Difficulty comes when we try to make the simple complex. The more you really want something, the more stress you create for yourself. Keep it Simple!
A lot of athletes suffer at the hands of this complexity. They get consumed by to much mechanical thought talk and thought. I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep it simple and stay calm during training and when competing. This is what separates the good athletes from the GREAT ones. It’s not that they are way more talented, work harder or have more luck. They are immersed in SIMPLICITY and are masters of their emotions. This gives them the ability to be naturally creative in dealing with the challenges of their sport and competition.
Let’s look at the game of cricket and batting in particular: the goal is SIMPLE: hit the ball into the gaps and score as many runs as you can. The best batsman in the world do not change their game based on the competition type or match. Whether it is a t20, 50 over game or a test match, their swing and shape looks the same. Why? Well, because they are calm and in control and enjoy the enhanced focus that stems from emotional success. This is why they look like they have so much time when they bat. The questions to ask your self are: can I achieve this goal with more/better equipment, more coaching and information and technical advice alone? Or can I achieve this goal best with equal or more emphasis on simplicity and emotional success.
As a player I have also fallen into this trap of uncertainty and I see it with so many other young cricketers striving desperately to succeed and play at the next level. They place far too much energy on hitting countless balls, while consistently tinkering with their technique. All the while, they neglect the fact that their mental and emotional state is their biggest obstacle to performing well. Unfortunatlely too many cricketers surrender their emotional state to their results or statistics and fail to realise that EMOTIONAL MASTERY will consistently provide more enjoyment and better results. This is because your mental and emotional state FREES your body to execute your technical skills with optimal results. Athletes and coaches find it easier and more comfortable to discuss the mechanics of the bat swing and foot work rather that the emotions affecting the skill. Emotional shots breakdown the technique of a batsman rather than the technique breaking down itself.
As soon as the mind of a batsman starts to focus on the past or the importance of the next ball, he/she starts moving away from the SIMPLICITY required to watch the ball closely and select the right shot for that ball. This simplicity quietens the batsman’s mind, enhances their focus and allows them to TRUST their instincts rather than pre- meditate what they think or want to happen.
Next time you are down at the nets practicing your batting try this exercise for simplicity. Before each ball you face, focus on letting go of all the emotion you feel. If you are one of those players that criticizes yourself after a poorly executed shot, let go of the emotion behind the criticism. Releasing these emotions will release energy that is stuck in the body. Batting becomes an exercise in moving and directing energy.
I like this ice cube metaphor as it is something that works really well for me. An ice cube is like your emotions in a frozen state. Your emotions should be fluid like water, but when feelings like fear, nervousness and worry are present it causes those emotions to freeze up and get trapped in your body. Like an ice cube melting away, allow your emotions to melt away. Continue to melt away emotion before each ball you face. You will find that you will have more energy to focus on each ball and you will play with a quiet mind. When you want approval or recognition you need to release these emotions too. You may find that you start batting very well and get over excited. You need to ACCEPT and RELEASE all these emotions. Each shot you will be free of emotions and instinctive. When this happens you will feel lighter and freer and have much less tension in your arms and bat swing.
You are now TRUSTING your training and preparation up to this point. You are enjoying the moment for what it really is.