#118 – Lewis Hatchett | My Story
After more than a hundred episodes, Lewis shares his life story and journey as a professional cricket player. Born with Poland syndrome and told by doctors to avoid sports, he shares the highs and lows of growing up, training to become a professional cricket player, and how yoga and mindfulness saved him.
THIS EPISODE AT A GLANCE
[02:17] Lewis’ Story and Condition
[12:28] Training with the Pros
[18:19] First Injury
[22:11] Travelling and Training Alone in Australia
[26:11] Going Back to the UK and Finally Playing Professional
[33:15] Curiosity and Open-Mindedness
[35:52] Major Injury and Retirement
[38:06] Identity Loss and Transition to Yoga and Mindfulness
[42:08] Learnings from a Professional Career
[46:01] Closing Notes
TaraI’m going to actually talk about my story I realize out of the well over 100 podcasts that we’ve done now, I’ve mentioned a bit about myself and spoken to athletes about my story, but I’ve never really told the story on this podcast.
And the reason I’m doing that is because I actually told it on a podcast recently I was I was interviewed and midway through that podcast I recognized I hadn’t actually told my story and I hadn’t given some of the lessons that I have learned along the way. I talk very openly about my experiences along my journey as an athlete and have told stories, but I haven’t told my story from beginning to end and also revealing about my condition.
So I’m going to do that in this episode and hopefully there’ll be some lessons that may be applicable to you. And if not, you’re just going to learn a little bit more about me along the way. So let’s dove straight into it. And I think the area I want to talk about first up is my condition and if you’ve listened to the podcast, you’ll know that I retired in professional cricket in 2016 and I that ended my career.
However, that career was longer than I was ever meant to have in the game and in sport in general because the day I was born, a doctor that delivered me told my parents that I had a rare condition called Poland Syndrome. It means that only one in 100,000 people have it is twice more common in men than it is in women and it manifests itself slightly differently for each person that has it.
For me it means that I am missing my right pectoral muscle, big chest muscle and two ribs directly behind it. So the only thing that’s protecting my upper right portion of lung is skin. And if you’ve ever played or seen cricket before, you will recognize that the ball is very solid. It moves very fast over up to speeds of 90 mile an hour and above.
And if you get hit, it does hurt But for me, if I was to get struck in that area, it could not only just slightly wind me, it could potentially cause a fatal injury, but growing up, I had been told very early on, literally on day one, my parents had asked the doctors, like, what? What can he do?
What can’t he do? Will he be able to play any sport And the doctor said, then he said, No, I won’t be able play any sports like rugby and cricket will be out of the window because he won’t be able to bowl And so I grew up with a younger brother. He is one year younger than me, and we just grew up like any other kid.
That any other brothers would just competing in. And I’m the older brother and I was competing against him and wanting to beat him and everything. And that just continued as we were kids and I got introduced to sports like golf and play football. I loved running around out of PE was my favorite subject at school. I just loved being active and using my body and using energy and and I think as I was growing up, I was really understanding my body a lot more.
And I was really understanding how that body could move. And I felt that I started to feel the differences as I was growing up because another part of my condition is that with the asymmetry that I have, where there’s a large muscle missing, there’s muscles that are having to do the job of that muscle that they are not designed to do.
So there were muscles in my shoulder that are working twice as hard. The problem with those muscles is they work twice as hard. They fatigue twice as quick. And also then they hurt twice as much when they are really super tight. And that’s one of the biggest issues that I have. Well, that’s why I took up yoga and I’m a big advocate yoga, not a teacher, but I, I am a big advocate for it.
And it was a massive turning point in my adolescence and Mid-twenty years for managing my condition. However, as I grew up and started to become more and more aware of the condition and not only that, things started to get a little bit rougher. Everything as a as a kid, when you’re playing sport, they become harder and faster. My parents had never really said, don’t do things.
The only thing that I was told not to do was rugby. That was the only sport because you’re actively potentially going to get hit and and collided with and that that would cause some issues. But my grandfather introduced us to cricket in the garden and it was just with a bat and a ball. My brother would bat and I would ball, and he taught me those skills and I was hooked It was the thing that I absolutely loved.
