Many professionals have suffered from mental health issues over the years including Jonathan Trott, Andrew Flintoff, Marcus Trescothick and Sarah Taylor to name but a few. However, it has only been in the last few years that mental health in cricket has been recognised more widely.
Earlier this year, I had a zoom call during the nationwide lockdown with Harry Rice (Founder of Lagom Mind) and Mark Boyns (Founder of Opening Up Cricket) to understand what individuals can do to keep positive during a time of grave uncertainty. A lot was discussed and some really good advice was given. One of the key things that I took away from the session is the idea of not putting too much pressure on yourself. As cricketers, we are naturally competitive and no matter how experienced we are, we want to perform well. The best players in the world can’t always perform well and it is ok to have a bad game or even a few bad games in a row (which I have had before!). Yes it can be frustrating but the main aim for those we coach is to ensure they share our love for the game and enjoy themselves when they play.
As cricketers, our competitiveness is an innate trait in our personality and can result in us putting a lot of pressure on ourselves in other aspects of our life. Harry was clear when he said that you should not put too much pressure on yourself or compare yourself to others. Everyone is different and operates well at different times of the day, year, week etc. It is also ok to have some days where you don’t achieve much. We aren’t robots after all!
As we all know, cricket is very much a team game and if we have learnt anything from this pandemic it is that having a supportive community is vital. Mark mentioned that messaging a teammate to reminisce about a game or memory can go a long way. You would be surprised at how much of an impact you have on someone’s feelings by spending 20 seconds typing out a text to them. You could simply just be asking how they are or remembering fun times you have had together in the past.
Mental health is just as important as physical health and it is crucial to remember that you don’t know what is happening in someone’s life regardless of how you think they feel. I will leave you with Mark’s closing words…
‘Be kind to yourself as well as others around you’