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  • Writer's pictureAustin Coutinho

Batting & Range Hitting: Unleash Your Inner Power

Discover the secrets of entering the 'zone' as a young batter and unleashing your true potential. Learn how to quieten your mind, trust your instincts, and let your subconscious mind take over. Follow this step-by-step process to become a confident and powerful hitter, clearing boundaries with ease.

Batters like Ishan Kishan, Surya Kumar Yadav, Glenn Maxwell, and others have proven that physical strength is not the only factor behind clearing boundaries with ease. These players, despite not having a strong build, consistently hit the ball beyond 90 meters effortlessly. But how do they do it? The answer lies in being "in the zone."

What does it mean to be in the 'zone'? In simple terms, batters in the zone operate on autopilot, without overthinking. They focus on a single cue and stay fully present in the moment.

To fully understand this concept, let's explore what it means to be outside the zone. Why do batters struggle to connect when attempting big hits? It's often because their minds are busy and filled with swirling thoughts. They may be dwelling on past mistakes or doubting themselves. Constant self-judgment and trying to out-think the bowlers to disrupt their performance. To enter the zone, batters need to quieten their minds and achieve perfect harmony between their minds and bodies.

So, how can you achieve this state?

To better understand the concept, let's introduce SELF1 and SELF2 to batting, a concept similar to what Tim Gallwey discusses in 'Inner Tennis.' Think of your brain as having two selves: SELF1, your ego-driven thoughts, and SELF2, your muscle memory-driven abilities developed through practice and hard work.

(Note: SELF1 is often referred to as the 'conscious mind,' while SELF2 is the 'subconscious mind' by most mind-trainers.)

When SELF1 takes control, you may struggle to connect effectively with the ball. Your coach might constantly urge you to be more aggressive, and worries about getting injured may occupy your mind, affecting your focus. SELF1 might also remind you of the bowler's skills. Allowing these cues to clutter your mind during the game can breed doubts. In such situations, SELF1 (the conscious mind) takes over, forming judgments like "This is a tough battle," "Will I lose my wicket?" or "I'm exhausted; I don't know how much I have left in me." These judgments often disrupt a batter's rhythm and timing, leading to sluggish movements and emotional fluctuations between anger and defeat.

Now, let's shift our focus to SELF2 (the subconscious mind). As you read this, your body is performing various tasks without conscious thought. Your heart beats, your eyelashes blink, you breathe, and your eyes naturally follow the words on the screen. It all happens effortlessly. So why should it be any different on the cricket field? If you have honed your skills through practice, why can't you trust your body to execute those skills?

The answer lies in SELF1, the ego, constantly casting judgments that prevent your body from performing at its best. SELF1 creates doubts, inhibits your breathing, and tightens your muscles, resulting in mishits during big shots.

Successful batters are usually adept at visualization. In their mind's eye, they envision positive outcomes from practiced strokes. They know that practice involves both SELF1 and SELF2 to perfect specific shots and movements. However, once SELF1 acknowledges the perfection of these shots, it needs to withdraw and allow SELF2 to take over during matches.

A few years ago, an 'accomplished' batter approached me for help with range-hitting. He shared that during crucial moments in matches, when he needed to hit sixes, he would start doubting himself and often play hesitant shots, leading to getting caught in the outfield.

During our practice sessions, I asked him to start by tapping the ball instead of hitting it when a tennis ball was thrown at him from 16 yards. This exercise helped him get a feel for the shot and the swing of the bat. In the next set of throws, he had to hit the ball over a marker placed 60 metres away. Only one shot cleared the marker, while the others fell short by 10 to 15 metres.

Then, I introduced a breathing exercise, asking him to take three deep breaths before each ball. The imagery of cool air entering his lungs and cooling down his brain and muscles helped him relax. This time, he managed to hit four out of six balls past the marker. He realized that the two missed shots occurred when he felt off-balance, indicating interference from his conscious mind (SELF1) urging him to exert more power.

(I'd like to remind young batters that practicing strokes blindfolded through shadow practice is an excellent way to achieve balance and develop a comfortable shot.)

Finally, I asked the batter to face cricket balls thrown from 16 yards, following the same process of taking deep breaths and visualizing himself as tall and strong. He focused on releasing power during a smooth downswing and when the bat met the ball. With SELF1 shut down, he comfortably cleared the marker every time.

What made the difference between the first six balls he hit and the final six that he easily dispatched for sixes? It was the shutdown of his conscious mind (SELF1) and the trust placed in his subconscious mind (SELF2). He embraced this experience during his practice sessions and is quickly gaining a reputation as a big hitter.

You too can follow this process and unleash your true potential. Enter the zone, quiet your mind, trust your instincts, and become a confident batter who effortlessly clears boundaries.

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