Nature or nurture: the art of team captaincy

Across many professional sports the importance of leadership within teams is broadly acknowledged. Indeed, many teams appoint formal leaders such as captains to help provide this leadership within the team. However, while this is the case there is a lot less clarity regarding what role(s) these captains should be undertaking. Part of the challenge here is the different nature of the captaincy position in different sports. In a sport such as cricket the captain is a key member

Decision-making training in sport

Performance in sport is characterised by the ability to make the right decisions under pressure. Indeed, if you consider sports currently in the headlines with the FIFA 2014 Football World cup in Brazil, the All England Tennis Championships at Wimbledon, and the recent Cricket Test Match Series between England and Sri Lanka effective decision-making in all three is key. However, historically the notion of the ‘right’ decision has not been well articulated. In the UK in partic

Momentum and collective collapse in sport

With the 4th One Day International (ODI) taking place between England and Sri Lanka today I thought I would take the opportunity to reflect on the previous two games. Both games have been incredibly one-sided, but not to the same team. In the previous game England bowled Sri Lanka out for 67, and won by 10 wickets (for any non-cricket fans that is a low score and big winning margin). But in the ODI before that Sri-Lanka bowled England out for 99 after scoring 256-8, which was

What is the shelf-life of a sports team?

The debacle that was the performance of the England cricket team in Australia has brought to the fore the issue of the longevity of sports teams. There is no doubting that the England cricket team were once an excellent team both in terms of individual performances, and in terms of the performance of the team. However, by the end of the Ashes series there was pretty wide spread recognition that this current team had reached the end of the line. The questions now being posed i

A little confidence goes a long way

The Ashes are back, the great cricket rivalry between England and Australia recommences in earnest this week in Brisbane, Australia. It only seems like earlier this year that the two teams were battling for supremacy . . . . . wait a minute . . . . it was earlier this year! The current year presents an anomaly regarding the contest between the two nations. To avoid a clash between the Ashes and the Cricket world cup in Australia in 2015 the latest round of the contest in Aust

Game changing innovation and advancement

It was interesting last week with the 20th Anniversary of Shane Warne’s amazing ‘ball of the century’ to dismiss Mike Gatting on day two of the first test of the 1993 Ashes series (4th June 1993), at Old Trafford cricket ground in Manchester. The delivery was special in itself, but also special in the context of the game of cricket as it has been recognised as a key factor in the revival of leg spin bowling. While the ball itself was amazing I am particularly interested in ho

Sport psychology, confidence tricks and the dark arts

I read with interest the comments of Paulo Di Canio, the head coach/manager of Sunderland football club in the English Premier League at the weekend. Di Canio is quoted as saying that he knows all he needs to know about getting inside players minds. He also stated that he was not going as far as saying that sport psychologists should not work in football, although I think there was a big ‘but’ behind that statement that spoke volumes. I am not sure if this speaks of an insec

The psychology of cricket

To coincide with the Launch of my new book titled ‘Psychology of cricket’ that I have co-authored with Dr Jamie Barker I thought I would share a few thoughts on the psychology of the game in my blog post this week. Cricket is an interesting game, with many facets, but I think a significant aspect of cricket – like many sports is confidence. Form is everything in cricket. Players often talk about either being ‘in form’ or ‘out of touch’. But what does this term ‘form’ actuall

The Indian team are under pressure to perform – can they cope?

The big challenge in any performance environment is to be able to deliver when it counts. Whether it is in sport, medicine, the military, the theatre, or in music the ability to do it when it counts is of fundamental importance. Coping with the associated pressure in these environments is an important aspect of this ability to perform. But, in order to cope with this pressure you need to first understand where pressure comes from. All pressure is ultimately an internal constr

Play to your strengths to bounce back from defeat

The first cricket test match between India and England ended a couple of days ago with a victory for the home team by what ultimately was a comprehensive margin (9 wickets). England have a history of performing poorly when playing in the Indian sub continent, so on the face of it England are on course for another comprehensive series loss. But maybe this time things are going to be a little different. True, in the first half of the match England were not really at the races.

Selection headaches: Best players or best team?

The recent dropping of Kevin  Peterson, arguably one of the most talented players in the England cricket team, has highlighted an interesting debate for coaches, managers, and selectors involved in team sports. Do you pick the best players or the best team? Kevin Peterson is a very talented cricket player, and on his day he can be one of the most destructive players in international cricket. But, at the same time, Peterson appears to have an issue when it comes to  fitting in