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    November 19

  • 04:49 PM

Building team spirit in cricket

Dawn-Marie Layne,

Added 19 September 2012

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An in-depth look at the concept of motivation over the last six months has revealed that Barbados cricketers possess high levels of motivation with regards to participation in their sport. Players expressed a deep love for their sport and huge respect for their predecessors who represented the country. In a study – A Barbados Cricket Motivational Model – conducted by the author, five contributing factors were discovered to have a huge impact on the development of motivation in Barbados cricket: culture, pride, passion, performance and recognition. It was recognized that most cricketers begin playing cricket in their primary school years, when external influences such as the family and the community environment encouraged their involvement in the sport at a tender age. This and the “rich history” surrounding Barbados cricket served as the initial motivation as younger players admired and dreamed of emulating the former West Indian conquerors. Out of this came the need to experience this esteemed “cricketer” status and the plan to represent Barbados was put into effect, with some players receiving their first national cap at the Under-13 level and continuing successfully to Under-19. Throughout this time, the childhood dream of playing for the West Indies became even more realistic. This passion comes from the love of the sport and is the main form of intrinsic (internal) motivation for these players as they expressed high levels of patriotism when representing Barbados. Their performances are delivered with the people of Barbados in mind. Excelling is also something that drives them and high levels of self-belief, along with external positive reinforcement, give them the confidence that they have what it takes to perform well. Even though success has been seemingly out of reach, players still believe they have what it takes to achieve their goal of continuing to play for Barbados and going on further to represent the West Indies. The only apparent source of extrinsic (external) motivation is the need to be recognized for their good performances. This yearning stems from the need to make a breakthrough on the world stage and have their names written in the history books, as well as to have cricket accepted as an elite sport and to gain respect from fellow sportsmen. Despite the many positives, Barbados players are faced with many challenges in the team environment, team captaincy and team cohesion being two of them. The lack of team cohesion and the weaknesses in team captaincy have led to a breakdown in camaraderie and have resulted in a form of intra-team rivalry. This hampers the achievement of their overall goal, which is to become one of the most successful teams in the Caribbean region. Players are individuals and that is something that has to be respected. They have also set their individual goals, but it is my belief that those individual goals should fall in line with the team’s goals, whatever they may be. The concept of a “competition within a competition” is not new to the sport of cricket, as players are seen to compete with each other at the club level for selection to the Barbados team and in regional tournaments for West Indies selection. In this setting, a decrease in relatedness (connection) between team members can occur that may cause players to withdraw and separate themselves; this type of behaviour is unhealthy in the team environment and can have severe negative impacts. If players are taught to outshine others or are singled out as being the ones with “potential”, it is no wonder the sport continues to be a “dog eat dog” contest. Concerning team captaincy, it was strongly indicated that a team captain should possess certain qualities and that outstanding performance should not be used as the central factor in determining who should be skipper. Leadership skills and personality attributes are also very vital. With high levels of intrinsic motivation uncovered, I would recommend the assessment and profiling of all potential Barbados players. When player and team goals are in sync, there is no doubt in my mind that there will be an increase in team performance. This will also lead to greater understanding of the players and greater understanding of the team by extension, and with that the resuscitated unity and brotherhood that we so dearly need. In spite of the numerous hindrances, players continue to believe that Barbados has the best team in the region, but it is time to stop living in the past and look forward to solutions and triumph in the future. There is no doubt that the talent is there but something vital is missing. I believe that gaining a greater understanding of these processes with the use of sport psychology is the best way forward. Understanding how these players feel and gaining insight into their thoughts and actions can help us to develop and prepare for any challenges that we may be faced with. The people of Barbados also need to be made aware and become more empathetic in trying times. Cricket means the world to these players and it is through this sport that the rest of the world identifies with us. After all, Barbados has and will continue to produce some of the best cricketers in the world. • Dawn-Marie Layne is the director of D.M.L. Sport Psychology Services, graduate member of the BPS (Sport and Exercise Division), a Stage 1 accredited sport psychology consultant and has represented the Barbados women’s cricket team. Email dmlsportpsych@gmail.com.

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