Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Sunday Cricket Lessons - How to Play Big Cricket

Last Sunday, there was a a theory class by Baig sir. Some 15 young cricketers sat around him as he told them of some theoretical aspects of the game. I sat by him and listened. Suddenly he turned to me and said, why don't you tell them something?

I wasn't prepared so I asked them what they wanted to achieve through cricket. Some vague and philosophical answers were followed by the real stuff - want to play big cricket. I asked them to specify what big cricket was to them - they all wanted to play international cricket. Great, we got the S of the SMART goals.

Then I asked them to put a time limit on it. They looked at a five year horizon. So we broke it down to three and one year horizons. The one year horizon was further broken down into Outcome goals and Performance goals - what do they wish to achieve as cricketers in one year and what performances would they turn in to match that standard. We added emphasis on match winning performances and performances against big sides. Now the T in SMART was taken into account.

Then we looked at what one must do within one year to achieve the Performance and Outcomes (as in getting selected for what level). We needed to prepare to perform at that level. We looked at how one must prepare - skill, physical and mental. We decided that all preparation must be done before the season, under the guidance of experts. All routines must be deconstructed, understood and clarified. The process of self-correction must be begun so one can self-correct on the go. All preparation must be to next level and not to the level aimed at. In skill they were to deconstruct batting, bowling and fielding. In physical they were to work on strength, speed, stamina and flexibility. In mental they were to work on context, process orientation and beliefs.

Then we looked at how one must measure the progress every week, fortnight and monthly - physically and performance wise. Any shortfall must be corrected immediately. Goals must be set for each process and each game and must be achieved with only small deviations. Here the role of mentors and coaches is key and the player must know how to seek out help and know if he is on track. This put the M of SMART in place - a key aspect to know of our progress.

The A of SMART was about converting all the hope and desire into purposeful actions that lead to improvement every day. Actionable items to be followed and executed. That said goals should also be Reasonable and not totally disconnected from reality.

By the end of the talk of course we all had enough work to do. One player did come and ask me about where he should be playing - an easier team or a tough team. I told him that if he had his sights set high, he should aim to play for the toughest teams, the winners. He should prepare to break into those sides and aim at specific spots he would like to play in.

A lot of vagueness was hopefully converted into action. Once some clarity is achieved, its a matter of walking the path. 

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