Snape plays mind game with cricketers

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(Jeremy Snape) (Jeremy Snape)

SYDNEY: With the huge amount of cricket being played these days psychology has come to play a big part in keeping the players focused on the game and away from other distractions which can be many when you are playing in front of a full house.

In that aspect former England cricketer turned psychologist Jeremy Snape is playing an important role in keeping the Sri Lankan players purely focused on the World Cup and nothing else.

“Psychology has been a huge part of cricket with the pressures and the expectations and the television it feels like there’s no hiding place, everything is being measured, everything’s being filmed, everything’s being analysed by all the former captains around the world so it can feel a really pressurised place,” said Snape. “But underneath all that players still have their best game to play and part of my job is to strip away a lot of the noise on the outside and make them focus on just their best game - what is it that they can do today to deliver their role for the team and be the best they can be every day.”

One Lankan cricketer to benefit from Snape’s presence in the dressing room is Dinesh Chandimal who has been short of confidence and struggling to regain the form that he showed at the start of his career.

Against Australia at the SCG we saw a totally different Chandimal taking on the Aussie bowlers and leading Sri Lanka’s big run chase. Unfortunately for him and his team he suffered a hamstring injury at the height of his innings and was forced to retire after scoring a superb 52 off 24 balls. His retirement eventually ended Sri Lanka’s chances and lost by 64 runs.

“Chandimal is a very talented player with lots of expectations and that can be a burden,” said Snape. “We all know how good he can be but it’s about creating consistency. If you want consistent performance you need a consistent approach. If you want a consistent approach you need a consistent thinking style. He’s been very good at working hard on a routine between balls where thinks the same things, he asks himself the same question - what does the team need, how do I play according to my strengths, how do I stay calm for this next ball. All these things we worked one on one together.

“He’s worked very hard at it just like playing the pull shot or the cut shot it’s a mental skill that can work through your innings. It was great to see him playing so well against Australia. A real shame that he got injured I think he would have won the game,” he said.

Snape initially worked with the Sri Lanka team during their ODI series at home against England and was reassigned for 12 days for the World Cup. The work he did with the players turned out to be successful that Sri Lanka decided to extend his stay till the end of the World Cup.

“Sri Lankans got its own unique culture and the language, some people speak very good English and some people not so much, so with some people who don’t speak English I can work with one of the senior players or coaches to interpret the words,” said Snape. “It’s really just spending a little bit of time to understand each player. Some people need to be really focused and fired up to play the best, some people really need to be very relaxed and calm and have fun. It’s getting to know the players and understanding how they prepare best and making sure we create those routines all the time irrespective of what’s going on and for them to know what their best preparation looks like and they are able to do that all the time.

“It’s a mixture of working one on one with the players and coaches and also working with some group sessions doing low presentation on decision-making or handling pressure or working together as a team just some little tours and techniques that the players can use when they are actually playing.

“One of the things that I’ve tried to do with the team is share some of the knowledge. The Sri Lankan team is very respectful certainly the senior players. I am really keen to share the knowledge within teams that is a key to part of a high performing team because that sustains the success.

“I’ve interviewed Kumar (Sangakkara) and Sanath (Jayasuriya) for the players and asked them about their thinking, asked them about their nerves, when they failed, when they built really strong innings, asking more advice they got and how they kept a balanced life. All these things are so important for the young players. If we didn’t create that opportunity they probably wouldn’t have that conversation because the young players wouldn’t ask those questions.
“We done it in a group over a team meal and the players have loved it. I asked the questions in English the answers are often in Sinhalese and it’s been very strong. The players have been very receptive to what I’ve said and everyone is fascinated by the mental side of this sport,” he said.

Snape, a former England one-day cricketer holds a masters degree in sports psychology and previously had worked with Shane Warne in the IPL team Rajasthan Royals, with South Africa, with Premier League football managers in the UK and done a lot of corporate work in the UK and in Formula One.

“It’s the same thing how do we simplify things? The game is quite complicated how do we simplify it because we want players to make one simple decision, commit 100 percent not be confused and not commit to anything. You are not confused to bowl or not know how to commit to that shot,” Snape said.

“I played for 19 years and looking through it my success came from a great mind set and my failures came from a poor mindset. I was my own worst enemy the voice in my head was louder than any crowd. I knew it was important but I didn’t know what to do. So I started to read about it and found psychology and went and did the masters degree at Loughborough University, UK. As a coach I can help batters and bowlers but my real passion is to glue that together with the mental skills and that makes the difference.”

Last modified on Friday, 13 March 2015 18:00

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