Three Ways To See Inside The Mindset Of Cricketers

Graham Winter, Performance Psychologist

Three Invaluable Questions

Here are three questions I’ve found invaluable when watching and coaching Olympic athletes and First Class cricketers.

  • Do They Own Their Space?
  • Do They Hold Their Shape?
  • Do They Self Correct?

Space, Shape and Self Correcting

As I wrote this article, David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne compiled a partnership of over 350 runs against what seemed a disorganised Pakistani bowling attack (with the exception of Shaheen Shah Afridi).

The Australian’s ‘owned their space’ and ‘held their shape’, while the Pakistani bowlers and fielders became increasingly ragged and were unable to self correct.

Let’s look at these three ‘tests’ of Game Mindset.

Test 1. Own Your Space

Warner and Labuschagne definitely owned their space. Both had consistent and repeatable routines and rituals. They projected confidence in their body language, and were never rushed or unsettled in the pace and rhythm of their movements.

By contrast the Pakistani bowlers never settled on a line, length and game plan. Their body language looked like they didn’t expect a wicket (apart from Shaheen Shah Afridi who did own a consistent line and pace).

Think about your own game - or even your day-to-day life. Do you control the environment around you, and have simple consistent routines or are you more erratic, tentative or reactive?

“Own your space” is great advice and one of the keys to setting up for consistent high performance - instead of reactivity and distraction.

Test 2. Hold Your Shape

Warner’s control of shape throughout an innings of over 300 was outstanding. He controlled his game, seemingly never losing the shape of his shots, which was in stark contrast to the Pakistani bowlers who over-strided regularly and dragged balls short or wide. Their fielding was even worse, with ragged ground fielding showing a mindset lacking a ‘Go-to-Plan’.

Think about your own game, particularly when you are under pressure or putting in extra exertion. Do you stay balanced or do you lose the shape of your shots or action and get ragged?

“Hold your shape” is the hallmark of a strong Game Mindset , and it is really important in short form matches where faster bat speeds and pressure on bowlers and fielders to contain runs really tests the ability to maintain composure and focus.

Test 3. Self Correct

Everyone loses their shape at times, and goes away from basic set up and plans. It happens in cricket matches, in work and in relationships when emotions take control.

The key to performance is to self correct fast, which means being aware of what you are doing and then coming back to YOUR SPACE and YOUR SHAPE immediately. That requires awareness and a clear mind.

The ability of the Australian Team to self correct has improved enormously over the past year and credit must go to Justin Langer who set a great example as a player, and has certainly built this mindset into the batting, bowling and fielding.

The introduction of Labuschagne to the Team has arguably been the high point. As a young player his ability to own his space, hold his shape and self correct has been exceptional.

For Pakistan their attack is young, so hopefully they have good support to help the players learn from this experience.

Own Your Space - Hold Your Shape

If there is one piece of advice to start with in developing your mindset it is to learn to own your space and hold your shape.

Make this your intent and it will give you something practical to work on and improve every practice session and every game.

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