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A 1963 Chevrolet Stingray Corvette the iconic sports car

By: Charles W. Boatright

Sports Psychology NSA Part No. 1- Neuro Situational Awareness of Perception Identifying Key Environmental Components with Routine Processes

The first element of Neuro Situational Awareness is perception- Perception, simply put, is the ability to evaluate a current situation based on past experiences or events where both similar environment and conditions exist. The closer the current situation is to a past experience or event, the higher the level of performance and outcome that can be expected.

Perception is a significant component for athletes to perform at a high level, but just as important is to train under similar conditions. The closer an athlete’s training is to their actual performance using drills and challenges, the closer the gap is between how the athlete trains and how they will perform. The athlete’s subconscious mind shouldn’t detect any difference between practice and performance.

Subconscious Rule No. 1- The subconscious mind does not and must not differentiate between visualizations and real situations.

     

High-performing individuals, like athletes, are able to develop an ExtraSensory Performance (ESP) technique called Apperception. Apperception is the essential self-coaching technique where there is no perceived difference between how an individual practices or performs under the same environment and conditions.

This self-coaching technique of using Apperception allows the individual to develop instinctive skills and routines that automatically kick-in during their performance. There are veterans, our national treasure, that can respond without thinking, where their training automatically kicks-in without any thought process. If an individual has to think about their performance, they won’t be able to perform at a high level of being in the ZONE. This is especially true with golfers.

Perception can actually be experienced while driving a vehicle. Under normal routine and conditions, 90 percent of our driving tasks are instinctive, developed over years of experience. The task we use for driving, we don’t even think about based on our perception of current conditions, compared to our prior experiences.

Most vehicles today have automatic transmissions where the learning curve isn’t quite as steep as with a manual transmission. But, for some of us, we had to learn on a manual transmissions. At first, if you were like me, you had severe doubts if you would going to master the skills to coordinate the accelerator with the break, clutch, and the shifter. Then, after gaining experience, we got to the point we didn’t even think about coordinating when shifting gears and coordinating that with the accelerator, break, and clutch, it became for a better lack of a word- automatic to us. Even down shifting going around corners is a natural instinct.

Matter of fact, there is nothing like a manual transmission to feel the great experience of driving a high-performance sports car, like the 1963 Stingray Corvette, shown in the feature image above.

In some instances, driving can become so instinctive that our subconscious mind takes over so much of the driving tasks that we don’t even remember driving past certain landmarks or stretches of highway. The perception developed in driving is the exact model the athlete wants to tailor their training to, where there is predominate reliance on the subconscious effort rather than a conscious one.

It is all based on having the correct routine and conditions in place that heighten our perception.

A great example of perception is where the pitching coach comes out to the mound to remind the pitcher just to focus on the strike zone and to not think about their techniques or mechanics. As soon as the pitcher starts thinking about their technique and mechanics, they lose what The Righteous Brothers called You Lost That Loving Feeling.

Subconscious Rule No. 9- The greater the conscious effort reduces the subconscious intuitive response.

A person or athlete to develop a subconscious performance has to develop the ability to project their conscious mind forward like a placekicker does getting ready to kick an extra point or a field goal. They project their conscious mind forward to the a bull’s eye in the middle of the 18-foot 6-inch distance between the uprights and over a 10- foot high crossbar. Than the kicker’s instincts kick-in and their performance is automatic. A placekicker can win close games for the team, just ask Florida Gators playing in the rescheduled game with LSU Tigers this passed season in 2019. The game was rescheduled due to COVID-19 contact tracing.

Subconscious Training Technique– Practice and train under the same routine and conditions to develop your instinctive skills while you shift your conscious focus to a point in the future. This is what the baseball or softball pitcher do by focusing on the strike zone. This way the athlete get out of their own way and let things come to them.

The key to high level of performance is being able to project one’s conscious mind into the future and get out of your subconscious performance.

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Series on Neuro Situation Awareness:

Sports Psychology of Situational Awareness in Aviation