I, we would play in the garden from sunrise to sunset in the summer and then my dad would take us to professional games here in Sussex in the UK and I would go and watch Sussex play and I was just in awe of them. And that then started to grow into a little bit of an obsession, started to grow into something that I really wanted to do because I was seeing these role models that I was looking up to, and there was a defining moment where I, my parents said I’d just like slam my hands on the table and said, Right.
That said, I want to be a professional cricketer. And so there them faced with a young kid who has this condition, they’re very wary of it. They understand it. They’ve never told me not to do anything. And I came out with this idea of being a professional cricketer with this condition. So at that moment, it was really about setting out a plan.
So for me, that plan was to get into a representative team here in my local county. And that representative team would be made up of some of the best players in the area. So it would be about 15 would get selected. And to get onto that team, you had to go to trials and I was only about 14, 15, and so I would turn up to these trials and I had, I didn’t have any school cricket, we didn’t have any cricket.
Our school, I’d started going to a club and I recognized I wanted to be a bowler, I wanted to be a fast bowler. It was the job that I wanted to be known for and that was the skill that I had some ability. And so we would go to these trials and I had had very little coaching. Most of it was self-taught, and I would go to these sessions where there were over 100 kids trying to make it into this squad over a series of weeks.
And all they do is they then coach and you train and you try to show your ability in those sessions, and then at the end of it they select the squad after a few games. And I recognized from pretty much day one that I was right behind all these kids I was way, way, way back. And there was very little opportunity for me to show everything that I could show them, but only that the ability that I did have as a cricketer didn’t match some of these kids.
I was smaller of slower. I was I was weaker. They were stronger, faster, better than me. And I recognize if I just let these next few weeks play out, I’m not going to get a chance. So I had to do something and my dad would definitely recognize that I had to do something different in order to stand out.
So at those sessions, I basically would go up to the coaches and say, what am I doing wrong? How can I get better? And I would just nag them. I would just get in their face. I would ask them question after question, like, how do I get better? What is what is it that’s going to make me better at this?
And I know now that having coached younger players, if if the younger version of me was coming up to me, I would have I would annoy the hell out myself. Like it would I can just see this young kid just super enthusiastic, trying to learn and ask questions like getting in front of that that coaches face. But everything was with the intention of trying to get better.
It was with the intention of how can you show me something to develop myself? And that was the idea. The idea was that I may not get in on ability, but maybe I can show them that my attitude and my willingness to grow and get better is there, and they can understand that. Now, all of this sounds really really well thought out, but at the time it was just simple as Just ask questions, just ask questions.
And it didn’t make it something that came really natural. To me either. I was really trying to I was actually having to force myself into it. I remember being very shy. I was very unsure of myself and and I would go up to the coaches feeling that anxiety of what I’m about to ask. But kind of deep down, part of me knowing that I’m going to regret if I don’t ask that question and that would be something that I would now encourage young athletes to do, is that even though you’re going to feel this level of anxiety of asking a question of putting yourself out there as if you don’t know something, that anxiety that you feel is not as bad as the regret that you may feel if you don’t ask that question, if you never know what could have been on the other side of that question. So if there is a question that you are dying to ask your coach, you’re dying to ask someone that you know is going to help get you better because you don’t know the answer, ask it, put yourself forward, put yourself out there.
Yes, it shows some sort of vulnerability, but it’s a strength because you’re going to learn from the other side of that question. So I throw yourself into it, lean into it and go and ask that question. So I would do this on a regular basis every week and the weeks went by and I would continuously ask that those questions.
And we get to the last week where they select the team. And it’s pretty brutal where everyone stands in a row and they are everyone stands in the hall and they just announce the squad and it’s 15 players and they did you get down to the last two names and the last name Louis actually they call it out and I got in, I’m now representing my county on one of the better players in the county and I get to play games against other counties in the country.
So as the season plays out this for about ten games and in those ten games they would send a letter to your, your door and it would be the team sheet for the upcoming game. Now of the 15 that played only of the 15 in the squad only 11 would play and I was always one of those four that was set out.
Training with the Pro’s
So again, as the season is going on, I’m not getting an opportunity to show what I can do, showing my true ability. And I’m seeing this opportunity dwindle in front of me. And again, my dad comes up with an idea of Put yourself out there, put yourself out there to do something different, because otherwise you’re going to you’re going to see this opportunity move on and it’s going to pass you by because the coaches that are looking after me at that age group, they weren’t selecting me.
