Cricketers turn to sports psychologist

Somerset County Cricket Club have enlisted the help of a sports psychologist in a bid to end its losing streak in finals. The Daily Telegraph reports that Somerset's players have been working with John Pits as they hope to distance themselves from the 'perennial choker' label.

Since 2009, the club has lost all five of their final appearances - and Mr Pits was brought in to work with Marcus Trescothick's squad on the psychological side of the sport.

Trescothick, the former England opening batsman, said he has always regarded this aspect of the game as being highly important, adding he has worked with John Pits on a personal basis for 18 months prior to the club recruiting him fully.

"I'm not going to divulge in detail what he has been doing to help us," he told the newspaper, "but I believe his input and his presence ...  will be hugely beneficial," the player went on to note."

Chartered Psychologist Carole Seheult, who has worked with county cricket teams herself, comments:

"Reports that Somerset are looking toward a sport psychologist for help in boosting their game and ending its losing streak in finals, has appeared widely in the press. Such an approach aimed at reversing a string of poor performances has been recognised by individuals, teams, coaches and psychologists over the past twenty years. This was formalised in 1998 by the American Sport Psychologist, Alan S Goldberg when he published his popular book, Sports Slump-Busting: 10 Steps to Mental Toughness and Peak Performance.  

"Analysing a slump, features suggesting a loss in form characteristically may include losses of self-confidence, a loss in the capacity to focus on the process of the performance and a loss in the ability to quickly rebound from mistakes, setbacks and bad breaks. Other noticeable changes may include the loss of the sense of challenge, inability to achieve a sense of 'flow' and difficulties in remaining relaxed yet completely focused on the task in hand.

"Goldberg’s book presents a systematic approach to reversing these changes and rebuilding successful performance beginning with the necessity of ruling out non-mental causes of the perceived decline. This would be important in Somerset’s case as several players have been dogged by injuries which may not only directly affect players on the field but may also undermine expectations of success. This provides a timely reminder that drops in performance may not always be 'all in the mind'!

"Mental strategies use cognitive-behavioural approaches that set out to re-establish self-control, attacking and erasing feelings of powerlessness and helplessness, thus stopping the downward slide.  Further steps include dealing with fears, developing positive images, nurturing resilience and mental toughness, setting goals and re-building essential self-confidence.  In Somerset’s case the development of a championship focus where the team see themselves as winners will be a key aspect."