Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Keep Your Eye On The Ball

As Steve Magness points out on Twitter, that's impossible.  What I find really interesting in this story, however, is this:

"...That's because forcing an athlete to think consciously about an automated task destroys his ability to anticipate and puts him back in the realm of reaction.

"Coaches who call timeouts to ice free throw shooters and field goal kickers are trying to exploit what researchers have codified: Break up the routine; get the player thinking. University of Chicago psychologist Sian Beilock, author of the book Choke, has demonstrated that, in golf, pressure-induced poor putting can sometimes be overcome with simple remedies such as singing to yourself or counting backward by threes. For automated tasks like putting or placekicking, mild distraction, rather than intense concentration, may be the best approach because it keeps the process out of the higher-conscious areas of the brain, where what Beilock calls "paralysis by analysis" takes root...."

I think this is 100% spot on.  And the implications for barefoot-style running are pretty clear.  Don't look down.  Let your feet react to what's happening, don't try to second-guess them.  Look ahead, or run in the dark.  Once you start to realize that your feet don't need your supervision, it's pretty liberating.

But do take it slow at first.