Today is the first guest article on the site. Rich Hudson is a human being who spends some time on the planet as a cricket coach and writer. Here is his view on how we play the game.

We want to allow ourselves and others to play with freedom, to express themselves, to be comfortable in their own skin, to be great teammates, to have fun and love playing the game.

To do this in cricket we must first build the foundations.

The foundations begin with our understanding. What do we understand, and misunderstand, about how the mind works? And how does that understanding impact everything we do within the great game of cricket?

The cornerstone of how we change the game of mental health and performance psychology in cricket is the realisation that our experience is always taking place from the inside-out. However, it appears to be coming from the outside-in.

Look at the situations below and ask yourself these two questions:

  • Do I feel the same way about them every time?

  • Does everyone feel the same way about them?

Nicking off for a duck. Scoring 30. Taking a slip catch. Getting hit for 6.

These aspects of the game happen to everyone. However, we do not experience them the same way because of one simple, fundamental reason – we have different thinking taking place within our minds every time that they take place. It appears that scoring a duck or a hundred, taking 5-for or getting whacked causes us to feel how we do (outside-in), but if we look closely it is always and only thought-in-the-moment creating that experience from the inside-out.

Everyone’s experience is made of a continually fluctuating thought-feeling connection, whilst we all continually fall for the circumstance-feeling illusion. How things appear are not how they are. Hearing this for the first time is different. Ultimately, it becomes transformational.

Gaining insight into the thought-feeling connection gradually changes how we perceive the challenges of the game. We see that:

  • The feeling of pressure does not come from how difficult a game is or the expectations of others. It comes from the thought in the moment that we’re experiencing

  • Nerves do not come from big games or intimidating opponents. They come from the thought in the moment that we’re experiencing

  • Confidence does not come from recent performances. It comes from… you get the picture.

These feelings and perceptions taking place from the inside-out are made of thought. The nature of thought is:

  • Transient (it passes on its own -can you remember what you were thinking this time yesterday?)

  • Illusory (a thought is a thought – it doesn’t have to be believed)

  • It fluctuates (our moods rise and fall all day, and with it, our perceptions shift)

  • You do not control it (otherwise we’d know what we’ll thinking about this time tomorrow)

Apply this to have you feel about the game of cricket. Some days you love it, some days you hate it, some days you find it the easiest thing in the world, most days it feels like the hardest! This is the transient, fluctuating and uncontrollable nature of thought, about a game which remains exactly the same as it always was.

If we strongly believe that our experience is outside-in – that our well-being and sense of self is reliant on our performances – we will inevitably overthink whatever we believe is the creator of our experience. It becomes freeing to see that everything is a temporary perception. 

Many of the misunderstandings we’ve collected over time begin to drop without effort and our experience of the game subtly, but fundamentally, shifts. When we stop taking our thinking seriously, we stop taking ourselves so seriously! We can start having fun playing the game again.

We begin to realise whether we have been playing cricket as an expression of ourselves or in a search for it?

Anybody looking for fulfilment in scoring hundreds, knocking stumps out of the ground or in amazing diving catches will not find it. They are great, great fun – and a testament to skill, game awareness, physical conditioning and more.

However, happiness, fulfilment, freedom cannot be found in what is transient. As soon as it’s taken form, it’s gone. What we are really looking for can only be found in what is permanent – your essential nature. Not your personality or your performances, but in your essential nature - the awareness of your experience, the energy of life that you have always experienced.

You are this infinite space within which all experience, thoughts, feelings and perceptions appear. The essential, unchanging ‘you’ that was there when you first picked up a bat and a ball. Before you collected and believed limiting labels about who you are, what success is and what you have to do to prove yourself.

Getting a bit deep? Isn’t that what it’s all about? We’ve realised that mental health is not found in what is temporary – e.g. results, money, relationships, status – but that those things can be enjoyed without a feeling of need or craving, when we have built the foundations on solid ground of understanding.

Foundations are deep. They provide the effortless strength to ride the waves of life, and the ups and downs of the game, with more clarity, compassion, freedom, love and enjoyment. See them evolve back into your cricket because you’ve let go of the outside-in beliefs that have got in your way for so long and come back to what’s true in this fluctuating, magnificent, inside-out existence of ours.

Rich Hudson is the Author of Pressure Myths, available on Amazon. He is an ECB Level 4 Coach and a Performance Psychologist working with a variety of teams and organisations. Get in touch with him on Twitter @rdhudson00.

AuthorDavid Hinchliffe