In May 2010 Lewis Hatchett achieved his childhood ambition and acheived a professional career in sport as a cricketer for Sussex County Cricket Club. Lewis went on to have a successful six-year career where he took 72 first-class wickets from 27 games. But as a child his ambition seemed an impossible dream when his parents were told he would never be able to play sport because he was born with a rare condition called Poland Syndrome.
Here Lewis outlines how he overcame the physical and mental challenges of Poland Syndrome to become a cricketer through perseverance, working hard and training smart but also highlighting the sacrifices required.
What does it take to forge a professional career in sport?
Being different and sacrifice, without a doubt it takes sacrifice. You will have to choose to do things that you potentially do not want to do especially when friends are doing things you really want to. For example, making the difficult decision to not go out with your friends so you can train at your sport. It takes doing things that others are not willing to do as much in order to make it. Being the same as everyone else means like you’ll be like everyone else!
What role can team-mates play in achieving success in sport?
Some of my best coaches were my team-mates. I would ask them what they thought I was doing well and where they thought my strengths were first and my weaknesses second. I was spending so much time with them and I felt comfortable asking them.
Having high technical skills is important but what other areas are important for young athletes to focus on?
Motivation – Look at some of the best in the world. Find out what they did, how you could potentially see similarities with yourself. Finding a role model really helps, once you’ve seen someone else do it that came from where you did, you can see that It can be done.
Confidence – Understand that this is natural and will go up and down. Write down the things that you do well or believe are your strengths. Whether that’s a skill, a personality trait, or a physical ability. Knowing what you do well is crucial to keeping confidence when things aren’t going your way
Fitness – Work on your fitness as much as you can, whether it’s strength, cardio, recovery, flexibility, balance. The best sportspeople in the world are incredible athletes. The fitter and stronger you are, the easier your sport becomes! Also, learn to look after your mind, train your mind to deal with pressure and challenges.
Nutrition – You are what you eat as they say. The right nutritional diet is so important and sets you up for everything. If you are eating unhealthily, do not be surprised if things do not go your way. Look after your body and your body will look after you! It also has a big influence on how our minds work and deals with the challenges that we face.
What is your advice for young athletes attending a sports trial?
Ask questions, show a good attitude. You are not going to be the finishing product right now, so show you have the attitude that you want to get better. Coaches will love that.
After 6 year as a professional cricketer, Lewis was forced to retire through injury at the age of 26. Lewis love for sport and performance continues and this has helped recently launch The Sport Yogi which is aimed to improve performance of those in sport and exercise.
As a young boy to be told he could not play sport to becoming a professional sportsperson just goes to show any young student with aspirations to become a cricketer or any other sport that what seems impossible can be possible.
For the full story view his story ‘Conquering Talent’