You have been doing well. Runs and wickets flow. Your team is winning. Then an unexpected result puts you on the skids.
Have you lost form? Are you untalented?
This is the problem for my team right now.
After a ripping start, the batting unit have failed to chase 166 and 141 in 50 over matches, and managed to lose a Twenty20 by 10 wickets after scoring a feeble 89.
This is the classic issue of lost confidence: Players who have performed before can’t repeat it.
How do you rebuild your game from here?
Reset your expectations
When you are playing well, your confidence is high and you start to expect to win things easily. This is human nature, but when this stops (and it always stops eventually) you feel confused. What’s changed?
Why has brilliance been replaced by mediocrity?
In reality, nothing much has changed. You have not suddenly become a bad player or a bad team overnight. The only difference is except your expectations.
So reset them.
Instead of expecting to score runs every time or bowl your team to victory every time (unreasonable), tell yourself that you will work your hardest and try your best.
If you try your best, winning or losing does not make a difference to your confidence levels.
Of course, the result is important. Your form is important. But knowing you did everything you could but are going to learn from your mistakes is a totally different mindset from feeling out of control, confused and upset.
The former leads you towards recovery, the latter leads you towards worse results.
So, learn from your errors, try to correct them and move on quickly.
Of course, mindset is one thing, but what do you actually do to turn things around?
Take control and plan for the worst.
When you are down on confidence, people will tell you to think positive. Everyone loves a cheerful tryer. That’s all well and good, but it won’t get you out of your hole. Instead you need to imagine the absolute worst that can happen.
Why would you do such a thing to yourself?
First, it teaches you that things are never as bad as they could be. As humans we almost always imagine far worse consequences than the reality of the situation. Second, it allows you to plan for the hard circumstances.
If you fear the spinner ripping it square then you can get to work on playing spin. If you are terrified of getting out and end up making six runs in 50 balls then hammer some strike rotation at practice.
When you overload yourself beyond the game situation, you find the game itself a lot easier.
We all make mistakes. Cricket would be dull if we didn’t.
Good players fail too. The difference is that good players learn to let go of past mistakes.
Tell yourself that we all are human and sometimes we get it wrong. Sometimes the opposition will outplay us no matter how talented we are. Those things are normal and natural.
How you react is crucial.
If you decide you have “lost it” and get upset you will find it hard to get back to your previous heights. If you forgive your transgressions, set yourself to work hard in training and be ready to put in your best effort in the next game you have given yourself the best chance of success.
Tell yourself, “my recovery starts here”. Let go and get ready for the next one.
The bottom line
You know you are good enough, even if you are doubting yourself.
When you are in that place, it’s all about the mental game.
Work hard, train hard and rebuild that robust confidence. Your journey back to form will be shorter than you think.