Professional cricketer Josh Poysden discusses preparing to bowl to Jos Buttler in a T20 versus playing golf when family pride is on the line

Playing golf under pressure isn’t quite the same for me as playing cricket under pressure. Inevitably after five years of playing professional cricket – and plenty of time working to get there – my mindset is finely tuned to ensure I am giving myself the best possible chance of succeeding when I step out onto the pitch. It would be fair to say that this isn’t always the case in my golf, where sometimes my mind can be led astray.

If someone tells you not to think of purple elephants, what’s the first thing you think of? Purple elephants.

This is true in golf, where consciously only thinking about avoiding an action can often lead to that action occurring.

For example, using a personal experience of playing golf under pressure, standing on the 7th tee at Barnbougle Dunes, in Tasmania, with its tiny, postage-stamp style green, and focusing only on not missing the green, inevitably led to missing the green.

In cricket, whether I am bowling at Jos Buttler in front of a big crowd, or bowling in the nets by myself, I have trained myself to focus on only what I do want to do – bowling a good leg break or whatever delivery I have decided on.

These mental routines go hand in hand with physical routines. In golf, I enjoy playing at a quick pace, but in cricket I have a very deliberate pre-ball process. This involves techniques such as having a deep breath before I start my run up, and I’ll stick to my routine for every ball no matter what is happening around me.

You only have to look at JB Holmes’ routine to see that these processes are evident in professional golf under pressure.

Cricket has a reputation for ‘sledging’ on the pitch, where players will talk to opposition players to try and put them off. An example of this is Steve Waugh’s Australia team referring to this practice as “mental disintegration”.

In my experience, this isn’t actually that prevalent in professional cricket, and is over-hyped by fans and media.
I wish I could say the same about my golf! Most of my golf is friendly, and not very competitive, but there are two outliers.

Golf under pressure

I mentioned the esteemed Turkeys Jug in a previous column, and alongside this I also compete for the Poysden PlateThis is a match play competition between myself and my father, who happens to be a better golfer than me and in his prime was off a two handicap.

We also carefully handpick our selected team-mates, with mental fortitude being a key characteristic that we look for in potential players and ability to play decent golf under pressure.

I don’t know whether it’s because he has failed to ever get his name on the illustrious (dinner) plate – generously donated by a hotel in Portrush back in 2018 – but the mind games are prevalent when we get into the heat of battle. That may manifest itself in various ways, such as little comments about my swing, or being tactical about giving putts.

I wonder if in this year’s edition there will be a new plan of action for his team, as the less said about the lead that they gave away at Pennard last year, the better.

Josh Poysden is a professional cricketer for Yorkshire CCC. He’s also a keen golfer and has a particular interest in golf course architecture. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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