So he came up to me with the idea of his a phone here’s the phone number call the head coach of the men’s protein and ask him if you can go and train with them. Now, that is a big thing that this was not an easy task. This was something quite outrageous that he was asking me to do at the time.
He was asking me to call up a coach. I didn’t really know. They’d never heard of me and just simply ask them, can I come and help you out at training? And that is that was a terrifying I don’t say this as if it was a really easy thing to do. It was terrifying. I, I remember being in a room dialing the number, sweating, waiting, knowing that if I left that room, I was going to have to give my dad an answer of what he had said.
And so I’m practicing my lines, I’m rehearsing them, and eventually I call up the coach and pluck up the courage to to call them and ask, can I come and train with you guys on tomorrow or the day after? And sure enough, like any coach may do at that time. A 15 year old kid thrown himself out there that.
No, not really heard of. He said no. So I’m gutted. It was frustrating, but the next day my dad would give me the phone, try him again, keep going. And so I would double the number, try another coach, maybe try the same coach, get a no, and I would keep doing out, keep doing it, or I’d get a call and say, I will come back to you.
Maybe there’ll be an opportunity. And I never really was for a few for a little while and one day I’m still going and I called up the number, asked, Can I come and train with you guys tomorrow? And they say, actually there’s a couple of guys that are injured couple of guys that are sick. We need some help.
Come in tomorrow. Can you be here at 9:00? So the previous night, I’d been at a match watching these pros play pretty much try and get autographs of them. And then the next day I’m in the training center, I’m at the I’m at the facility where they’re training and at the ground where they’re training. And I’m stuck to the wall for sheer fear.
I was terrified. And me being there, the idea behind it was that I’m not going to be able to show that. And that I’m better than them. It was, can I be in a room with these guys that are professionals and try and take some of the ways in which they do things the way they go about things, learn from them, understand how they do things, and then maybe try and show a little bit of my ability and also 100% my attitude to try and get better through just putting myself there.
Whether I did well or badly, I had really no right to be in that room with my cricket ability, but I felt I had the right to being there through my drive and persistence and, and my willingness to try and get better and be at that level to different things. But that’s the way I viewed it. So I would go to these training sessions and once I’d had this one opportunity, I kept bringing them back because I’d been there, they’d seen me and, and I’d helped out they’d allow me to come back again, again and again.
So I would keep doing this. I would come back and I would just learn of them, and I would try to see what the best were doing and see what the different training techniques and but the whole process of doing this, I have now recognized that I was willing to do something that others weren’t in my age. I was willing to try something a little bit different.
There was no way I would have got myself into that room through my cricket ability if the system had tried to carry me all the way there. The the amount of kids that were being coached in the system, it was quite a lot. So in order to stand out in order to do something about it and kind of take ownership for your own career in your own future, you have to throw something out there that is completely different to what everyone else is doing.
If you want to do what everyone else is doing, then sure enough, go down that route that everyone else is going. But in the world of sport, the chances of making it to the profession, I’ve lost so slim. And so if you are in a system where there are, let’s say the 15 that were in my age group, just that 15, if you can get one that becomes a professional, that’s a great year but then you’re not accounting for the age group above, below the two age groups above and below that.
But there is a lot of players to be continued then you’ve not even the people that are on the system that could come out of nowhere. So how are you going to stand out in front of all of those if you think that the system will carry you that and maybe it will, but high chances that it won’t You need to provide something to show those coaches to show someone just an edge.
And for me, it wasn’t my cricket ability, it wasn’t my physical attributes. It was my attitude. That was 100%. My edge was my willingness to just put myself out there and be driven and be hard working, be persistent, and and that was that was me at that time. And then, of course, I can develop the physical attributes, the skill attributes, because I’ve put myself into that room, and I’m sure you can do the same.
There’s probably something out there that you can think of. Where can I do something a little bit differently? Really, what it could be as wild as you want it to be. So really throw that that net wide and think of all the possibilities of crazy things that you may have not thought of right now. And think, is everyone else, is anyone else doing that?
And if the answer’s no, then look into it. But also don’t look into it. If it is, if it’s offensive or it’s going to put you in a negative in a negative light, that’s for sure. And for me, that is a huge part of how you stand out is just by doing things differently. So see what you can do differently and go down that route.
