Tuesday 25 June 2013 

The Dhoni-Fletcher Guide To Getting Out Of A Slump

Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir
The Dhoni-Fletcher Guide To Getting Out Of A Slump
© REUTERS / Action Images
 

Does it sometimes feel like you are cursed to make no progess with your cricket?

Take heart from the recent turnaround seen by India. Post-2011 World Cup, the side were in a slump of Test hammerings and World Twenty20 failure.

Like them, failure for you feels like a disaster.

That feeling you had when you were a master of the game has gone. Your confidence is shot which puts you into a spiral of worse play and no idea how to get out it.

Slump city, population: you

But as the India team have demonstrated, occasionally you get rusty and lose your skills. It doesn’t mean you have lost it.

Everyone hits a slump.

Everyone questions whether this unforgiving period is a glitch or time to move on to something else.

If you take this feeling at face value you start believing that you have lost your skills (or you never had them).

Lucky for India, the coach Duncan Fletcher and the Captain MS Dhoni were more experienced and knew how to break out of a slump. They turned it around so by the 2013 Champions Trophy the side were powerful and confident enough to win at a canter.

How do you learn from this experience at the top level to bring it into your own game?

Life aint linear

Sometimes we assume that life should be simple, we progress slowly forward from junior levels through to our natural highest level. For some that is playing for India.

In fact, cricket skills fluctuate far more than this.

Cricket is so much a game of the mind that luck, apathy and just darn good play from your opposition can send you on a spiral of negative thoughts.

We all know that if you think something is true for long enough, you make it true; the boffins call it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But when you know that life is not as simple as a straight line of progress you can take action to control it.

Which is what I am sure Fletcher worked on with India.

How to beat the slump

The first step is to accept that times happen when you are not playing your best cricket. Everyone from the 10-year-old beginner to Tendulkar himself has forgettable moments.

It doesn't make you a bad player.

When you feel that form frustration, take a step back.

Start doing practice that you enjoy. That could be hitting the gym hard, or playing pick up games. It might be taking some time off altogether (as long as it is something that helps you relax and reset).

Being in a slump is a negative cycle, so you need to break from habits for a while.

A word of warning though; this doesn't always work first time.

India made an attempt to break the slump after each series or tournament. It doesn't work first time every time.

But with a strong captain like Dhoni, India pushed through and returned to peak form in time to pick up a trophy.

And so should you.

When you return to "normal practice" (and by that I mean mindful work that is specific to your needs) you may get frustrated by the slowness of your gains.

Stay positive, build momentum and ride your luck when it comes (the good luck always comes back eventully)

No slump lasts forever unless you let it.

So learn from this, give yourself a break and accept your journey sometimes has to go back before it can go forward.

by David Hinchclife, PitchVision Academy
© 2013 miSport Ltd

For more coaching tips, videos and courses, please visit the PitchVision Academy website

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