Back in October I attended a fascinating event, hosted by LagomMind in partnership with OpeningUp Cricket, looking at Mental Health in Cricket.
The panel featured Fabian Cowdrey, Dr. Jamie Barker from the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, and Mark Boyns from OpeningUp.
It was a thought-provoking evening, so much so that it has taken me a while to process everything (and to catch up on some follow-up reading).
My headline learnings on the evening time included:
- the dangers inherent in the modern belief that the only route to success is via obsession — “the harder I practice, the ‘luckier’ I get”…but finding a balance between obsessive practice and “civilian” life might seem the healthier option;
- the impact of irrational beliefs on mental well-being — Jamie told the story of a cricketer who fervently believed that he should score 100s whenever he batted, and became extremely upset when dismissed in the 90s;
- ultimately, the need to trust yourself, and find what works for you.
Fabian shared personal insights from his own experience of professional cricket.
Honest and brave. And, happily, finding a way forward.
On the subject of managing beliefs, Jamie pointed me to a book he co-authored, Tipping the Balance — a really interesting read, with lots of very practical advice on ways to tip the (psychological) balance in favour of enhanced performance.
I was particularly taken with the line “…tipping the balance is about enhancing your self-confidence and control, and ensuring you are always focused on what can be achieved instead of what could be lost.”
The book is about developing and enhancing these “resources” (self-confidence, self-control, focus on what can be achieved) to allow the athlete to move from a ‘threat’ state (where demands are greater than resources; “not sure I can cope with this”) towards the ‘challenge’ state (“this is difficult, but I can face it”).
Now, this rings true in so many different contexts, not only sporting.
I only very rarely work with players in the “development” or “performance” space, but I can see ways of drip-feeding the underlying philosophy of the book into my regular work, especially with younger players.