Ricky Pointing, captain of the Australian national team during its ‘golden era’ (2004 – 2011) and widely regarded as the greatest batsman of all time, would periodically (like most long time champions) hit a slump.
I really liked this statement made in The Sydney Morning Herald on 24th February, by Peter Roebuck:
“Unfortunately, even a mature batsman can have trouble with his grey matter and his pedals. After years of reliable work, Pointing’s feet are refusing to take him into the correct position at the appropriate time. He has become taut, anxious and, rather than letting the ball come to him, he is reaching for it. Rhythm has deserted him and he is trying to recollect how he scored all those runs. At such times the past is the only reassurance a man can find. Meanwhile, his bat feels as thin as a twig”.
Often, a bad patch begins with a minor disturbance in the mind, a little laziness, an uncorrected bad habit, or an unsettling thought that nibbles away like “a rat at cheese”.
The points Roebuck makes in the above statement are very valid. They can also be very closely related to tennis – ie: the correct foot positioning at the appropriate time, being relaxed, staying down and hitting through the shot, not reaching for the ball, keeping good rhythm and trusting your instincts!
An uneasy mind quickly translates to poor movement on court, and many, many times we see all these skills seemingly vanish in a match, or over a period of time, for even the greatest players.
What’s important is to see this for what it is – a slump – and quickly re-establish the routines and triggers that get your mind back to it most amazing & powerful self !