Friday, 7 August 2015

England cricket: The power of a positive approach

Yesterday many of us witnessed the most extraordinary day of cricket with England completely destroying the Australian batting line up for just 60 runs. A couple of months ago, very few (if any) would have predicted that England would have even given Australia a decent battle, let alone tear them apart in the way that they have. 

So what has changed? Apart from a small change in personnel, it seems that it is the mental approach of the team that has had the most significant impact on the team.  England have stopped playing safe and are now taking a positive, attacking approach to their game. From what I have seen this optimistic approach has benefitted the team in a number of ways. Here are a few of them.

Firstly, taking a positive approach to your game makes you focus more on what you would like to happen rather than on what you fear might happen. If you play not to get out you end up focusing on getting out. This means you end up mentally rehearsing the thing you don’t want to happen again and again and you actually prime your brain to make mistakes.  By focusing on what you do want to happen you are preparing your mind to play the shots that you want to play and bowling the balls that you want to bowl.

Secondly, the fact that new England coach Trevor Bayliss (an Australian) has stressed the importance of the players playing to their own style of play has allowed them to play to their own preferred tempo. Rather than try and hang on as long as possible, the likes of Root, Moeen, Stokes, Buttler and Broad, who all like to swing their bat are working to the principle that they’d rather make a quick 50 than a slow 30 and it is paying off.

Finally, a positive approach breeds confidence, which can have a significant effect on a player. A confident player has more energy, thinks more clearly, makes decisions more quickly, plays more unconsciously and lets go of mistakes more easily.

It's looking extremely good from an England perspective. The question is, can Australia tap into their own confidence and create a miraculous turnaround? That would have to be some turnaround! 

Andy Barton
Performance coach