My First Injury
So there I am. I’m training with the pros. I’m being I’ve put myself in that room. I’m 15, 16 years old, but I wasn’t very strong. I was probably about 70 kilos dripping where if that and one day I’m bowling and training with them and bang my back goes and I feel this pain in my back and I couldn’t move.
I could barely bend over touch my toes. I was in agony, just it was the first time I’d ever had to stop doing physical work, like to, to have pain like that. I’ve never, I never experienced anything like that. So I walk often because I wasn’t on any medical backing through that that team. I went through all NHS here in the UK, which is an amazing system, but it does take a little bit longer and I went to see a specialist.
I had scans, they couldn’t find anything. And then they did this different X-ray that found where I had a stress fracture in my back. But by that time by the time they’d found it, it’d been three to six months and then they straightaway put me in a corset for another six months. And during that time, so I’m waiting for my back to heal.
Whilst that’s happening, there’s kids that are going off and sort of propelling themselves past where all that, that ground that I’d made on them and they’re moving their careers forward into what I wanted to do, which was professional cricket. And I’m stuck there with this corset on trying to do my exams at school feeling pretty sorry for myself.
But during that period, I recognized that my body had failed me. It was the first time that my body had said, We can’t do this right now. So I spent time recognizing and working on my physical attributes that needed developing because I wasn’t there physically. And there was one thing that I could definitely, definitely accept was that I wasn’t going to get selected for cricket ability reasons and sporting ability reasons at that time because I just hadn’t developed the skill level.
I was only 16 years old, so I wasn’t amazing, but I couldn’t accept my body was the reason that no one could pick me. So I didn’t want anyone to use my condition or my my physical attributes against me. So whilst I was injured, I took the time to go and find out what all of the fitness scores for the professionals were and who was the strongest, the fastest, and what did how did they train when I wrote all of that down and I managed to nag my way into the facility to go and work out and this was where I really work the hardest on my physical attributes at that time.
When you’re growing up as a 17, 18 year old, there’s opportunities that come into your life to explore the world and do things differently, and different things come in and the world opens up a little bit more. And that’s that’s happening. I was staying strong with this dream that I wanted, and I stayed in it whilst my friends were going out partying.
I was in the gym, working in the facilities, trying to change my technique so that my back didn’t get hurt again. Every time that there was some holiday put forward to me, I would stay and go and work and improve myself in that area because this was something I’ve really, really wanted. I was dedicating myself to it, and that took a while.
So from the moment I got injured to the time that I got back and I was physically ready to go was about eight months to two years. Now, in that time from a 16 year old to an 18 year old, that was a huge jump in not only your physical attributes but your ability when you take on a lot of skill at that time.
Travelling and Training Alone in Australia
And I’d lost all that. So I’m come back, I’m fit and I’m ready but the cricket season has just ended and there’s another six months until that starts. So I decided at that moment to travel to Australia. I was a bit of a crossroads with going to something like university or seeing if I could persist in my dream and becoming a professional.
And the opportunity to go to Australia had been there and I always recommend anyone who gets that opportunity at that age to travel, to get yourself out of the country that you’re in and go and jump into another culture, jump into another environment and continent, go and do it. It’s the biggest eye opening experience, biggest humbling and and it definitely teaches you to grow up very, very quickly and that’s what I did.
I went out to Adelaide in Australia, but before I went away I sat down with those coaches that I’d been nagging and I’d been calling and had been working with players during my time, have been injured and had not seen me for a while. They had not seen what I was capable of. They definitely didn’t write me because they’d been working with loads of other players and they were close to offering them contracts.
I sat down with them and said, Can you write me a list of things I need to go and work on in order to get better? And they say it was a long old list and I wrote down all these different things that I needed to go and work on physically. Technically, speed, endurance, everything that I needed to work on.
And I took it and I flew out to Australia and I worked night and day on this. And the thing that I learned probably the most when I was out in Australia was how much you need to be driven on your own in order to achieve something big in sport. So your coaches will get you to a certain level and your family may get you to a certain level when your friends and everyone who’s there to support you will get you to a certain level.
However, the last bit, the if not the first bit and the most important bit is what you do with your time. What do you do in your time when they are not around can you train that hard when they are not around? And the ones that can and this was a skill that I learned is that you can do it, but you have to do it to be driven on your own, to go and do things on your own, take yourself to places, go and find a way to figure it out yourself.
