What happens when you do X…..? (using Clean Language)

November 26, 2009 Post Comment Uncategorised

A young cricketer I have been coaching for some considerable time has had issues with his batting – not so much technical, because I and other coaches have all coached the technical side of his game and he can play every shot in the book when he chooses to.
No, the problem is shot selection……or so it would seem.

How does the coach tutor shot selection in any sport where the ball is moving towards the shot maker? (A semi-closed skill – given that the ball is moving.) Visible clues and cues, of as high a quality as possible and as early as possible, are the bulk of the incoming sensory information. The ability to filter out other external sensory data is hugely important. Also hugely important to eradicate is random and distractive internal dialogue…the only I/D should be positive, instructive and focussed comments, mostly geared to the next set of physical actions required (keep watching the ball, move your feet etc). But at that key moment of shot selection the critical faculty needs to be as clear of irrelevant data as possible in order to make the best choice. QED.

So here is the framework of his actions…..he seems to make 70-80% “good” choices but because of his associated footwork the “good” percentage goes down to below 20%. In matches he gets out easily, almost irresponsibly it seems, because although he knows what he should be doing he seems to be uncareful and uncaring of doing it.

No one who times the ball as well, or can hit the ball as well as he can, deserves to be given up on – but coaches usually want players to at least help themselves somewhat! And thus it transpires that he developed into a coaches’ abandoned dilemma because of involuntary and uncontrollable foot movements.

I have been working with CLEAN LANGUAGE over recent weeks and so I tried an approach to the dilemma from the CLEAN angle.

We looked at his foot placements relative to a complete range of shots and relative to the level of committed power to those shots.

PW – “So what happens when you play this shot?”
Plyr – “I play with power”
PW – “And where is power?”
Plyr – “In my hands and arms”
PW – “And what kind of power is that power?”
Plyr – “Very powerful”
PW – “And is there anything else about very powerful?”
Plyr – “I put everything into it”
PW – “And what needs to happen for very powerful?”
Plyr – “I need room to play”
PW – “And when very powerful, what happens to foot placement?”
Plyr – “It gets out of the way”
PW – “And when less power, what happens to foot placement?”
Plyr – “Its not so out of the way”
PW – “And is there a relationship between power and foot placement?”
Plyr – “I suppose there is. Less power means foot placement is in a better place. More power means foot placement is in a different place”
PW – “And for foot placement to always be in a better place, what needs to happen for power?”
Plyr – “Power needs to be less”
PW – “And can you control foot placement?”
Plyr – “Probably only if I control power”

We left it there as he was anxious to get back playing against proper bowlers. Over the next and subsequent batting sessions we all noticed a marked change in his power:foot placement ratio and the improvement in outcomes. He was clearly integrating his control over the level of power and how it gave him control over foot placement.

NLP in coaching works extremely well especially in dealing with barriers that are difficult to break down. Using Clean Language effectively opens up even more doors that are “locked” or just stuck.
To find out more about Clean Language go to