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Saturday, March 26, 2011


I was training with Slippers a few months ago, hitting pads and doing drills. One drill we were doing looked potentially dangerous and I was slighlty worried I may hit my partners teeth.

To protect teeth we usually use mouth guards, but they need to go in early in the routine or else you loose momentum and flow in the training, in order to take a time-out, to fit them.

I told Slippers "This is dangerous and I may hit your teeth".

Slippers replies " Don't say that you will jinx it".

I was surprised at that reply, as Slippers is part of the Enlightenment moment and subscribes to science and reason and all things the Renaissance, too, brings in.

Yesterday when reading my sports psychology book on 'concentration', I came across a related idea, that may link up with this idea.

Apparently research called 'ironic processes in sport' has shown that trying NOT to perform X, actually incites the chances of move X actually occurring. The reason for this is, when you say or are told 'don't do X', your brain can conjure up the idea of X - that it knows how to do, as it is in the detail of the command. (Source Weinberg and Gould 2007,p.380).

 This means that a jinx can be based on probability then, in this context.

Does this tally with anyones experiences in their activities ?

I know when I am making notes in my book and I start over-thinking how to write my idea, (e.g. in a limited space at the bottom of the page I need to squeeze in a sentence), more than likely the sentence is messed up and I have to cross out and re-write the sentence and there is even less space now than before.

According to the chapter I read, this is possibly because an automated process, (writing), when elevated to a conscious level, labours the brain and chances for errors increase. The chapter mentioned, this is how an aspect of gamesmanship can work: complement your opponent on his technique "great follow through" - which is automated ... and you provoke the move to become propelled,  instead, by the conscious part of the brain and over-control the move. (This may also take away the brains capacity for performing or analyzing other tasks).

When learning a move you want to be consciously controlling your body but when reviving the move in performance in competition, for example, conscious thinking is not optimum. The brain needs to be looking and analyzing other variables such as external context - where are others stood - what will be the best person to pass to, etc. The narrow focus of move performance is a distraction, or rather, a miss-matched attention style to what is needed.

1 comment:

Richard Sackville said...

Very good post grasshopper, the mind does not know don't or can't only do.

Sifu Slippers