Diaries could help professional cricketers overcome negative experiences
The research study, published this month in Leisure/Loisir (the Journal of the Canadian Association for Leisure Studies), explored ten elite male cricketers' experiences of keeping a daily reflective diary for one month during the competitive season. The semi-professional and county cricket level sportsmen were then interviewed to find out if the diary had helped them to cope with both on-field performance pressures and also wider life challenges.
The research, conducted by Dr Thomas Fletcher, Senior Lecturer in the Carnegie Faculty at Leeds Metropolitan University, and Adam Wilson, a former Psychology graduate from the Faculty, revealed that diary keeping was an effective opportunity to reflect more openly about past performances, thereby enhancing one's sense of self. Diary keeping also acted as a form of release that allowed the cricketers to progress as well as allowing them to discover personal patterns of success that increased the likeliness of optimum performance.
Dr Fletcher explains: "The sport of cricket has a history of its players suffering from mental health issues. The psychological study of cricket and, in particular, the attendant demands of participating at an elite level has not previously received rigorous academic attention.
"The study aimed to assess how valuable qualitative diaries can be and our research shows that there are a number of benefits of keeping a reflective diary and that this method is a worthwhile psychological intervention. The benefits of diary keeping include: a heightened sensibility for personal reflection; offering valuable opportunities for cathartic release; and facilitating participants to overcome negative experiences."
The research has demonstrated that writing has the potential to produce individual benefits even when participants are reflecting on their most mundane experiences. This is significant because previous research has tended to focus on individuals reflecting on particularly painful and traumatic rather than arguably more 'everyday'" situations. As mental control strategies are significant contributors to successful sporting performances the research also tentatively suggests that diary keeping could positively affect athletes' performance levels as well.
The study concludes that, whilst the continuous entry of experiences into a diary may not be sufficient to bring about profound alterations in an individual's life, diary keeping does offer an array of significant benefits within real life scenarios, which have their own significance, and therefore, should not be underestimated.
As one of the participants of the study explains: "Between then [beginning of research] and now, I've definitely relaxed. I think the diary process has helped me with that. I don't think it's changed my life, but I think it was beneficial. And by beneficial I mean mentally . The diary helped me put life and sport into perspective. It has helped me understand that the sport is only part of my life, and not the definer of it, if you get me?"