A Partridge in a Petri

a Culture
I’ve set out on a journey into the unknown.
Well, it isn’t entirely THE unknown, because it is a Cricket Project and it’s a
Coaching Project – and I work, ply some of my trade, coaching within the game
of cricket. So I’m doing a number of familiar things “wot I luv”.
And, if you can find that in life, it’s a good place
to be.
Yet – journeys into the unknown, for lots of us, can
be filled with trepidation. We are stepping out and engaging with the
unfamiliar. However, when we are familiar with the unfamiliar, comfortable with
new things, then we really get to notice all the amazing changes going on
around us – changes we are helping to bring about.
need to seed
The project is in my home town – where cricket has
been a cinderella sport for quite
some time. There are in excess of a thousand children being educated on our
turf, and the local cricket club is – like all sports clubs around the country –
in constant need of younger personnel, both for their playing numbers and
strength, and for the longevity of the club itself.
There is a need to seed some new culture – so we are
doing it by following a successful model. 
We work with the children starting in their most common
environment (school), and then bring – encourage – those keen to play more
cricket, to the cricket environment at the club.
It’s the same I do with all new clients. I pace them
at their familiar ‘view of the world’ and then lead them to other ‘views of the
world’. It is a simple model for changing perceptions, and as we know, when we
change perceptions we change the world.
In our last session I’d got the lads to work on a
particular shot that involved footwork – and for those of you reading who are
familiar with cricket, we were working on using footwork to come down the
wicket towards the ball, rather than just standing in our stance at the crease
waiting for the ball to arrive.
I talked about how we can sometimes become prisoners of the crease’, by electing to
play all our shots from there. This, for a lot of the time we are batting, is
OK, yet there are times when it can prove particularly awkward for us.
And this, in a way, is the same with life. If we
believe the crease is our safe area, then we’ll view stepping out of it, as stepping
into the unknown. However, for us to play some of the ‘curveballs of life’ in
the best possible way, then we’ll need to come out of the crease and step down
the wicket.
So – it’s a Culture. It’s a culture for our life as
well as a culture for batting. And when we want to embrace a culture, it needs
to be big enough to embrace. And for it to be big enough to do that, we have to
seed it and grow it. 
I think you can get the picture!
the Picture
There are two basic types of shot in cricket –
straight bat shots, where the bat is vertical, and cross bat shots where the
bat is horizontal. The shot we were working on is a straight bat shot.
One of the lads was struggling to hit the ball using
a straight bat, so I ran a few little sub-routines that broke down the
technique for him. He got the hang of them in the micro-detail, but when it
came to put the sub-routines together he still struggled with the ‘bigger
I then asked him if he played any other striking the ball sports and he said he played tennis.
“In tennis,” I said, “you are used to hitting the ball with extended arms, plus
rarely are you playing any shots equivalent to this particular one in cricket.
There are some cricket shots with extended arms, and you’ll be very good at those
because your body is familiar with how you want it to be positioned.”
“Familiar is the key,” I went on, “and WHEN your body gets familiar with
straight bat shots in cricket, loads of new possibilities start to come along.
At the moment things don’t feel so good because you are modelling a technique you
are familiar
with in tennis and mapping it onto a cricket shot where it doesn’t work well.”
It’s a bit like having one road map (of Britain, let’s
say) and then trying to use it elsewhere (travelling in France for instance.) The
moment we realise that there are many more maps than just the one we’ve got,
then our bodies will go and get a map of France, or wherever we are
endeavouring to navigate around.
As I said afterwards to one of the club’s adult
players who had been assisting, the tennis-playing lad can and will very quickly grasp
playing straight bat shots – yet only as quickly as he puts aside his entire Map
of Tennis, and starts to grow his new culture, which I called his Map of Cricket.
Some parts of the maps will be quite similar – but in order for him to grow his
entire range of skills, he’ll need a range of maps and not just one.
out of Jail Free
All change is learning, and all learning is change.
And to embrace change, like that, we need to loosen the chains of the prisons we
have made for ourselves. 
For batting in cricket that might be remaining in the
crease, for tennis it will be something else, for the person looking to get
fitter it might be the excuses they make not to exercise, for the person with
weight issues it might be the Comfort Food Zone. The list is endless.
We are modelling and seeding our cultures from the
moment we are born. It is how we learn and grow.
At some point in our lives we become aware of the
way we are modelling and growing the seeds of our cultures. Then we become
directors of our lives.We then start to become good at our A-game. Yet
in order to be good at our game, we also need to be game – bold – willing to
play our Get Out of Jail Free cards.
So, whilst I’ve never heard of anyone growing a partridge – or any
game bird – in a Petri dish, we CAN all grow pear trees from seed.