Go and learn about yourself in your own way and take ownership of it. That is something that you can only do on your own and to really understand it because one, it’s not given to you, you have created it. So taking the time to go and work on your game on your own, not with your coaches, not with your friends, not with colleagues, but doing it on your own, structuring your training on your own, structuring where your goals, everything.
And then when you’re training, your learning, how to figure it out yourself. Of course, go and get guidance when you need to, but then go and do that work on your own because it instills this drive, this determination to do it and want to do it. It really comes from an internal source. It’s not an external source that’s given to you.
And that’s where I learned that. I learned that all the way out in Australia because there was no one around the I could rely on in the UK and the people that I had relied on. So I had to come for myself. I had to source everything myself and that’s something I will not only be forever grateful for the club that were out there, that helped me in life member there.
And I love the guys and I kept going back later on but it’s, it is it is an attitude that you can create when you’ve put yourself into an environment on your own and I did that and I got myself fit. I got myself stronger, I got myself better, I flew all the way back. And the problem is when you’re in Australia, you’re miles away from the coaches.
Going Back to the UK and Finally Turning Professional
For them to see how good you are. So I’m back, I’m ready to go. And they’re like, we’re going to take our chances with these guys. Here in the UK, there’s about five bowlers and and all I wanted to do at this stage, I was 20 years old, I wanted to be the opening bowler. I want to be the number one bowler for all Reserve Team for Sussex here in the UK, and that’s what I wanted.
I just wanted that opportunity. But there were five other guys who had had the potential and the ability to do that role as well. So we were all competing. So I’m just asking for an opportunity to be given the ball and, and have a crack at doing it in a few games. So again, I knew there was a lack of opportunity and I sat down with the coaches and said, I want to play here, this is my home, this is my, this is where I’m from.
I want to represent this county because it means so much to me. Please, can you give me this opportunity and I’ll give, make you a deal if you allow me to open the bowling for the next three games and I do. Well, let me carry on doing that. But if I don’t do well, I will ride off into the sunset.
You will never see me again. But I really want to give this a guy. Just give me one opportunity with three opportunities. Essentially, this one month and I took that deal, I thought it was a good deal and they allowed me to do that role. And in those three games I took 21 wickets, which was quite a lot of wickets in one in, in one month and in three games for sure.
So they had to hold up their end of the bargain and this is where it started to snowball quite quickly. Was that I would carry on doing that role for a few weeks, maybe a couple of months. And then the head coach came up to me and he was, he would ask, he asked me to jump onto the bus with the first team, the pro squad, to carry the drinks there.
Now this time back on being on the sidelines. But I’m now older and I’m in the team. This is a pro squad to be traveling around with. And, and if you’re in that team, then you’re actually got an opportunity to hopefully get on the field. But I was essentially there to be carrying the drinks and help out around the squad and didn’t think much of it, but it was a great opportunity.
So I was working in a smoked salmon factory to put petrol my car and I stopped doing that, jumped on the bus packed my bags and started traveling around the country with the squad. And it was awesome. And eventually we get to this one game in London and it was an incredible game that was lined up. There were of the 22 players, there were 15 that were playing international cricket for their respective nations and it was quite a big game and in the warm up are overseas professional from Pakistan did his ankle in the warm up and the coach comes up to me and says right Louis put down the drinks, put down the towels you’re no longer going to be helping out on the sidelines, you aren’t going to play in this game. And not only that, you’re going to open the bowling and the first batter you’re going to be able to is the England captain we start in half an hour and wow, that was a whirlwind. So within half an hour I’ve been standing at the top of my run up, about to bow to the England captain and my parents are tearing their way up the motorway to get to the game to come and watch.
And I was nervous. Like, I seriously was nervous in that moment. And it was it was an amazing moment. But I managed to bring myself together, got myself through that, played well in the game, and then we moved on to the next match. And the next match, that guy who was injured, he was fit again. And I thought, I’m going to be just put on the sidelines.
I’m going to go back to carrying the drinks. But I had to drop someone else and they kept me and it gave me another opportunity because they maybe saw something. And in that game, in that first innings, I took five wickets, which in sort of sporting context, like in football, was like taking a hat trick and I’ve taken these five wickets, I’m coming off the ground and I remember this so vividly that we’ve changed.
