When you go to nets you work on bringing up your weaknesses. But what if your time is better spent on your strengths?
This is what modern cricketers and coaches call "super strengths".
We already know how important it is to know your game. It makes logical sense to spend the most training time on trying to perfect your strengths rather than toil over a weak area that you will never make more than average.
The tricky part is to assess and explore your game and work out what is a strength, what is a weakness and what is an are that you might be able to improve.
Look at your weaknesses
Want an example?
I am currently working with an experienced club batsman. He has a superb eye. He is excellent driving and flicking the ball, especially on the front foot. He is comfortable playing the ball into gaps and has a rare confidence in his game. He knows how to accelerate his scoring.
Sounds like a strong player, right?
Except he cannot play a pull shot.
Whenever he gets a long hop he either misses it totally, gets a touch on it to guide it down to fine leg, or gives up totally and back foot drives when it doesn't bounce.
At a recent session we decided to explore this weakness.
I fed him around 200 short balls and he tried a few different techniques: Lara pulls, Ponting pulls, backloading and even a flat out front foot pull.
Nothing was sticking.
He couldn't find something that was both consistent and comfortable. So, after an hour we abandoned the experiment.
What had we learned?
In his words, "I know if I work at it I could make something that's OK but I don't need the shot. When I'm batting well I can score quickly and comfortably without it."
He decided to leave that weakness behind and ignore it.
Yes. Ignore it.
Working on strengths
Instead he is going to work on increasing his ability to score in the way he knows well. My job as coach is to "stress test" his ability under tougher circumstances: better bowling, more trying conditions and higher pressure. His job is to strive for perfection in his own game.
One without a pull shot.
And that's OK.
If we find areas where his method falls down, we can work together to find a solution Based on his existing strengths. If we can't find anything, he will walk out to bat in games knowing that for every possible situation he has a reply.
That's a super strength.
A word of warning though.
A super strength is not the same as going through the motions. The difference is mindfulness.
If you are aware you are working towards a technical or tactical goal, and reviewing how you did you are being mindful. If you set up the bowling machine to bowl you off stump half volleys you can smash for no reason (other than to feel good) you are going through the motions. If you turn up to nets to "hit some balls" you are going through the motions. It's a fine line, and it's an important line.
- It's better to turn strengths into world-class than to turn weaknesses into average.
- Assess if you can improve a weakness before discarding it.
- Decide how you can turbo-boost a strength, then work at it mindfully.