As Stephen Cook worked the ball off his legs into a vacant midwicket region to bring up his maiden test century on debut against England, one could not help but applaud this feat from a 33 year old who had been knocking on the door through volumes of runs of a period of time in the domestic game. Not long afterwards, Quinton De Kock batted masterfully to bring up his maiden hundred, be it in slightly different fashion. A player whose confident stroke play and ball striking ability was only tested for a short time at the level below before being thrown into the international game.
[[upme_private] Although hailing from the same school, the road that both these players have travelled in their careers have been very different, much like their personalities and characteristics and is that not the beauty of sport and cricket in particular. When making a technical adjustment to your game, how long do you practice it for before you can see it in performance. For some it can be immediate, a magical piece of advice or slight tweak can heed results instantaneously and spark a transformation for a period of time. In other cases, it may take months if not years to fully grasp the concept, put it into practice and master it in the matches. This period can be enlightening but can also be frustrating.
There are many examples from different sporting codes and research done about the time it takes to fully acquire a new skill or break a bad habit. Here are a few key questions to ask yourself when making a change:
What am I trying to accomplish?
An intention and setting the aim which defines what the outcome needs to be clearly is very important. Without this compelling vision, any behaviour is done without purpose and clarity.
Example: Direct hit run out from the inner ring
How will we know that the change is an improvement?
Establishing measures that will determine whether a specific change leads to an improvement is important as it will provide direction on whether you are heading in the correct direction.
Example: Throw in practice and or matches and count the hits and the misses, perhaps from different angles and collect some data. Once we know a base level, one can then continue to test against this norm over a period of time.
What is the best change to make an improvement?
Some interventions are more effective than others for specific results. Make sure your energy is going to be constructive for success.
Example: usually there is a core problem which if diagnosed will unlock the rest of the movement or action. Aiming with your front arm or aligning your feet to the target may the key to accuracy when throwing to direct hit the stumps.
This is a continual process to keep working on and by completing the Plan, Do, Reflect, Act cycle will allow your learnings to build upon each other to affect the quickest and most effective change.
Lastly, remember to keep testing your skill under pressure. As the navy seals say “You don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to your training”. Keep putting yourself under pressure in practices in order to unlock the performance in the games. This is where it really counts![/upme_private]]