Mental strength and Cricket – The symbiosis
- Mental strength is paramount in a team sport like Cricket.
- At the top level, mental strength contributes to around 80% of a player's performance.
The COVID-19 lockdown is worldwide. It has either paused or stalled everything we are used to do in our day to daily lives. All sports are off schedule, with no real action possible for some time. Now is when mental strength, along with physical fitness, would be put to the test.
It is impossible to run on the road or practice at public parks with your teammates. In these unprecedented times, cricketers can improve their fitness, as well as work on the mental aspects of their games. Players must strive to improve their fitness, with the real challenge to do so being the limited resources available at home, says Jatin Patel, a renowned cricket coach.
Coach Patel expressed his view on how fitness, strength, and conditioning can be improved through a multitude of exercise routines involving, but not limited to, resistance band, cardio, deadlifts, etc.
There will be a time when the Coronavirus pandemic will be over, and sports activities will resume. With this in mind, a player must prepare to be ready once the action begins. Now is the time one can sit down and think about one's game, decide what one wants to do next, and how one can improve further for one's betterment. As is often said, 'the biggest room in this world is the room for improvement'.
Mindset matters the most, and mental preparation is a huge factor in today's sport. A lot of cricketers fail to reach their potential because of a lack of mental strength. This is a time when work can be done on this aspect of the game by reading books, listening, or watching other sportspeople talk about their experiences. Trying to relate to things happening to athletes from across the world, and finding out what suits one the best are also keys in this respect. Virtual/online-based training, mentoring or coaching are huge beneficiaries during these extraordinary times.
"The bottom line here is that there is a lot that can be done as a cricketer"- coach Patel.
Fitness matters most in sports, and a crucial part of sport fitness is mental toughness. Like most sports, cricket is played more in the minds than on the field. It constitutes around 80% of the performance stack as compared to about 20% of a player's skill and talent. Mental skills that cricket demands, are claimed to be higher than that of most other sports. Innovative, on-the-fly problem-solving is an asset in cricket which only the greats possess. It involves combating stress with the right attitude.
"The body achieves what the mind believes". Metrics like self-esteem, stress levels, mood swings, etc. are some essential factors that impact better decision making. With the "mind over body" ideology, one can maintain higher levels of concentration and stay focused. This helps in combating the many distractions that drag you into depression, fear of failure, and performance anxiety.
At the end of the day, what is the use of the muscles, the power, and the dollars if one is not happy within oneself? A stable mindset and a well-balanced mental strength will help athletes perform well, and stay ahead of the competition.
During a recent discussion about mindset and mental strength with coach Jatin Patel, who is also a pioneer in coaching education in the USA, CEO of International Cricket Network – ICN360, Yash Khandor interestingly said – "If you don't come out of this quarantine a better/improved version of yourself; you never lacked time. You lacked DISCIPLINE."Published 13 Apr 2020, 19:07 IST