Wellbeing and lifestyle balance pays cricketing performance dividends
Wellbeing and lifestyle balance pays cricketing performance dividends


Wellbeing and lifestyle balance pays cricketing performance dividends

Top athletes talk about ‘flow’, a sense of being lost in the moment where everything just seems to come together for peak performance. But what does it take to find that sense of flow, and how do athletes’ commitment to their sport impact their lives?

A pilot study by Macquarie University’s Professor John Sutton, Deputy Director of the Department of Cognitive Science and Associate Professor Doris McIlwain from the Department of Psychology shows that a combination of mental toughness, sensitivity and resilience are key to peak performance in professional cricketers.

“We wanted to explore the role of emotions in helping professional athletes to consciously and strategically modify their game plan, as well as look at how the stress of being a professional athlete affects their lives and their ability to perform at their peak,” explains Associate Professor McIlwain.

They worked with the Australian Cricketers’ Association on elite athletes playing at both national and state levels.

“The cricketers aspiring to play at an international level face challenges over work/life balance and the stress associated with aspiring to reach the top, without necessarily the income or support mechanisms available to international players,” she says.

Consuming passions

The researchers found that on average 61 percent of cricketers’ time is given to sport, and as their involvement in state level cricket increases, they have more cricket-playing friends, with dwindling numbers of outside friends.

“This is important because having outside friends is linked to healthy and resilient attitudes to peak performance and skilled regulation of emotion,” Associate Professor McIlwain says.

“While players are individuals and their response to stress is based on a combination of factors, working with them to improve overall wellbeing through broader support networks and identifying coping strategies will help them stay at their peak for longer and transition well into post-game careers,” she adds.

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