Cricket Mental Training : Performance Relaxation
My thanks to my mental training mentor Dr.Rayma Ditson-Sommer for the background material for this article on relaxation, recovery and optimal performance.
Cricket Mental Training is about improving your cricket performance.
Everything here in the pages on the Cricket Mental Game, Coaching and Cricket Strategy are designed to assist with this.
Our starting point for this is brain based coaching and giving you the theory behind it.
The Optimal Performance state we train for needs a balance of calmness, stress and balance.
A.B. de Villiers exemplifies a cricketer who gets the right balance of rest and recovery in their life.
Instead of seeking to pursue extra income from playing cricket all year round, during breaks in the season he rests, recovers and does maintenance work on his conditioning.
The recovery is mind-body, it allows A.B to shift down mentally as well.
This recovery and relaxation time allows the mind and body to recover and for the cricketer to be able to peak for key competitions and matches.
One of the keys to cricket mental training is learning to actively particpate in your own recovery and relaxation, allowing you to develop a calm mind.
A calm mind is a performance ready mind, we are seeking to create a quiet mind where mind and body are in tune, ready to act in synchrony.
Stress is essential in peak performance to activate and maintain an optimum arousal level, this is important in entering the zone state.
Too much stress impacts negatively on performance, too little leaves us under aroused and out of focus.
This optimal state for performance comes from a base of relaxation, this relaxation is a specific frequency in the brain.
We cycle up from this frequency to our focused state for cricket performance.
Cricket mental training uses this as our foundation state.
We use the practical exercises on performance breathing and physical relaxation to come back to, to reset the nervous system and allow the brain to recharge and relax.
Used on a regular basis you will find you are calmer and more focused in all aspects of life, not just your cricket.
Specifically you will be able to think better and more clearly about situations that previously stressed you or made you anxious.
It will allow you to create and find better solutions to your cricket game challenges.
Relaxation and Recovery
Sleep is necessary for wellness, to promote optimum physical function and a peak mental performance in all aspects of our cricket, both in training and play.
Left brain mental chatter creates an anxious state that can disturb deep sleep, preventing an individual from receiving a restful night’s sleep.
Being able to wake up after a good nights sleep starts the day off in a positive, productive way allowing for peak cricket performance through out the day.
Stressful and anxiety producing situations and the need for high intensity cricket competition can place the body and mind in a state of distress.
I have seen cricketers become ill and injured when they don't manage to get this balance right.
From a cricket coaching perspective I like the sides I am coaching to taper down going into matches, so that they can come up mentally and emotionally for performance.
The mind and body refreshed and ready.
When the mind-body system is over stretched, the body releases adrenaline, cortisol and lactic acid, which collect in the muscle tissue resulting in fatigue and mis-firing of muscle groups.
This impacts on timing and co-ordination, the opening batters squeezes the bat handle too tightly and pushes with hard hands at the ball when he or she first comes in. They edge the ball and are caught, one stressor feeds the next and results in inferior performance.
They walk off emotionally distraught, muttering 'why does this always happen to me'. The stress cycle goes around till it is broken and replaced with a better performance program.
The bowler grips the ball too tight, it alters the angle of the seam and lack of control ensues.
They consequently bowl wides and then are taken off, one stressor feeds the next.
So in cricket mental training we focus on optimal wellness, it is important for the body to clean out stress by-products which lead to poor performance.
Sleep is one of the surest ways to rid the body of toxins and harmful elements.
Research reports that to achieve deep sleep, one must enter the Delta brain wave several times during the night. This restful state allows the body to release quantities of healing growth hormones and other restorative secretions which produce a good night’s sleep.
High levels of cricket competition can bring feelings of uncertainty, challenging and changing many of the pre-determined ideas we have about ourselves.
Cricket Mental Training: Managing Ourselves and Change
In our cricket world, at school, club and at all levels of the game, our attitudes are ever-changing.
They change relative to the current challenges in our game and cricket training.
Learning to manage change mentally offers more understanding of yourself and your individual abilities.
Increasing flexibility of thought through generating better solutions and choices, allows us to manage cricket situations better, on and off the field.
