Playing cricket in nets and in games are two totally different things. The most obvious difference between the two is pressure. Practices are the stage for polishing your skills. Actual matches are where you display your game skills, fitness, mental strength and appetite for success.
There is no glow on the face of people who are stressed - only those perform and glow who are fearless. There is a lot of pressure in a game. We all know that cricket is played more than 50% in the mind. Some would say that it is played closer to 80% or 90% in the mind. You have to be organised, brave and mentally strong to perform in matches. In every game, the player will face a different type of situation and different types of bowlers. Indeed, successful players know how to absorb and release the pressure. Great players always hold their nerve in pressure situations.
Most of the time players lose their wicket, not because the bowler has beaten them but rather through their own fault. Fear of failure is a major cause o dismissal. Fear of failure puts a lot of pressure on the players. Players need freedom and a clear plan to perform in the matches. Sometimes players feel that they are not under any pressure and suddenly they start playing too many shots too early in their innings. Players should remember that Fear of failure is not good for their game but staying aware of the situation is very important.
If the cricketer knows their strength and weaknesses, they can manage themselves quite easily. Thinking too much about the game and personal performance puts players under pressure for no good reason. Good preparation in the nets and implementation of the game plan helps a lot to enable successful performances in matches. Thinking about your competitors, the scoreboard, selection, media, coaches and followers prevent the player perform in the matches.
Players should focus on what they can control. They should focus on the process rather than looking toward the outcome. Players should take the game one ball at a time!
Here are some suggestions for absorbing pressure:
1. Players shouldn’t think too much about their performance. Play one ball at a time.2. Meditation exercises help to absorb pressure.
3. Good preparation in the nets and self-belief helps a lot.
4. Listen to music to release the pressure.
5. Never think about your competitors. Play your own game.
6. Watch and read positive things only.
7. Talk with your coach or mentor about your doubts.
8. Staying fit and healthy helps you to feel confident and it absorbs the pressure.
9. Plan your innings. Set small targets, never take scoreboard pressure.
10. Never think too much in advance about the game.
11. Stay happy and share the jokes with your mates.
12 Think about your best performances.
13. Never leave your preparation to the last moment.
14. Never think about bad performance or doubt on your ability.
15. Talk to yourself and back yourself.
16. Talk to your batting partner constantly- it helps to calm one’s nerves.
17. The longer you stay at wicket more pressure is built on the opposition and that will offer you some lose deliveries.
18. The frustration of not being successful can bring your or opposition’s game down - let the opposition be in that situation so you can reap the rewards.
19. Your teammates or partner in the middle are your best pals - support them and you will get supported.
For example, in T20 game if there are 5 overs left and you need 50 runs to win. There are two ways of thinking.
1. The team need 10 runs an over which puts a lot of pressure on the players. If you think like this you will lose most of the games.
2. We need to hit six boundaries out of 30 balls which give us half of the runs. The rest of the runs can come by rotating the strike. Six boundaries can come in last two overs too.
In the end, I believe that if you want to be a successful cricketer you should be mentally strong and must be good enough to hold the nerve.