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Momentum by Adam Hollioake 27 Aug 2011

Whilst watching the recent test series between England and India and having watched and played cricket for 30 years I struggled to work out what was transpiring before me....Not the fact that England were winning, but more the way they were winning so easily... Here was one of the greatest batting line ups ever assembled in the history of test cricket, the number 1 team in the world and very recent winners of the 2011 World Cup, surely not even the most optimistic English supporter would have predicted a 4-0 whitewash to England.

After much thinking and analysing I keep coming back to one thing and that is momentum. It is the one thing that shouldn't play a part in the modern professional game, but so clearly does. When I say shouldn't appear in the modern game I don't mean that as a slant on the modern game...but with all the sports psychologists and the speed with which the game is moving forward it is a surprise that it still plays such a big role in sport. As cricketers we are trained to play each ball as it comes, to forget what has gone on before and just focus on the next ball. Other aspects of cricket are improving, fielding, fitness, nutrition, biomechanics are all improving at an alarming rate, yet the one area where I feel there is the most room for improvement is in the area of sports psychology... I feel there is still a stigma attached to it, there are still players from my era and before who are uncomfortable with the thought of being told they are mentally weak in some way. I guess it is similar to the dark cloud that is depression that hangs over our society, albeit a common and acknowledged mental illness a large percentage of men deny it at all costs, and therefor live with the problem instead of the obvious remedies that are available.

So what is momentum? Momentum is that team feeling, atmosphere, belief that you are not capable of winning and the other team is all over you. Momentum is that feeling of elation and feeling of being unbeatable that spreads throughout a team when you are winning. Is it avoidable? No...I don't think so...Is it able to be controlled? Yes I believe so....Logic will tell you that if you are standing at the top of your run up and are running in to bowl a ball, all that has gone on before is irrelevent, good or bad! However somehow it enters our phsycy...
So how do we avoid this as a team/business? To me it has to come from the top...It has to be a leader that creates the momentum...there are occassions where individual brilliance can do it as well....A couple that spring to mind is Botham's Ashes in 1981..and the great partnership between Dravid and VVS Laxman in India vs Australia in 2002. Leaders are able to give their team the belief that they are capable of winning, to show his/her team that the path to victory is achievable no matter what has transpired before hand.

An example that springs to mind is the recent GFC (Global Financial Crisis), now by no means do I claim to be an economical or financial analyst, but surely what has transpired before us in recent years affects the thinking of investors/institutions moving forward tomorrow? Businesses and families remain fearful over what may occur in the near future based on what has gone on in the recent past....Yes their is an element in business that decisions don't have to happen tomorrow...meaning as a business you can choose not to invest or can wind back production etc....but in sport that game goes on and it was not an option for the Indian team to pack up their kits and go home when the results weren't as they pleased.

In my next article I will go into how I feel teams/individuals can avoid being on the wrong side of momentum and create the euphoria of it when it's all going your way...

Thanks for reading

Adam Hollioake