what works for you and stick with it.
4. Look like a professional
No matter how dishevelled and untidy a professional is off the field, when they train and play they look the part.
They are fortunate to have fresh kit supplied on demand, where you probably have to pay for your own whites and washing bill. That should not stop you looking your best on the pitch. Laundered and ironed whites and clean equipment put you in a professional frame of mind.
If you have ever experienced the difference in feeling between slipping on a fresh shirt and one that has been left unloved in a kitbag for a week you know what I mean.
Take the time to look good on the field and you will feel a little more like a professional cricketer.
5. Cope with failure
Failure is inevitable in cricket. Even Bradman got out for a duck in his last innings. Professionals learn to cope with this quickly.
Good players remind themselves that mistakes happen and don't let it get to them. They know that a mistake does not mean you will lose the game. You or someone else can still perform exceptionally to make up for the error.
Good pros are also quick to help players who have made mistakes.
A few positive words at the right moment can make all the difference to a player who is dwelling on their error. There is certainly no rule that says you can't do the same.
6. Use social support
As part of a team, the professional has access to good social support. Other players know what he or she is going through and can help each other.
Granted, this help might often just come in light hearted relief such as practical jokes or shared ribbing of someone else. However, strong bonds are also formed in the dressing room waiting to bat or for it to stop raining.
On the other hand, you may only see an occasional team mate once a year. You need to make up the difference. That's where online support comes in handy. PitchVision Academy's exclusive course forums exist in part to give support to you. In fact, the slightly more anonymous feeling of online help can get you to open up more than 'in real life'.
But whatever support you go for, make sure you have some way of venting your frustrations and making your goals more public with like-minded souls (it's been proven to improve your chances of reaching them).