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Athlete Centered Coach #22 - Responding To Stimuli

This one is inspired by a back-and-forth with Robby Edwards on Facebook.

It has been said that most of the barriers to human performance exist in our minds. I want to show different aspects of thinking and habit formation that can allow us to use the mind/body connection better. My tagline for this site is "Helping You Get Out Of Your Brain's Way." Everyone has built-in quite a bit of innate wisdom regarding how to learn and perform as long as we don't muck it up.

"In between stimulus and response, there is a moment." Viktor Frankl

I take it further to say that that moment is when you choose your response. People tend to overreact to things, and learning how to respond precisely in the best possible way takes quite a bit of honing in skill. Two recent research outcomes that confirm some ideas I have held for a while are the following: 1. Understanding what you are trying to do leads to an a-ha moment, which is superior to the idea of honing muscle memory, whatever that means. 2. all decision-making may be subconscious, and we become aware of our subconscious decisions about a half second after they occur.

The practicality of those two ideas is as follows: these are things I have taught for decades. When we learn something we need to understand the overall, the big picture, the full thing, the entire stroke, the full system, then we can start to break things down into component pieces. So, the old-school method of demonstrating a full stroke to students and then having them mimic the whole thing could be the most critical in their learning. Then, you can identify the largest error made, correcting that before moving on to the next largest or more important piece of the larger concept. Demonstrating a full forehand five times, then having a player mimic the full stroke with maybe one or two checkpoints is far more valuable than compartmentalizing with Ready Position, Racquet Preparation, Let It Drop Into The Slot, Pull Through To Contact Point, Follow Through and Finish. The problem with the latter is that it creates a checklist to perform, and when players do that, they get lost in the details, their strokes become robotic, and they use too much executive decision-making thinking in how they will produce the stroke.

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