A bowler is struggling with consistency – two or three good balls, followed by several wayward deliveries.
He is getting distracted by the bad balls, with the result that he will become increasingly less consistent.
One approach to remedying a loss of concentration is to introduce a simple pre-delivery routine, with the intention of allowing the bowler one small, still moment to focus on one thing, and one thing only – delivering the ball.
Of course, the lack of consistency might be because the bowler’s action breaks down as he gets tired. Or that his mind strays as his body gets more fatigued. Or that he has other things on his mind. Or a combination of physical and psychological factors, far too complex for a simple cricket coach to unravel…
Applying the old ECB “coaching bugs” helps – “Observe”, “Analyse” and “Generate & Provide Feedback” – remembering that here the model might be the bowler’s own (repeatable) action and not necessarily the text-book, classical bowling action. We are trying to help the bowler to be the best he can be, here, rather than changing an action radically.
But once the analysis and feedback are complete, we might still need to provide a practical psychological intervention. Hence, the pre-delivery routine and that small, still moment.
Delivering the small, still moment, six times an over
A pre-delivery routine needs to be simple, because it must not distract from the act of bowling, nor delay the game; routine so it becomes an integral part of the delivery, not something that has to be thought about (too much).
- before the first ball of an over, and after each delivery, move briskly to the bowler’s mark;
- STOP (face away for the batsman, if it helps), take a deep breath, and decide what ball you want to bowl next (visualise the delivery, if it helps);
- breathe normally;
- get on with it.
“Briskly” because we want the bowler to adopt a positive and workmanlike approach (and because I can’t stand bowlers who dawdle…).
The “STOP” is for 2-3 seconds, no more, but serves to consciously focus the mind on the next delivery. Think only about the next ball, not the one that has just been hit to the boundary – do this (if you must) on the walk back to your mark…although the time is probably better spent planning the next series of deliveries, and not worrying about what has gone before.
“breathe normally” and “get on with it” are included as triggers to bring the player back to the game – once the bowler starts his run up, his only thought should be to deliver the ball.
There must be many variations on this routine – the only non-negotiable has to be the “small, still moment” when the bowler decides what is going to happen next.