Of all the sportsmen, I admire MS Dhoni and Brian Lara the most. Whether India wins or not, I try to hear his words and learn from his temperament. Found this wonderful interview of Dhoni where he talks about the role of mind, and gives advice on how to be a better player. These advice apply as well to other things as to cricket.
What advice would you give to a young player who wants to improve his game?
First and foremost, I would tell him that he must love and enjoy his sport. If he does not enjoy it he would not learn to play the game as quickly or as well as he should. Second, I would tell him to keep things simple. The more he complicates the process the harder it will be for him to improve his game. For example, when he tells himself to watch the ball and play it on its merits, he might have other thoughts like scoring runs or not getting out in his mind.
Those thoughts can break his concentration and prevent him from watching the ball. If he knows that the bowler can bowl an out-swinger, an in-swinger and a good bouncer as well, he has three other things to think about. But the more he thinks about what the bowler might do the more complex and difficult batting becomes.
Third, I would tell him to capitalise on his strengths, improve his weaknesses and recognise his limitations.
A lot of people talk about the problems players face when they have to play in conditions that are foreign to them. For instance, when Indian batsmen who are brought up on slow flat wickets have to play on the fast and bouncy wickets in Australia and South Africa.
When I go to Australia or South Africa I try to be positive and see the visit as a challenge and an opportunity to explore, learn and improve my game. I try not to be negative or worry about the pace and bounce of the wickets or the things that could possibly go wrong.
Learning and improvement take time. When you leave nursery school you don’t expect to go straight into a graduate school. In the following years you slowly improve as a student and when you reach a certain standard you graduate and afterwards go on to higher levels. The same thing happens in sport.
The player should therefore be patient and persistent and he should keep things simple and enjoy his sport. Not only should he enjoy his own performance on the field but he should also get pleasure from sharing his experiences with other players and from creating an atmosphere that helps the guy sitting next to him in the dressing room to perform better.
This is one area where the Indian team is very blessed. The senior players in our team have helped the younger players to learn, develop and perform better. Your individual performance is important but how much better you help your teammate to play better is equally important.
This was just one of the passages from the complete interview. Would try to go through the interview again and again at regular intervals.