What Do You Expect?
We all have expectations when it comes to our performances within cricket. Standards that we strive to meet, levels of performance that we just have to achieve to feel like we have succeeded and often many young cricketers feel they have to be successful to please other people around them.
Having these expectations isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as they aren’t ALWAYS too high or too strict. It is common for many people to always expect excellence if not perfection and often this can lead to many different words or phrases that each represents a downward spiral in a cricketer`s enjoyment of the game.
After all don’t ever lose sight of the fact that sport, cricket, is to be enjoyed!
High and strict expectations can often lead a player to some of these dark places;
Loss of confidence; it won`t be long before confidence hits rock bottom when such high expectations cannot be serviced. Even though individual form may still be good, not reaching an extremely high score or taking a number of wickets can often make a player feel like they`re not performing well.
Judgemental thinking; Players can be consumed by what they believe others might be thinking of them, “Wow this guy failed today yet he is supposed to be a star”, either from within your own team or indeed the opposition. It is very easy for a young player to feel like he has to impress everyone EVERYTIME he participates.
Self Doubt & Frustration; I have encountered many players over the years that struggle to accept that even though they have worked hard at practicing their technical skills, tactics and fitness, their contribution come game day is NEVER enough!
Often no matter how hard people work at their game, they never seem to find peace in their performance, unless they reach the absolute peak of their (usually unrealistic) expectations.
Looking back I`m sure I was one of those players at different times throughout my playing career and certainly as a coach I have tried to help many players in similar situations. Maybe the best place to start to help players is to answer the question WHY?
Why are your expectations set so high?
From my personal experience the answer is usually due to one of the following;
- A player trying to impress those around him, to feel accepted by either current team mates or opposition players. Very often this could even be the parents of a young player who he believes he must do well to please..
- Being the best player in the team and have the weight of the team on his shoulders. If I do well the team wins, if not we don`t.
- A player`s desire to play higher level cricket. If I can make runs or take wickets today then it might get noticed at rep level. I can remember a time when I felt like every time I went out to bat someone from a county might notice my score and offer me a trial.
- Executing your skills in either a competition or league which you perceive to be below your ability. Regardless of the opposition, you HAVE to make runs or take wickets because you’re much better than the others in the league.
- Finally on a smaller scale – believing because the pitch turns as a spinner, is green as a seamer or flat as a batsman you must win the game with your contribution.
Try stepping away from such high expectations. Set yourself some more realistic goals for your performances and focus on achieving them. Have a read of this article from last year to help you set some objective targets.
Such constant and high expectations can only result in the pressure to perform eventually becoming unbearable, even for the most experienced of players. Try to remember to enjoy the game and the friendships and experiences that cricket will surely bring you. Failing sometimes is part of cricket. As much as we would like to, we can`t make a 100 every time we bat, or take 5 wickets or more every time we bowl. If it was that easy we would all playing on the TV.
Cut yourself some slack don’t choke under the weight of expectation as can sometimes happen. Many have wanted to walk away from the game or have stopped playing for no other reason than they can`t feel satisfied with their performance for whatever reason.
Be very clear, expect failure to be very much part of every successful cricketers story.