We’ve, we’ve showered with change. We’re getting back into the car to go back to the hotel and that coach that I had been calling up, asking for an opportunity with over years and years and years, asked him what I need to work on to get better. The guys that rated me less less than the other players that had been back in the UK that had they had worked with, he came up to me and he said, We’re going to offer you a professional contract you’ve done it.
And that still to this day is my proudest moment now. I played in some amazing games later on in my career, but still to this day, that moment, it was a crystallizing moment. Just the effort that I’ve gone through, the story that I have, what it meant to me and it was such a powerful thing to happen to me at that age.
I was 20 years old and I probably didn’t recognize it right in the moment. But there was a moment when I was on the way home to that hotel where I was with a physio who had been there all the way through my injury and then the analyst of the team who had been in and around my career from a junior age, aged so of about 14, he’d seen me as a 40 and he knew who I was, he knew my father, he had heard of me and these two guys had seen me from my lowest lows to this now highest of high for myself.
And they both said to me like, You need to recognize how crazy this is. And how proud of you, you we are. And, and that was a real even still makes the hairs on mom stand up now just knowing that these two guys had somewhat gone through what I had been through and that they were proud of me.
And I guess it was the first time I’d ever heard anyone be proud of what I had done and them to verbally say it was. So it was just an insane moment and still one of the proudest moments of of my career. And so that then started the journey of me becoming a professional cricketer. And I played six years at Sussex here in the UK.
And it’s honestly one of the best jobs in the world, being a professional athlete is it was so much fun. And you also do learn that when you become a pro, that’s really and it’s not a cliché, it is a cliché, but it it’s so true that the hard work does begin once you become a professional because everyone is trying to chase you, everyone is trying to take your job, everyone’s trying to part of it becomes a business and it’s, it’s still linked with the passion.
So you’re doing it because you love it, but there are some extra elements that you have to deal with. So that’s added pressure that’s added into the whole cauldron that is in the melting pot, that is being an athlete. But I still loved it. Be traveling around we’re playing games and you’re just trying to get better. The goal is to just continuously try and get better.
And, and you you never really lose that even from being a young person to being a prophet because you still essentially are just a kid at heart. So as I’m going through this career, there was one day that I learned so much as a professional, there’s so many different things about myself. I think one of the real things that I learned throughout my professional career is that I didn’t know everything I had self taught myself from a young age.
Curiosity and Open-Mindedness
I didn’t have loads of coaching as a youngster. So I’ve done a lot to look after myself and to figure things out for myself. And the detriment to that was that I was kind of stubborn in in how I went about things. So a bit of advice I would give is that if you can look at yourself with a genuine curiosity of what do I not know and Socrates said in saying, The only thing that I know is that I know nothing.
And that is a it’s I didn’t really think of that when I was a youngster. I thought I had had mechanisms in my life the way I went about my training. I had done it all. And I knew that this was what worked for me. And then when I was offered something different, I was quite defensive because, one, I was really protective of my condition and how I’d done things.
And then to I thought that the way I’d done things would get me to continue that development and continue this sort of rolling. Well, that was my improvement. However, that isn’t necessarily the case. You may get to a certain stage, you may develop to a certain stage and have done it a certain way. But then in order to go the next level, it may take something different in how you do what you do.
So it may be a different method of training, it may be a different method of thinking it may be listening to someone different. So when you get there, be curious, be open minded to listen to different ideas, different opinions. You don’t have to take everything in. You can have a really great filter, but listen to it because you’re at where you’re at because of what you’ve done.
Yes, but there may be an opening, a new door that can open by trying something in a different way. And it took me a little while to realize that, but once I did, then things really started kicking into gear. I started developing. I started trying out new things, and one of those things was yoga. And now I’m so glad because that’s now part of my life now and what I do and what I teach and bring in mindfulness and meditation and and all of that.
It really, really does open up new doors of possibilities. Don’t have to take everything on board. But at least you’ve tried and you’ve you’ve had it go.
Major Injury and Retirement
And my career, it went well and I was starting to get better. And I but then eventually I got to the age of 26 and I was playing in this, this game where I was getting prepared to, to play against Pakistan.
They were coming over me on tour and unfortunately I felt this really sharp pain in my back. And I was, I was the fittest I’d ever been. I was playing the best I’d ever played. I was in such a good place. I was so excited for the next few months because it was really looking good and then bang, couldn’t move, had to be carried off the pitch.
