Thursday, 26 October 2017

The Yips - spin bowling

The Yips                                                           10 views 9/4/18

Miriam Webster dictionary defines the Yips as...

Definition of yips

: a state of nervous tension affecting an athlete (such as a golfer) in the performance of a crucial action

  • had a bad case of the yips on short putts

If you ever watch wrist-spinners - even Shane Warne, you'll see them occasionally get it wrong, the less experienced they are, the more frequently you'll see it, especially if they're under pressure for their place in the team. In club cricket it's the same.

Universally, there seems to be a perception that if you're a wrist-spinner you're going to be expensive, you're going to drag the ball down, you're going to get your line wrong and you're going to go for 4's and 6's. Unfortunately this ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy, no-one else in the team believes in your ability and it reduces your confidence. You end up being nervous before your spell, you want to bowl, but your aware that you're going to be thrown the ball soon and your anxiety levels grow. You become so concerned that you start to focus on the fear rather than analysing the batsman and his strengths and weaknesses. You end up being thrown the ball, you've got no plan other than wanting to land the ball on the cut strip. You approach the crease and you're thinking 'Do I run in, do I walk in - what's going to work'? You're asked...

"What field do you want Dave"? You mumble back something to the affect of...
"I don't know.... just a standard field" You reply, momentarily you buy a few seconds as you move people around. Your mouth is so dry it feels like bottom of a Budgie cage, your arm pits are sweating and your hands are clammy. You stand at the top of your crease and forget all the advice from Stuart MacGill and hold on to the ball like there's no tomorrow. You don't dare throw it from hand to hand like you would do normally, you just know you're going to drop it and then probably as you try and pick it up, you'll do something dumb like fall over and face plant just for good measure! Instead, you stand there squeezing the ball so tight the seams are starting to unravel, everybody is watching you - your whole team, the batsmen - even the umpire and the bloke on strike are looking over your shoulders at you. Normally there's no crowd, but you glance towards the pavilion and somehow, the whole world and his brother seem to have turned up, in the surrounding playing fields kids have stopped playing football, girls have stopped gawping at their phones, everyone is now looking at you...

You start your approach to the crease, you stutter and you know right from that point this is going to be tragic, you bound - screaming at yourself in your head... "Get side on! Get side on! Get side on"! You land over the popping crease, your arm comes over and you try and release the ball. The umpire is just about to call no-ball for the foot over the line as he watches the ball come out of your hand and loop up into the sky, with more up and than length. He as well as you and the other 80,000 people watching, hold their breath to watch the ball stop going up and to start dropping. Within a moment everyone knows that the ball is going to come down and land with a thud somewhere between Silly Mid-on and Mid-Wicket.
"No ball" he calls, his call cuts through the deathly silence, you hear the scorers pen make its mark in the score book.
"Whoops" you say, trying to make a joke of it. "Sorry lads" you follow up with.
"Come on Dave - line and length - keep it simple".

You try again and again it's equally tragic - again you don't get it on the cut strip. The 3rd attempt it might have landed on the cut strip as you tried to bowl it slower and it was on target in that it was heading for the batsman... right in his slot and he smacks it for 6 over mid-off.
Searching for the ball buys you a couple of minutes and your captain comes over and offers some advice and words of wisdom, you come back with...
"Lee, last night I was practicing... I'm landing it on a mat 12"x12" one in every 4 balls and turning it massively, I've got the Yips".
Scott Boswell (cricket)
It took Leicestershire paceman Scott Boswell 10 years to get over one over. In a 2001 final, he lost the plot and bowled eight wides in that over and was cut by the county soon after. The Guardian sought him out years later.
"I just couldn't let go of the ball. I wanted to get on with it, so I began to rush. The more I panicked, the more I rushed."
Scott Boswell Youtube.
 Apparently left-arm orthodox spinners suffer from the Yips more than wrist-spinners it seems, I've gone through it a couple of times, the last one was in the 2015 season. Reading the espncricinfo article above made sense to me because for me 2015 was an injury prone season where I was re-modelling my bowling action. These are common features associated with the Yips.

The thing that helped me was I scrapped trying to do the new thing with the bowling action and returned to my usual bowling action. The other thing was the support from the whole team, they let me bowl, knowing full well I was going to go for a few runs and or totally get it wrong as per the description above and yet not visually or verbally show any sense of anything other than support. But the clincher was the captain suggesting that I open the bowling. Usually I'm brought on when there's a couple of really set - good batsman, that the pace bowlers haven't been able to see off. This is usually around about the 20-23rd over in a 50 over game. But against an opener who's looking to stay in and do their job I had far more of an easier time and knew this was likely to be the case. The other thing was I didn't have the time in the field to worry about whether I'd be able to bowl or not, it was straight in - no time to think - just bowl and it worked. The other thing that was suggested was that if it did go wrong I'd only be bowled for the one over with the option of coming on again later. I think I bowled three overs and went for about 5 runs an over with no wides or no-balls. The following week I was fine again and okay for the rest of the season.

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