Most athletes arrive at a coaching session enthusiastic and ready to have a good, strong, focused and intense training session.
Sometimes it doesn't work out like that.
Nets are double booked, our training partners are running late or can't get there at all. Maybe the coach is sick. So many little things can and do go wrong all the time.
Rather than a challenge, this is a great opportunity: You can use it to become stronger mentally.
When training plans are going pear shaped or conditions are less than perfect, take the opportunity to identify this as a time to train your mind to go through hardship. Accept the challenge. Realise that conditions are not perfect.
Understand that this makes training more like a game situation and train accordingly.
You have a choice.
Don't be one of the many who fail to perform at their best because "conditions just weren't right for them on the day." It's the mentally strong player who manages to perform on these days. Let's face it: conditions are never really perfect for anyone. Look at the experiences of the Olympic athletes having to deal with smog and heat at the Beijing games.
In times like this, you need to focus harder, play conservatively, tighten up your technique and keep trying. It's all about attitude. So what specifically should you be doing to perform when conditions are tough? Here are some ideas that apply to both practices and games.
- Watch the ball harder. Look for the seam. This is the key to success in just about any situation.
- Work at getting a good strong movement to the ball either back or forward. This allows you to play later and therefore watch the ball longer.
- Play with soft hands. This will often get you out of trouble.
- Keep telling yourself to be patient. Realise the situation is tough and settle in to occupy the crease rather than dominate the bowling.
- Specifically in games, keep looking for opportunities to break free. Bowlers get tired and fielders go to sleep. Chances are always arising.
- In tough situations, your ability to control your stock delivery is terribly important! By definition it should be the ball you can bowl with most confidence and as such, you should do so as often as 20 or more times in a 4 over set.
- Be patient and realise that your natural variations in line and length will always challenge the batsman. You are always in with a chance of getting a wicket!
- Bowl every ball through the batsman to you keeper. If the wicket is not helpful, this will at least make the batsman hurry and give you every opportunity to nip them out.
- Bowl to your field. If you bowl with control, this will limit the batsman’s scoring opportunities and encourage him to take risks.
In general terms always appear to be positive, confident and interested in contesting the result – of every contest. This is where training to use positive body language, positive talk and positive thinking comes in handy. An individual who is doing this is a force to be reckoned with.
Imagine what a team doing this would be like to play against.
Always train as you intend to play. Conditions are never perfect so accept this as a given and train accordingly. The benefits will flow.
Most people would be happy to finish their careers and have people say of them:
"He was always good when the going got tough!"
You can be that player.