On Form

On Form : The Times Book of the Year

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What is being on form? How does it relate to feeling 'in the zone'?

Are these states in the lap of the gods, a matter of which side of the bed we got out of that morning? Or is there anything we can do to make their arrival more likely?

In this fascinating book, former England cricket captain and psychoanalyst Mike Brearley examines many of the elements of being in and out of form across a number of different disciplines - not only in cricket and psychoanalysis but also in finance, music, philosophy, medicine, teaching, tree surgery and drama.

Drawing on his own experiences, both on and off the field, Brearley describes various states of mind, from the conscious determination involved in training and practice through to that almost spiritual state of being 'inspired'. To achieve any level of form requires us to be able to hold different tensions in mind, and to tolerate both ambivalence and ambiguity. Neither form nor creativity can be guaranteed - Brearley illustrates in depth the frequent ways we lose form - though understanding, in a full sense, enables us to make drastic loss of form less likely.

Perceptive and engaging, On Form is an exploration of the benefits and risks of being on form and can help us all reflect on the range of conditions that block or liberate us.


'A work of real substance, valued for its practicality and its precision as well as its balanced humanity and insight' Hilary Mantel

'The best book on captaincy, written by an expert' Mike Atherton

'A subtle, wise book' Ed Smith

'The man-management skills demonstrated by Brearley's handling of Ian Botham remain an inspiration' Nasser Hussain

'The Art of Captaincy was, and is, an outstanding book. I would add only three words which I always bear in mind. Keep it simple' Richie Benaud
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Product details

  • Hardback | 416 pages
  • 159 x 239 x 34mm | 822g
  • Little, Brown
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1408707357
  • 9781408707357
  • 156,018

Review quote

Epic journey of a book -- Dominic Lawson * Sunday Times * This is a book that offers insight not just into cricket, but into every walk of life; not just into the state of being on form itself, but into everything that surrounds it; and not just into the reader, but into the author himself * All Out Cricket * Interesting * New Statesman * Fascinating * Choice * Accessible -- William Joll * The Oldie * Endlessly curious and unapologetically intellectual * The Times * Engaging -- Martin Chilton * Daily Telegraph * Fascinating -- Ivo Tennant * The Cricketer *
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About Mike Brearley

Mike Brearley is a retired English first-class cricketer who captained Cambridge University, Middlesex, and England. He was awarded the OBE in 1978, and his extraordinary galvanising of Ian Botham in the 1981 Ashes series is regarded as one of the greatest feats of sporting psychology of all time. Since his retirement from professional cricket he has pursued a full-time career as a psychoanalyst, serving as President of the British Psychoanalytical Society 2008-10. He was the President of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in 2007-08. He is also a motivational speaker, and has written on cricket and the psychology of sport for the Observer, and most recently The Times. He is the author of The Art of Captaincy, which is widely considered to be the definitive book on the subject. A 30th Anniversary edition of The Art of Captaincy was published by Macmillan in 2015.
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