5 Tips if you fall into the TRYING TOO HARD TRAP when bowling

Cricket Psychology Tips: 5 Tips if you fall into the TRYING TOO HARD TRAP when bowling

You must always give 100%!!

From a young age we’re always told that we must try hard.  We’re given so many messages from coaches, parents, teachers, motivational speakers and so-called experts on social media – it’s all about the effort you put in.  “All I want you to do is MAKE SURE you do your best.”  “YOU MUST give it 100%.”  

Have you heard this or even said it yourself?

I purposefully capitalised MAKE SURE AND YOU MUST because if you think about it, these words can create pressure.  They certainly don’t empower someone to perform and act with freedom.  So what is a more helpful thing to say to a bowler on this topic? 

I’d ask them the question “When you go out to bowl what do you do at your best?”  You may get answers like, “I’m aggressive.” “ I pick my target where I want to land the ball and commit to that line and length.” “My body language is intimidating.” “I just bowl.”

Trying hard, trying really hard, seeking perfection in your bowling action, looking for flaws in your technique after you’ve bowled a couple of bad deliveries and approaching your bowling with strict, high and unrealistic expectations of yourself rarely equals wickets or great deliveries to test the batsman. 

In fact, the opposite occurs, by getting caught up in these things that are out of your control and false motivators generally causes cricketers to try too hard and get frustrated.  They may go on to kick the ground, swear and curse, or behave like young children do when they have a tantrum.

What also happens…

By trying too hard it means that your muscles tighten, it interferes with your rhythm and timing and your decision making. 

Trying too hard causes you to force deliveries instead of trusting your body to do what it needs to do and what you have trained it to do.

It happens to some of the best bowlers too.

Back in 2017, during a disappointing Ashes campaign Down Under, England captain Joe Root once talked about how his bowlers potentially tried too hard when he was quoted.   

“It’s bitterly disappointing,” he said. “(But) they tried absolutely everything. It wasn’t for the lack of effort.  “We went through every plan – different fields, bowling straight, hanging it wide, every now and again a bit of bumper warfare. It felt like we didn’t leave anything to chance.”

Can you succeed without trying too hard?

Yes, I say!! The way that you will bowl at your best more consistently is when you look to perform within your capabilities, irrespective of how your bowling spells have gone so far or what is happening in your match.

5 Tips if you fall into the “Trying too hard trap”!!

  1. When you practice ensure that you spend a portion of time “focusing on the process”.  What I mean is practicing as you would in a match situation with a “matchday mindset” not a “practice mindset.”  
  2. Look to “perform within yourself”.   Understand what it is like to bowl at 90% and 95% when your tempo is smooth, relaxed and controlled. 
  3. Accept that you can switch on and off between deliveries and overs, and still bowl well.  You won’t automatically forget what to do when you get ready to bowl your next delivery!  Have some fun – laughing and chatting is permitted if you allow yourself.  You can then go in and give your next delivery your full attention and focus as many top professional cricketers do.  
  4. Use visualisation and see yourself bowling in a relaxed and effortless way, like Jofra Archer.  Rehearse in your mind difficult deliveries for the batter, see the batsman struggling and your positive body language and inner dialogue when you’re getting ready to bowl.  Many cricketers when they describe the zone “they say it feels easy and not forced.”
  5. Consider what you did in some great past performances, think about your thoughts, timing, temperature and tension levels (The 4T’s).

You may also find our selection of Cricketing Blogs hugely helpful in getting the enjoyment back in your bowling and/or transferring your best bowling from the nets to matches.

Also why not tune into a recent podcast that I recorded with talented youth cricket coach and mental game enthusiast, Tom Jones.

I hope you’ve found this blog helpful. If you have feel free to share this article to friends or coaches or sign up to the Mental Edge for regular tips and advice.

Or if you found this article helpful, please share it with your friends, team-mates, parents or coaches.  You can also join our online community – THE SPORTS PSYCHOLOGY HUB – for regular Sports Psychology tips, podcasts, motivation and support.

Best Wishes 

David Charlton

Online Cricket Psychologist who supports Bowlers and Batsmen around the world from Barbados to London, Dubai to Durban, Perth to Wellington, using ONLINE Video Conferencing.    

Managing Director – Inspiring Sporting Excellence, Host of Demystifying Mental Toughness Podcast and Founder of The Sports Psychology Hub.  With over a decades’ experience supporting athletes, coaches, parents and teams to achieve their goals, faster. 

T: +44 7734 697769

E: [email protected]

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