Malcolm Gladwell theorised that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill.
A long time ago I decided to try out lacrosse. I was told when you’re shooting you don’t load up with a back swing like you do when you’re about to throw a ball. It was almost instinct for me to pull my arm back so when the time came for me to take a shot at the goal I pulled my net back and the lacrosse ball fell on my head. That was the first and LAST time I picked up a lacrosse stick.
I’m a very impatient person (it’s a work in progress). I love trying new things but also like to understand/be good at those things quickly. If things don’t come naturally to me I question whether I’ll ever be capable of doing it. Following this I should’ve given up on cricket a hell of a long time ago…
The reason I actually decided to write this piece was because of a teammate of mine – who I personally think has developed so much as a player this year. She was telling me she didn’t believe she had the capacity to reach the standard she wished to be and I remembered that feeling exactly.
So that evening I went home, sent her my stats and thought about my own development.
Nothing to rave about, I was never a natural player (I was even apprehensive about putting up my stats for everyone to see) and I have a long way to go in terms of development and reaching my personal goals but I wanted to show what self-investment, hard work and some belief can do.
I used to bowl some questionable left-arm Chinaman. I was basically in the team as a fielder, filling a spot when needed. In 2017, something changed. I started to take things more seriously, I wanted to earn my place in that team and be the best I could be. I had been playing for a long time without any real hard work or investment into my cricket and yet kept asking myself why wasn’t I good enough?! Finally I took responsibility for my own development and embarked on a new journey.
During the 2017 season, I started to invest time in myself and my training, I’d always be doing throw-downs with teammates and I started working on my fielding and fitness. After the season finished, I found a coach and began working on more technical movements. I would go home, lay my cones out on the floor and shadow bat. I hung a ball in a sock from my bedroom door frame and annoyed my family no end with the constant hammering sound of bat on ball.
2018 season came with some progress no doubt, that hard work helped me reach a new high score, I spent time at the crease, held up an end and started developing my keeping. But it wasn’t enough. As much as I was spending time doing drills I was missing something, and that’s exactly when I met the person I needed to meet to take me that step further.
On 10th July 2018 I had my first coaching session with Tom Scollay, ex-Middlesex player and founder of CricketMentoring. I’d been following his content for a while and was SO excited to train with him. Tom asked me before the session to send him a message on what I wanted to work on. I decided today to re-read what I had said to him before going… My message read something like this: “I struggle to play anything full and quick on leg”, “I open the innings and fear getting out early so I don’t play naturally”, “I feel pressure“, “I feel responsible“…. It was a recurrent theme regarding a lack of belief and confidence and it pulled through everywhere. I had spent so much time trying to hone my technical skills I had neglected everything else. My development looked something like this:
I had worked hard on my technical skill and my fitness, I was mid training for a Tough Mudder and doing everything I could to work on the physical aspect of my development but I had overlooked a huge part of my game.
From just that 1 hour with Tom I knew I had to work on the mental side of my game if I wanted to develop further. I would chastise myself every time I missed a ball or mishit, I would get annoyed with myself for getting out and therefore not play my natural gamed. I had absolutely no idea the detrimental impact that was having on my progress.
At the beginning of 2019 I left to train at the Karnataka Institute of Cricket in Bangalore, India. Monday-Friday we would do fitness 9.30-10, one-to-ones 10-11, fielding at 3 and nets from 4-6 and at the same time I started Tom’s Peak Performance Programme. A 12-week programme covering habits, fears, confidence, concentration, conscious and sub-conscious training and many other topics. I spent time working on those spokes that I had neglected for so long, building affirmations and belief in myself, thinking about my goals and breaking down those fears and negative thoughts which I had sent to Tom just a few months before. This fed into my training, I began enjoying it more, I had the confidence to go and play men’s cricket this year and score my first 50 in women’s. That confidence flowed into my captaincy and taught me to not let my fear of making mistakes run me but to let myself make them and learn from them.
Now whether Malcolm Gladwell’s theory is true or not is neither here nor there. Some things may come quite naturally to people and some may have to put in 10x the amount of work for half the results, but the concept stands. The more you invest, the more you’ll get out of it. More often than not, the only person limiting your development is yourself. If you’d asked me back in 2017 if I’d ever score 50 I would have laughed and now, I’m focusing on a new three figure target.
Self-investment is an ongoing process, you never stop learning or developing. It take’s time and effort to grow. You can’t expect miracles overnight but if you take the time to invest in yourself not just physically but mentally too, you might be surprised by what you can really achieve…