I went for a scan that night and the physio called me the next morning and says, I’m sorry, Louis, but you’ve fractured your spine again. There’s another another stress fracture, but this one’s worse. In an area that’s meant to be stronger, you can have to stop for six months. We’re going to have to go see the specialist when you’re going to see the specialist a few weeks later.
And he told us that it wasn’t a case of if this was going to happen again, it was a case of when. And they threw a lot of options at us, which weren’t very appetizing at the time for sure. And still today, and ultimately was then given the advice and and the decision to retire at 26. It’s a pretty tough pill to swallow.
And I really struggled with it. I mean, I broke down that night and that day it was a really tough, tough period for me. And that was it. You just thrown the game into the identity that you had as being a professional cricketer that you’d built up and you learn it just kind of gets taken away at that moment.
Identity Loss and Transition to Yoga and Mindfulness
And it was really an interesting, interesting period. I didn’t really know who I was I didn’t really have an understanding of what Lewis was about. I didn’t like people asking me, What are you up to? And every professional athlete that goes through that end of their career in that transition period will find it challenging in each and every way because each person’s career means something to them through their own unique story.
No story is the same, and you can never really take that away from it. Anyone so I that was then actually thrown an opportunity to see if I with my condition, if I wanted to go into a Paralympic sport. And one sport that got put forward was swimming and I’d been trained for a year in swimming to get to a assessment and I got myself in a really good shape and became really good at swimming.
However, by the time I got to the assessment, my condition and the way I had managed to train my condition was that I’d actually made it strong enough to not be eligible to get into one of the categories. So it was quite an interesting period, though. I actually had to drop out of that because I couldn’t get in and kind of lost myself again.
I thought, Okay, maybe I can continue to be an athlete and then it gets taken away and that’s where I really hit a, I guess if I’m honest, a rock bottom in who I was because I had the idea of being an athlete, of identifying an athlete, had that last little glimmer of hope, did get taken away. And this was where my mind awfulness, my meditation practice, my breathwork practice, my yoga practice saved me.
It really did save me because I can say that with all of that identity loss and that stress and anxiety of who I was and what I was going to do, I had methods to manage that. I had a way of dealing with it in the moment. I didn’t make it easier in the sense of it didn’t cure the the future for me.
It didn’t figure out what I was going to do with my life or which direction I was going. But it allowed me to jump out of this fight or flight mode in the moment. And I wasn’t consumed by this fear and this anxiety or judgment of who I was. And it managed that situation for me. And that grew into then a bit of a curiosity as to what if these methods have really helped me here.
And I had seen how they had helped me on the field, and I was seeing how they were helping me in my athletic abilities because I my my body healed in in a capacity that allowed me to go out and train run. I can play cricket once a week so I can play on an amateur level. So I was still able to now play like my golf and but I could never get back into a professional situation because the the schedule was just too intense.
And eventually my back would go. So I was seeing how all of these methods were impacting me in a physical sense as well. And then the emotional sense and I was starting to gain much better control of my emotional awareness and my, my awareness of of reacting to situations rather than responding to them my what’s called cognitive dissonance was starting to become great.
I was whenever there was a stimulus, I wouldn’t react to it. I would be able to take a moment to respond to it. And that could be that stimulus could be your own thought. It could be someone else saying something. But through practice, I was starting to become aware of this was changing the person I was and then decided to travel out to a wider train as a yoga teacher in mindfulness and yoga and meditation and and came back from that and started to build sport yoga.
And that’s where the idea of bringing this into athlete’s lives became a possibility and built out that business which is its own entire story. And that’s where I’m at. And now working with athletes in performance mindfulness and, and working with corporates on mindset we’ve obviously got the mind strong journal. And I’m really excited with all of that. But all of what I’m doing now has stemmed from a lot of the lessons that I’ve learned in that story that I’ve just told in where I came from and what I achieved and how I got there and some certain elements that I’ve been able to lean on from being a professional athlete and now transfer into the everyday world and outside of sport. And I guess there’s there’s still some things that I would say are common themes of what I learned in my professional career to what you can use now outside of it. And 11, I am huge, hugely shouting about whether it’s on the podcast or with people is controlling what you can and if anything, using what you have.
