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Coaching Corner: Helpful or Harmful?

By David Hinchliffe

The coach thinks about thinking.

““recognise when a reaction becomes a hurtful action.””

We don't always react to events on the field that are best for us, even though we know better.

You are batting, play a loose shot, and get dropped. In your fury at yourself you lose focus and hit another ball in the air, getting caught in the covers. You walk off wondering what you were doing. You end up shouting at yourself in the safety of the rooms, or walking away from the rest of the team, unable to bear the disaster.

You're not alone, we have all been there.

We all feel the strain, we all react to it: Batsmen, bowlers and fielders.

But when you think about these reactions after the event you realise they were certainly not helpful.

Perhaps they were even harmful.

If you go back to your dismissal, you may have got out to that shot because you had lost focus and got away from your game plan. That reaction in the moment was harmful to both your own success and the team's chances.

As you get into the changing room, your shouting does little to release the anger. When you go off and sulk for a bit, it shows a harmful lack of support for your team mates who are still out batting for you.

It's not just batting either: Arguing with bad decision by an umpire, getting annoyed at dropping a catch (or having a sitter dropped off your own bowling), even turning up late.

None of these things are helpful.

Some of them are hurting team spirit or even directly hurting West's chance of winning.

So, why react that way?

In the moment, we all have our reasons: Anger, regret, stress. you wouldn't be human if you were not annoyed at getting out or dropping a catch.

But you are also human enough to recognise when a reaction becomes a hurtful action. You wouldn't walk off the field in the huff if you dropped a catch. You know the negative effect it has on the team to lose a fielder. You wouldn't get out and immediately go home in the middle of a game.

Throwing your bat or shouting passive-aggressively about bad umpiring is certainly no more helpful - and almost as harmful - as these extremes.

"Hang on coach," I can hear you saying "I can't just turn off the passion. I want to win. This fire makes me play hard!"

And you are right.

You can't turn off emotions.

When used right, they give you great power. They inspire a winning bowling spell. They pull a team together through great adversity.

But success through emotion only works when you use it to drive helpful behaviour. As soon as your fury, fear or self-loathing is directed against the benefit of the team, it is misdirected.

So, if what you do is unhelpful, do something else instead.

How to train your reactions

Improving your skills in this area starts with awareness.

When you feel the blood boiling, your state of mind is not open to rational self-assessment. But that's exactly the right time to take a beat, notice what is happening and turn your rational thinking back on. Ask yourself, "is this helpful to the team winning?".

Your rational mind will, hopefully, wake up enough to tell you to change your behaviour.

For example, instead of moping on the bank, sit with the team and support the batsmen in the middle. It might hurt, but if it is for the greater good, isnt it worth it? Naturally, your support is not as helpful as actually batting, but it's certainly less harmful than an empty balcony.

And that's the only choice you have in the moment.

Games are littered with both emotional moments and opportunity to helpful or hurtful. So recognise this, be aware of them and react to them as helpfully as possible. It makes a difference to the result.

Updated 13:41 - 7 Oct 2018 by David Hinchliffe

Where next?

Partick's Highlights from 2018 It's a long off season. Watch this to get through it.
Women's Cricket Training at West of Scotland All welcome to Wednesday night indoor sessions.

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