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'You absolutely need to have the discipline…': Watson's advice on social media usage

30 May, 2024 11:45 IST|Sakshi Post

New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) While IPL 2024 produced towering scores, stellar spells and unforgettable memories for cricket connoisseurs, the tournament also saw numerous instances of players being trolled and abused on their social media handles by anonymous fan accounts.

In this ever-growing digital age, social media has become an inseparable part of cricketers’ lives. A good performance on a particular match day will bring them huge praise from fans. But if they have a bad on-field performance day, then the players are at the receiving end of unsavoury comments from the same fans who cheered for them on the day they do well.

Shane Watson, the former Australia all-rounder, believes the modern-day cricketers need to develop a discipline where they don’t get into reading nasty comments on their social media accounts.

"Not just cricketers, people in general and performers when you're putting yourself, especially in the public domain, one thing is yes, there's huge advantages to social media. I enjoy looking at social media because I love learning things. So, in my feed there's whether it's cooking or coffee or different things about learning and parenting come up in my feed that I love," said Watson in an exclusive interview with IANS, on the sidelines of his new book ‘The Winner’s Mindset’ launched by HarperCollins Publishers India.

"But when it comes to social media around your own performances, you absolutely need to have the discipline to be able to not go into the comments at all. Whether you've had a good day or especially when you've had a bad day, because you've had a good day, people are building up even bigger than what you really are.

"So, you can get a little bit overconfident and ahead of yourself. The downside is you read the comments when you haven't had a good day and there's going to be people piling in on you and your performances, like personal attacks,"

Granted that cricket, with its religion-like status in India, involves high emotions of fans who want to see their favourite teams be on a winning spree. In his book, Watson has written about how reading comments made by faceless trolls can have a huge impact on players putting out their best performances and of techniques which can help them overcome it.

"It's hard enough to perform at your best when it's just you and your own thoughts, and trying to manage those to bring the best version of you every time you step out. If then you've got people who don't know you, have got no understanding of the work and everything that you are putting into bringing the best that you possibly can to be best version of you, then that infiltrates your mindset.

"You start to get the shovel out and start digging a deep hole mentally because of those people who've got no idea about actually who and what you are and what you're doing. So, I recommend to everyone that I talk to around using social media, obviously there's huge benefits to it, but it's a really simple way to not have the downside of it by being very disciplined around not looking and reading the comments.

"If you don't do that, then you just get the upside of social media, which there's a lot, but you don't have the downside, which then can significantly impact your ability to be able to perform because of those fears of failure, doubts, lack of confidence that comes by reading the comments and the negative comments in particular," he explained.

In the book, Watson writes about the next step in cricket’s evolution being training cricketers’ minds to produce and execute skills under pressure. So how do cricketers build their mental skills and get it to help them perform under pressure. Watson, a two-time ODI World Cup and Champions Trophy winner, thinks it should begin from a young age, when their technical and physical skills are developing.

"When they're developing all three together, then it's a perfect storm from a young age. A lot of the time, the mental skills might be learnt indirectly from coaches who tell you specific things. To know why they're so important and powerful, its because when you start to go off track, you don't know why you were doing these things to then just pull yourself back into using and applying these mental skills.

"I've seen it even with some of the greatest players. When things have gone off track, even when they've been dominant for a long period of time, they don't know why these things that they used were so powerful and struggled to be able to get back on track.”

"So, by developing these mental skills and applying these and mastering these from as a teenager in particular, and then going into your 20s, you get closer to mastering your mental skills, which means you can bring the very best version of you from a younger age. Whereas for me, I started that at the age of 34.

"It took a couple of years really of integrating those in every aspect of my life, especially around my training and then performance in game, to be able to get closer to mastering it. So then I knew how to be able to bring the best version of myself and access all my skills.

"So, when you apply those mental skills from a younger age, you don't have the stress, anxiety and worry that goes with performance to bring out the positive side – the best version of you every time when stepping in to perform," he elaborated.

After his playing career ended, Watson has taken up coaching roles which require him to use his mental skills into bringing the best performances out of teams, something which he calls has been fascinating. He worked as the mental skills performance coach with the men’s NSW Blues squad from September 2023 to February 2024, apart from two IPL seasons as an assistant coach with the Delhi Capitals.

Apart from being Australian Cricketers Association President for four years and taking up commentary roles, Watson has coached Quetta Gladiators, who entered the PSL 2024 playoffs this year and will be flying to USA for his second season of coaching the San Francisco Unicorns in the Major League Cricket (MLC) season two in July.

"It's what I absolutely love - being able to be a coach. The core things that I worked on when I was at the Delhi Capitals, and now with the head coaching roles I've had as well, I'd say probably 70% is all to do with mental skills and around mental skills coaching, like setting that environment up at the start so people really understand the mental skills side of us as human beings.

"But then the one-on-ones that I do with players, that's where I really get the most cut through because even the highest performers that I've worked and played with, they had a lot of very good times. But they also had times where they would sabotage their own performance because of having the wrong thoughts at the wrong times.

"Being able to educate people and pass on this information, even if they pick up one or two little things that it might not have to do with their ability to perform at their best, it absolutely could be very relevant to them in dealing with setbacks, failure, to be able to reduce and significantly pull out stress, anxiety and worry that goes with not performing and not getting the results you are looking for.

"So, there's a number of different sides that I tap into as a mental skills coach, because that's the thing that we're chasing - to be able to perform more consistently better and pull out all our skills that we've worked so tirelessly for. But then to deal with failure and not have the stress, anxiety and worries that builds up when we haven't got the results that we're looking for especially holds importance if it becomes over a smaller period of time," he concluded.

Disclaimer: This story has not been edited by the Sakshi Post team and is auto-generated from syndicated feed.

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