Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sunday Cricket Lessons 1 - Recalibrating the Mindset

Every Sunday I go to the ML Jaisimha Cricket Academy at Secunderabad to bowl for an hour. Most times I am joined by some friends else I go alone and bowl to the young batsmen there. For me that one hour of bowling off a short run up and trying to learn and relearn old techniques, is an exhilarating and liberating experience. My old coach Mr. Rehmat Baig watches me bowl and smiles and says - you're still doing everything right - and its a wonderful feeling when he says that. Its also quite challenging to fox the youngsters and get them out once in a while. At the end of the hour we have a cup of tea and I chat with Mr. Baig and the boys. But not one Sunday goes without a new learning. I might as well capture them on the blog.
Mr. Rehmat Baig - My coach since 1982 with the first copy of 50 Not Out

This Sunday there were two learnings.

1) Recalibrating the mindset to improve performance
We bowl well on some days and we do not bowl well on some days. On rare days everything seems to be perfect - you can make the ball sing as they say.  It's the same ability, except that the mindset is not right on most days.

So I thought - let me put myself on a scale of 1-100. Today I am calibrated at say 45 (100 being perfection). Can I recalibrate my effort to 50? Can I upgrade bowling like a schoolboy cricketer and perhaps try and bowl like a state bowler, which could be 70. When I consciously recalibrate my mindset, I find that my effort improves that much more instantly. There is more focus and a more purposeful effort. Certainly the outcome improves too.

When I tried this, I got the batsman out the very next ball caught behind. More zip, more purpose.

To reiterate - whatever it is you are doing, calibrate it on a scale of 100. Then crank it up to a level you think you can achieve and once that number is fixed (say I will work at this level like a senior manager or some aspirational thing like that and fix a number to that), the performances should improve.

2) The Outcome Reflects the Preparation
While trying to bowl at a predetermined spot, I realised that my accuracy was not spot on. I tried a few balls and realised I was not as balanced in my run up and action and follow through and the result was that the delivery was inaccurate.

So I went back to my run up. I realised I needed to run in only as fast as I could retain my balance while going into my action. That sorted out a big problem for me - what is the idea speed to run? The balance determines the speed at which I am running in - whether I am able to keep my eyes on the spot or not. Once the speed of the run up was under control I focused on the action and then the follow through. Thus, the outcome guided my preparation or the actions leading into the outcome. Once I get all these right, the outcome is near perfect. I could hit the length I wanted, was closer to the spot and certainly more in control. As I practice this consciously I can increase pace if I need to.

The outcome of a fuller length, I got the batsman bowled.

To reiterate - whatever it is you are doing, keep an eye on the outcome. If it is not exactly the way you want it, there is something wrong and unbalanced in your preparation or the lead up acts to it. If you can sort out those knots and approach the outcome in a balanced manner, chances are the outcome will be what you want exactly.

Talking to Mr. Baig about this, I found that he stressed on the importance of balance in the run up, action and follow through. The body has to be aligned - side on or front on - which makes line, length, swing and cut happen automatically. If they are not happening, your body is not aligned nor in balance. Time to go back to the basics. Time to call in the coach.

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