Goal setting can be one of the more challenging aspects of mental training for cricket.
To better reach our goals, a self-understanding is required.
Your viewpoints and the way you look at challenges are mental thoughts coming directly from the mind via a specific brain wave.
Although mental thoughts are your view points, you are distinct from them.
You adopt viewpoints that you find useful.
As your challenges change, so then, do your viewpoints change as new information or circumstances present themselves.
Viewpoints tend to remain constant and fully operative unless specific steps are taken to make the change.
The primary viewpoints to understand are your attitudes toward failure and success.
Whenever the possibility of success exists, so does the opportunity for failure.
Fear of failure is a paramount obstacle to success.
Accompanying the fear of failure is anxiety and mind/body stress.
This stress is a product of the nervous system.
The autonomic nervous system is responsible for “running” the body. It is influenced by the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system it controls.
When anxiety is present the body signals the nervous system that attention is necessary. The mind sends a message of possible peril and a “flight or fight” state develops.
This stage has 1500 body change requirements including faster heart beat, secretion of adrenaline and surges of energy in the muscles.
If performance anxiety or fear of failure is the mental attitude, the autonomic nervous system readies itself for the battle.
At this point, the body looses its readiness to compete at the perfected level training has required.
The brain begins to operate on an alerted level of beta and cycles faster and faster until it is out of control.
At this point, all prior training is lost and reflex becomes the “order of the day.”
Remember: Attitude change, loss of control is a reality and poor performance is the outcome.
Practical Relaxation Exercise
To manage and master these stress producing situations and perspectives it is important to consistently re-set the brain to get back into a healthy, resourceful state.
Using practical mind-body exercises gives you the power to consciously change and master your state, allowing you to relax, recharge and recover for performance, in your cricket training and game situations.
You can use this exercise as the lead into your performance Visualization and Imagery.
You may put this on a CD or mp3 to facilitate this exercise.
Get yourself into a comfortable position, make sure you will be warm and make sure you won't be disturbed.
Turn off your phone and loosen any tight clothing
Remember you must never listen to this whilst driving or operating machinery.
Now focus on your breathing.
Breathe easily and slowly.
As you breathe in allow your stomach to rise and extend. As you breathe out let your whole body relax. Breathe in – feel your stomach rise. Breathe out – relax. Breathe in – feel your stomach rise. Breathe out – relax. (Do 3 times). For the next 10 breaths, each time you breathe in feel your stomach rise – each time you breathe out think to yourself…. relax….relax….relax (pause 10 breaths).
Let yourself relax. Feel the relaxation spread through your body. Breathe easily and slowly. Become aware of your feet. Move your toes slightly. Let them relax. Now think into your lower legs. Let your calf muscles totally relax. Think into your upper legs. Let them totally relax. Feel your legs sink into a completely relaxed state. Relax your behind. (pause).
Focus on the muscles in your lower back. Think relaxation into those muscles. Feel that relaxation spread into your upper back. Feel your whole body sink into a deep state of relaxation. Now focus on your fingers. Feel them tingle slightly. Think warmth into your fingers. Let them totally relax. Relax your forearms, your upper arms, and your shoulders. Totally relax. Relax your neck (pause) and your jaw. Feel your head sink into a totally relaxed and comfortable position.
Scan your body for possible areas of tightness and relax those areas. Feel your entire body encircled with soothing warmth and relaxation. Enjoy this wonderful state of complete relaxation. (pause 1 minute).
Feel yourself sink deeper and deeper into a calm and wonderful state of complete relaxation.
You may want to use this exercise to lead into a deep and restorative nights sleep.
Each and every word spoken from this point on will take you deeper and deeper into a restful nights sleep.
Or you may continue the recording with your visualization and imagery script.
At the end of the script you may tell yourself you will wake up feeling marvelous, happy,confident and looking forward to the day ahead then count 3,2,1 and awake.
From this point you can go straight into your movie theatre to do your Imagery and Visualization work
Back to Cricket Mental Training from Relaxation As The Foundation Of Performance
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