Cricketer free from bowling yips

Motion in the dark

Photo by Mohammad Jobaed Adnan

“An action that at one time seems easy and flowing can suddenly become a nightmare”

Paul is captain of an over 60’s county cricket team who regularly plays on the weekend. He is the all time leading wicket taker at his club.

The 4th game of the season he got an attack of the yips. He suddenly found it difficult to literally release the ball. The muscles in his arm were tense tight, he lost his rhythm, timing and feel.  For the next few games he seemed okay until the 10th and 11th game of the season when the yips returned. Unable to control the muscles in his arm and hand he sprayed the ball everywhere, with his confidence shattered, *Paul to his embarrassment had to be replaced.

The fear of the unknown

It got so bad that he couldn’t even bowl properly in practice. Paul would bat very little, so bowling was very important for him – without it he would have to stop playing.

The joy of taking wickets and being an essential part of the team, was replaced with the fear of the unknown and the dread he could feel in the pit of his stomach every time he was about the bowl.

‘Yips’ is a cruel condition that sabotages a players body – often when they least expect it – an action that at one time seems easy and flowing can suddenly become a nightmare.

From my experience of working with struggling players from a variety of sports, the problem at times I’m sure seems insurmountable. Conventional ways of solving this problem – more practise, changing grips, and stances etc. often do not provide the solution.

Commonly this isn’t a mechanical problem, it’s often the ‘trauma’ of past experiences stored in our mind/ body that constantly trigger the fight, flight or freeze  response to stress.

One of the key elements to providing a solution is to discover and determine the negative turning point. When does a routine action become so complicated?

Past bad experiences  

With Paul that initial experience during the 4th game of the season when he found it difficult to release the ball was the key. With his muscles being tight tense, losing his rhythm, feel for the ball would have registered with that part of his subconscious ever alert, scanning for danger.

Paul seemed okay for a few games, until the 10th, 11th game when the yips returned. Unable to control the muscles in his arm and hand he sprayed the ball everywhere, with his confidence shattered, Mark to his embarrassment had to be replaced.

Understandably following that game Paul was unable to play and wondered if he would ever be able to enjoy playing the game he loved?

He heard about the work I do and got in touch.

It’s not safe

The accumulation of stress/ bad experiences often results in the underlying program (that runs our lives) developing faults which lead to poor performance. The negative thinking triggers the fight, flight or freeze response in our body. Classic symptoms are tightness in your chest/muscles, shortness of breath and moisture build-up in the palm of your hands as your body doesn’t feel it’s safe. The result is the fear of poor performance means you begin to struggle to release the ball. The ‘freeze’ response literally takes control of the muscles in your body.

Each day you are almost stuck in the past as the negative programme of feelings, thoughts, emotions and expectations take control and create a continuous loop.

The turnaround

By releasing the destructive negative vibration from a past memory/ experience helps calm the body’s nervous system and allows your body to feel safe.

I began to help Paul by using Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) to help release the trauma of those past experiences, combined with performance psychology to help create a more positive outlook.

Following our first session he played cricket for the first time in a while and felt a little better –  still work to do, but able to play. Over the next few weeks we continued to work on releasing any of the ‘interference’ that triggered the fight or fight response. Paul played another game on a Sunday, felt a little rusty, but much better, wanted to bowl purposely long backswing and follow through – run up trust himself and just let the ball go.

I spoke to him on the Thursday

He played the match felt good and when it came to the crucial part of the game took two wickets and won the match!

Paul was going to be 65 this year and wanted to finish the season on a high – and he did!

The key is that we are able to release the faults in the underlying programme that runs us. By identifying and removing the internal negative chatter, we can relax the part of the brain that triggers stress and allow more positive feelings to flow freely.

What’s your story? If you’d like help, contact me for a free initial 20min consultation at sean@confidenceontap.com or alternatively call me on 07818851643. We can discuss your challenges and formulate a solution. From there we can arrange a one-to-one session on Zoom, Skype, Facetime or Phone. I look forward to speaking with you soon!

*Paul is not his real name

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