We all know cricket can be a tough sport on the body, however, what is often just as demanding is the ability to stay mentally fresh through an entire summer. In my first 3 seasons playing senior cricket, I averaged 40+ before Christmas, and <20 for the remainder of the season. So how did I change this ugly yet all too common trend? Here’s my blueprint.
YOU HAVE TO LOVE IT
Before I get into the physical tips and tricks, I want to leave a saying with you that I continuously come back to. You guessed it, the quote goes “You have to love it”. I was told this while batting in the middle of a green seamer in Bundaberg, Queensland as a 14-year-old getting sprayed by 40+ year old men - to say I was rattled would be an understatement! However it is these kinds of challenges that continuously pop up in the sport we love, and without that love for the game, it can be very challenging to keep on enjoying it.
Like any sport, effort doesn’t always equal reward and at the end of the day, the ability to find other enjoyments within the game, such as getting around your teammate's success, can be the difference between unconditional love and a dying passion. Once you find this unconditional love, the ability to stay motivated throughout an entire season becomes a routine.
ROUTINES ARE KEY!
1% better each day, the art of continuous improvement… You may be wondering, why would we ONLY get 1% better each day when we can set larger goals and go hell for leather at them? Because this is what often leads to burnout, frustration, and a sense of failure. Think about it like this, the cricket season is a marathon, not a sprint. Actually, the marathon keeps going until the end of your career! One of the greatest things I could have ever entered into my life is the notion of routines. Routines are defined as a sequence of actions regularly followed and are the key drivers of the 1% better each day theory.
Now I’m not saying you have to wake up and go for a run every morning at 4am... Routines can be as small, or large as you like. It is important that you keep your routines realistic; once again, you’re not trying to build Rome in the time it takes to put together an Ikea couch… you’re in it for the long haul!
My 3 tips for effectively incorporating solid routines into your life are:
- Write them down!
- Set goals. e.g 6 days out of 7 in a week
- Start by adding on to routines you already have. e.g after I brush my teeth I will read for 15 minutes…
DON'T BE SCARED TO TAKE A BREAK
This might sound counterintuitive to my above point, however, the ability to take a break from your daily/weekly grind will only enhance your ability to meet your routine goals. Every single person is different, and it is not for me to tell you just how much you can handle before you need a break. What I can tell you, is that at some point we all need to slow down and enjoy some well-earned time off. One thing that I personally struggle with is the feeling of guilt when I am not going flat out in life. This can become a vicious cycle where I then fail to take the time I need and end up sick or unmotivated for a longer period of time than I would have had in the first place.
As you get older, understanding your own body and mental capabilities will become more clear allowing you to make these decisions on when you take a break much more effectively. My biggest advice would be to just listen to your body, it has ways of telling us when it isn’t feeling its best, and if we don’t listen we will end up breaking down. Another point is that you must communicate these feelings with the people that it matters to, this will help them understand you better and make life a hell of a lot easier into the future.
I hope you enjoyed this blog and got some useful information out of it. I encourage you all to look further into the theories I have put forward today and work out just what is best for you personally. Share this blog around and don’t be afraid to message in with any questions you might have.
Article Author: Josh Matthews
National Programs Manager
Australian Cricket Institute