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The present study examined elite cricket batsmen’s experiences of sledging to establish its frequency, effects, and the coping strategies used by players. Sledging in cricket is the practice whereby players seek to gain an advantage by insulting or verbally intimidating the opposing batter. Semistructured interviews were conducted on 10 elite batsmen. Interviews were transcribed and content analysis was conducted to elucidate themes. Several similar factors were reported for both the frequency of sledging and its effectiveness, the most influential being the period of innings, state of the game, and in-game pressure. The majority of the reported effects of sledging were negative, most notably, an altered perception of self, an altered state of mind, decreased batting ability, and over arousal. Numerous associated coping strategies were mentioned, the most frequently used being variations of self-talk. Other noteworthy coping strategies included routines, external support, showing frustration, avoidance coping, and relaxation techniques. Overall, players perceived that sledging had a substantial effect on a batter and their level of performance.
The authors are with the Department of Social Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire, England.