Sports psychology in cricket – How do Mithali Raj & Sarah Taylor develop mental toughness?

One part which can never be overlooked in an athlete’s life is their physical and mental health which is required to obtain optimum results. For any athlete, it is important to stay physically and mentally fit to keep themselves in a good state of mind so that they can achieve desirable results. So, one of the many aspects which influence the performance on the field is the mindset/ psychology of the athlete, which must be in the right direction. 

What’s sports psychology? Why is it important?

Psychology, literally meaning the study of the soul, plays a great role in cricket as well. Another important concept which needs to be understood is sports psychology. Sports psychology is the application of psychological principles to sports and physical activity at all levels of skill improvement. 

One must realize how psychology can impact their performance. Well, there are numerous psychological factors that often affect one’s response on the field, such as, the personality of the individual, motivation, aggression, attitude, intelligence, etc. Even in a Cricket Team, there are eleven players who have different personalities, while one may be aggressive and the other may be reserved and calm in the same situation. One could be very expressive and the other one may not be that expressive. 

It is natural for players to lose their peace of mind. But it’s important to be optimistic both on the field and off the field. Thoughts/ mindset/ approaches to different situations have a direct link with their performance. The more mentally stable and mature a player is the better results they will give. Being mentally mature means that a person would be indifferent to the negative aspect of people’s attitudes/ situations/ things. They would not affect the performance of the said player and they will have the capacity to deliver an impact through their performance. Hence, it is crucial for a player to guide their mind in the right direction.

How do cricketers make themselves think positive on the field?

The way they think is how they actually act. Keeping oneself optimistic all the time, both on and off the field is something which has to be practiced on a regular basis. It’s natural to have pessimistic thoughts, so to avoid that, the thought process has to be controlled all the time. One must believe in his/her capabilities and block negative thoughts. The way we think is the way we experience. Thus, one must focus on staying positive all the time. This shall be achieved through meditation also.

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Why was Mithali Raj reading a book before the World Cup semi-final match?

Mithali Raj reading book Rumi

Mithali Raj, who was seen reading a book before the world cup semi-final match, was doing nothing but just controlling her nerves by focusing on reading a book. These are the small things which one can do to enhance the concentration level.

Suppose a batsman while batting has a fear of getting out. In such a case, they doubt their ability, which will ultimately hamper their performance and it becomes more likely that the batsman will get out soon because of concentration on the wrong aspect. On the other hand, if a batsman is confident about their skills, they will act in the same manner and would take all the challenges as opportunities to showcase their talent. Players shall have the spirit to keep all the situations under their control on the field calmly and smartly. So it’s no external factor but the internal one, the brain which has to be controlled. The fear of performance can be erased by mentally backing oneself. The player shall know how to use the thoughts as an asset and boon. They shall believe in what they are capable of and have confidence in their process.  

Also Read: How do cricketers train themselves to stay fit both mentally and physically?

All the elite players know how to back themselves through their minds. Over the years they have practiced and mastered this skill. It’s the control over thoughts which makes a player a better one.

How did Sarah Taylor overcome anxiety and depression issues?

Sarah Taylor opening up about her anxiety and depression issues
Pic Credits: ECB

The English player, Sarah Taylor, known for her phenomenal wicket-keeping skills was once going through depression. She was once going through a tough phase in her life when she had to fight depression and anxiety. Not only she did that brilliantly but she also made a comeback to the national side. Now young people follow her and the former cricketer praise her for the skill she possesses on the field. So, a player shall know how to control their thoughts. It is essential for budding players to understand it’s importance at the base level itself. 

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There are many ways through which aspiring players can learn how to control their minds. Apart from the basic routine including fitness and skill, an individual can contribute some time of the day and indulge in exercises like meditation, recreational activities. This can also be done through yoga. It brings a sense of stability and internal power. 

If we observe closely, Australians who sledged the other players on the field basically try to disturb the mind-set of the players of the other team. They have good control over both the internal and external environment. Naturally, after playing so many matches, they also get disturbed. But it is solely years of practice that they perform well individually and as a team. Hence, the player with mental toughness and focus will perform well.

There are many players who represent the country besides thousands of obstacles. This is because they have their thoughts in their control and they always believe in themselves. So, if our thoughts are in the right direction, our skill would take the right track on its own.

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