WE OFTEN hear it said that a player has the right "attitude" - but what does this mean?
Three myths associated with attitude have been said to be:
* It is either GOOD or BAD
* You can't change it
* IT is less important than technical ability
A winning attitude would contain natural competitiveness, an inner desire and self-discipline, which when combined with control skills (focusing, crease management and quality preparation) create mental toughness.
What other qualities might you look for in a winning mind?
* Feedback hungry - always asking for opinions on performance
* Self-disciplined in lifestyle - organised and on time
* Independent - a leader not a follower, doesn't mind doing their own thing
* Strong work ethic - good in practice and does not waste valuable learning opportunities
* Concerned with detail
* High degree of persistence - plays to the final ball
Successful coaches have to be brave to select a player whose technical skill may not be as high as others. However those with mental toughness must be considered. Too often in British sport have we seen examples where fear of failure has inhibited the ability to win. In trying to win we often have to accept that we may lose but we will learn more about ourselves as players in these circumstances. We must not be frightened of winning.
American golfer Davis Love III has said: "Let your attitude determine your game, don't let the game determine your attitude."
Do you know players whose head drops as soon as something has gone wrong and do you know players who persist in seeking goals despite obstacles and setbacks?
Do you know players in your team who WANT to bowl the last over in a tight game, who WANT to stand under that steepling catch, who WANT to be at the wicket to score the winning runs off the last ball - the answer is probably that you do, but I imagine you also know players who do NOT WANT to step forward in these circumstances.
There are batsmen who reckon that the best way to play the opposition's quick bowler is 'from the other end', there are keepers who 'never keep well on this track - the bounce is too low', there are bowlers who 'never get an lbw when this umpire is standing', and so on.
In general coaches should encourage 'dispositional optimism' whenever possible ie. 'How can you turn this around in your favour', 'What are your controllables?'
Coaches should be bold in selection and think outside the box.
Get comfortable picking the players who lack some technical ability but show a winning attitude and are willing to learn.
It remains a challenge for a coach to pick on attitude, but the coach who does shows he is not frightened to fail in the long-term search for excellence.