cricketLast night’s Big Bash match offered all of us a lesson on how to combat a pressure situation. The game went down to the last ball and I reckon the bowling team made a huge mistake.

Simon Milenko, the bowler for Hobart, was on fire. He almost single handedly got them back into the game. He was proving difficult to score from. The batting team (Adelaide) needed to hit the fence to win the match and this looked unlikely.

And here’s where I think things went wrong for Hobart…

They over-thought the situation. 3 or 4 teammates got into the bowler’s ear before he bowled the last ball. I can only imagine what they were saying but I’m positive NONE of this helped Milenko. They disrupted his flow and he went on to bowl his worst ball of the night. They just took too much time to play and this only helped the batter settle.

While there’s really no way of proving if this over-thinking really cost them the game, if he was left alone to do his thing (just bowl the bloody ball) it couldn’t have been any worse.

When the pressure is on it’s tempting to think and analyse. But you’ve got to resist the urge. Add too many thoughts/ideas/theories and the system breaks down. Focus on what you want to achieve and you maximise your chances of getting what you want. And getting clear on your intention really takes very little time – you’ve just got to trust yourself that this is the better way.

If Hobart had gotten on with the game in seconds (and not a minute or so) they would have sent a very strong message to the batting team (and the entire competition).

We’ve got this.
We’re confident.
We’re great under pressure.

And I reckon the outcome would have been different. There really is a fine line between success and failure. You can watch the story unfold here.

Here’s a golf example.

Back in the day, when I was just starting to figure out that my mental deficiencies were the reason I wasn’t playing so well, I had a huge breakthrough and here’s what happened.

I was playing the last hole for my golf team. The match was all square and the previous six matches were split 3/3. If I won the hole my team would win but we’d lose the contest if I lost that 18th hole.

And things weren’t looking too good because I had just played a poor approach. I left myself a tricky pitch and my opponent was safely on. And it was then that an annoying member of the golf team was all over me:

“Cameron, you’ve got to win for the team”
“You’re the last match and you must get the ball up and down”
“This is a difficult chip shot, be careful, the green is fast”
“You can do this”
“Stay positive”
“What club are you going to use?”

Up to this point in my career I was an underachiever. I had this terrible habit of choking and stuffing up when I least wanted to. I showed lots of potential but I could never really live up to it. And I’m sure most of the members thought that I was going to throw away another match I should have won. I also lacked confidence and let people walk over me. But not this time.

Me: Mate, fuck off! I’ve got this. Leave me alone and let me do what I’ve got to do.

I was more shocked than the other guy but he let me be and I had a moment of clarity. All I had to do was focus on what I wanted and my body (the talent if you will) could do the rest. I chose a club and pitched the ball onto the green. The ball landed perfectly and then trickled across the green and went into the hole. The opponent missed and I scored an unlikely win.

The breakthrough was I needed to think less and not more. When the pressure is on you have to keep thoughts simple and let the game flow. Thinking too much is for those that lack confidence.