Learnings from a Professional Career
A lot of people ask me about my condition and how I was able to achieve what I did not know. I say like, well, I can I can focus on everything that I don’t have and I can focus on everything. But my condition does not allow me to do, but I don’t I focus on everything that I am able to do and I challenge it and I I try to do these things in different or different physical capabilities or challenges or even what it means mentally.
I think I went for a run the other day and I felt my body struggling so then it becomes a mental challenge and a mental run rather than a physical one. And that is just using what you have in that moment and my my story and my condition has taught me that because then you can control what you have and can control what you can.
And I will always talk about understanding what you can control and what you can’t control and which one are you focusing on? Which one are you giving energy to? Are you focusing on too much on things that you can’t control? Or are you focusing your attention on things that you can control? And can you begin to to flex your acceptance muscle to what you can’t control?
I’ve learned that that I can’t control my body is the way it is. I can’t control some of the things that will I can and can’t do with it. But what I can control is how hard I work, what I think of myself and the effort that I put in to everything that I’m going out and into the world doing.
And I encourage you to do the same. I encourage you to look at what you can control. What are you focusing so much on? What you can’t? And can you go over to what you can control of the things that you have, the ability to take action with, the things that you can use to your advantage, the things that you have in your armory that you can use, and as well as that, there are going to be sacrifices that you have to make along the way.
If you want to get to something that is is different than what everyone else is doing, because that is by definition what it essentially is what is being different. If you want to be like the person next to you, then do as they’re doing. But if you want to be better or different and stand out then look for the things that you can do that will allow you to to stand out.
But with that, recognize it costs and it comes at a cost whether it’s sacrificing your time, maybe sacrificing the type of person that you potentially are for a little bit I know that a part of me getting into the professional set up required me to be selfish. And it’s a and so that’s a harsh word to say. But it was it’s not self absorbed it just recognize that I did have to put certain decisions over other ones and that required doing that allowed me to get through some doors and open others.
And it’s now that I am trying to undo those those mechanisms that that I had gone through not feel like I’m getting there or got through it, but it’s it is a part of that journey and it is a part of learning how to sacrifice the right things and, and understanding that if you do want this great thing in this great big dream that you, you’re hanging out there in front of you and you’re saying to the world it’s going to cost you in some way, shape or form.
So I hope I have given a bit of insight there into my story. I think the last thing that I would add is to really look for what makes you unique in a world where we compare ourselves to everyone and everything to look for the things within you that make you unique. Now, I’m not talking about the physical attributes that you have the the external attributes that you can give and show.
Yes, they will be awesome. I’m sure. However, if you were to strip all those away, what makes you truly unique finding? What is your unique capabilities? For me, it took me a while, but to recognize that my drive and my persistence and my willingness to go after these these these dreams in a way that was different to others, that that drive and being in a room and being okay with being the different one and being the one that’s slightly edgier or does things different or might look a little bit different, sound a little bit different, act a little different.
And I’ve always said if people are making fun of you or if people are pointing at you, then you’re in a good place. You’re in a good place where you’re either living authentically and you’re living the way you want to be living and you’re being true to yourself. Or you’re doing something that is going to stand out, get noticed, and is going to create a different result.
Can’t guarantee that it’s always going to be a positive one, but it sure as hell is going to be different to everyone else’s because you are being completely authentic. You’re embracing what makes you unique, and you’re just living so authentically to who you are. And I encourage that as my probably, definitely my last thing to suffer over you is that to to to embrace who you are, to embrace being unique because it takes a little bit time, it takes courage, it takes vulnerability, takes asking these questions of yourself, and I’m putting yourself in uncomfortable positions.
But you can then put your head on your pillow at night knowing that you were truly authentic to who you were. You were really living your life in the way you wanted to, to live it. So there you go. If you have any questions, if there’s probably something I’ve missed in my story there, but if there’s anything that you want to ask, if there’s anything that you are curious about, then find me over on Instagram at Lewis Hatchett.
You can also head over to Tech Talk at Lewis underscore tick tock. We have stuff on the podcast there. Or if you want to email an email in hello at Lewis Hatchett dot com or go to the website Lewis at Jet.com, you can find me there. But thank you so much for taking the time to listen to this.
And I really do appreciate everyone who has ever come up to me and spoken about my story. If they’ve heard it before, but if you didn’t know it for you now do. And hopefully it’s giving you a little bit of insight into what I’m about, where I’m from. So thank you so much. And I will see you guys next time.