There is a thing in sport called your happy place. It was made famous in a Hollywood movie by Happy Gilmore. Anyway I didn’t name it my happy place, my place was The Oval cricket nets! This was the single place I practiced more than anywhere in my life and therefore was my ‘cricketing home’. Here I would practice my pressure bowling and visualize bowling at the end of games. Sometimes I would invite the batsman to a challenge – maybe 10 needed off six balls or something like that. I would imagine I was in front of 100,000 fans and would visualize crowd sledging, heavy winds, bad foot holes, any situation that may arise. I would make it uncomfortable for myself. Then when I became familiar with those conditions I would change and add new problems in, like a slippery ball or the like.
The flip side of this and more importantly, was when I was in the game I would visualize myself in The Oval nets – my cricketing home. Immediately I would feel at home!
The final part of this, and the bit which took me a while to master, was the ability to ‘not care’. Of course, I cared but the skill I tried to develop was the ability to take away the fear of responsibility. By that I mean, as bowlers we are scared of letting our team down by going for runs. Once I had convinced myself that I wasn’t letting anybody down if I had done all the practice I could do and gave 100%, a huge pressure was released from me. What I would then do was tell myself that all I can do is make my decision what ball I was going to bowl, be it yorker, bouncer, slower ball, slower yorker etc etc. I would then run up and try to execute as best I could. As soon as the ball had left my hand, I had the mind set of, it ain’t my problem anymore, its fielders’ problem!
You have to commit to that delivery, you need to make up your mind what it is before you turn round to run in and try to block out all external distractions and that negative man that sits on your shoulder and makes you worry about things that are beyond your control. This would include what the batsman is doing and any other external distractions (remember you have practiced blocking these out in the nets.
The main variable is the batsman. It is perfectly reasonable to presume that on any given day you may run up, execute the perfect delivery and the batsman just happens to be able to hit it away, regardless. Again, this is out of your control, so don’t worry about it. There are plenty of times you will run up and bowl nothing like what you are planning and get wickets. It all evens out.
1. Practice being in big situations in your net sessions.
2. Develop an ‘I don’t care mentality’ (I can only try my best).
3. When in the game you have to try to remain calm and take yourself to a place where you feel most comfortable.
4. Decide what ball you will bowl at the top of your run up and commit to it. Run in and bowl with purpose and without fear.
5. Once the ball has left your hand, it is not your responsibility anymore!
6. Don’t sweat the outcome; you need 100% of your mind power to take yourself to your happy place.
7. Don’t distract yourself by worrying if the batsman is going to hit you for runs.
This for me was my Bible to death bowling and I would say I spent at least 50% of my time on the mind side of the practice and the remaining 50% on physical practice. I have heard Steve Waugh say that 90% of the game is in the mind and 10% physical, yet we spend 90% on the physical and 10% on the mind – maybe slightly extreme, but well ahead of his time. Fact is we don’t spend enough time preparing mentally.
(Adam Hollioake is an ex-captain of the England One-Day cricket team. He led Surrey CCC to an unprecedented nine trophies in seven years of captaincy and was named Wisden Cricketer of the year in 2003. You can follow his blogs at www.adamhollioake.com or follow him on twitter atwww.twitter.com/adamhollioake)
Strictly Necessary Cookies
Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.
If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.