What the IPL can teach you about dealing with pressure in cricket | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

What the IPL can teach you about dealing with pressure in cricket

Imagine for a moment you have signed for the Deccan Chargers. It's your first game and the stadium is packed to the rafters.

On TV millions more watch on hoping you will put in a match winning performance for their beloved team. Meanwhile the world's finest Twenty20 players warm up in preparation to take you on.

Succeed and you will be adored. Fail and you will be nobody.

It's that kind of pressure that can ruin your game.

But you don't have to be an IPL player to feel pressure. You be stressed in school or club cricket. You can feel under stress as a coach as well as a player.

Pressure can happen at any level.

How does this happen when cricket is supposed to be fun?

The only 3 reasons you are stressed

When you consider a game or moment in a game to be important, the pressure goes up. When you think your skills are not enough to deal with the situation, you get stressed.

We naturally tend to blame the situation such as the crowd or sledging by the opposition, but it's our response to the situation is just as important. In other words, there are three reasons you get stressed:

  1. The environment is stressful (big game, lots at stake, rep level scouts watching)
  2. Your negative reaction or perception to the situation (you are hit a skier and think "what if I drop it?")
  3. Your physical and mental response which psychologists call arousal (sweating, heart rate, worry, confusion, nail biting)

The difference between players who deal with pressure and those who crack is the former know how to manage the three causes of stress.

And that's nothing to do with how good a player you are. That's why you often see lesser talented players doing well in the IPL: they have 'mental strength'

(Which is shorthand for saying they know how to deal with pressure)

How to manage pressure

So now we know stress can only come from 3 places, it's just a matter of learning how to deal with that pressure when it happens to you.

But there is no one-size-fits-all.
You need to know where the problem lies.

For some players, getting clammy hands (arousal) leads to remembering the last time they felt stressed and failed (negative reaction) which stresses them out.

For others it's the negative thought that comes first and the physical reaction that follows.

The good news is that wherever the flow of pressure and stress is coming from there is a way of dealing with it.

  • Reducing stress in the environment: This is difficult as a big game is a big game. However you can do certain things to reduce the pressure. Be technically as good as you can be. Make sure you have a routine that you trust, be clear about your role on the day, and focus on enjoying playing for the sake of playing rather than the rewards on offer.
  • Reducing arousal: If you find your stress comes from your response to the environment such as increased heart rate, inability to concentrate, faster breathing or pacing you are having an arousal response. The most common way to deal with this is imagery, but you can use any technique that works for you. The Alexander Technique is another example.
  • Reducing negative reaction: If you spot negative thoughts popping into your head before any physical reaction you are having a perception response. There are a number of ways you can push these thoughts aside, but a popular method is the stop technique.

An environment like the IPL might seem to be a huge cause of pressure, but the real secret to playing well in that situation is how you respond.

If you can manage that response you will be able to play in any level of cricket from an IPL match at Eden Gardens to a game on the Maidan.

If you want more cricket thinking tips and lessons from the IPL don't forget to get the free PitchVision Academy coaching newsletter.


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