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THE QATSPY® Clubhouse and Pro shop where we have a signed pin flag by Brooks Koepka from the 2017 U.S. Open

By: Charles W. Boatright

Sports Psychology NSA Part No. 2 Comprehension- Situational Awareness of Comprehension- Critical Association and Evaluating

Comprehension is the cornerstone of Situational Awareness that links what one has done (in the past) with what one can, or have the potential of doing (in the future). Comprehension is in the present status, in what we can do now to be prepared to perform at the highest level in sports or any other career field. Comprehension is critical in assessing a situation.

Comprehension is the preparation stage for the athlete. Let me Give you an Example of Using Comprehension in Preparing for a Hazardous Job:

I’m standing on the Double-Steel Crossarm in the middle on a H-Frame structure near the Tallahatchie River where Billy Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge in the song sung by Bobbie Gentry ‘Ole to Billy Joe’

I used to work with a utility performing highline work that has several hazards associated with it. But these hazards can be mitigated with what we call a tailboard conference. The crew takes the time to identify and actually list the hazards during a tailboard and take actions by the crew that will either eliminate or mitigate the hazards. Just by consciously being aware of the hazards, the subconscious mind will deploy special procedures and tactics. Routine is the responsibility of the conscious mind’s while motor-skills (Fine and Gross) are tasks developed in the subconscious mind.

So for the athlete’s situation, the comprehension stage of Situational Awareness is actually understanding the conditions that you, or your team, will be prepping to play under. For instance, if you were the visiting team playing in a stadium that has a loud fanbase, like at LSU stadium nicknamed Death Valley, you have to be aware of the necessary preparations needed in compensating for the loud fans that could cause you to use a silent snap count or hand signals, for instance.

Another great example of conditioning is applying a situation that can develop while driving a vehicle. Below I have listed the three conditions that have to be present for Driving Hypnosis, or for an athlete playing In-The-Zone, to occur:

  1. Normal and routine tasks and conditions must exist. (Perception)
  2. Rely on a high degree of relaxation, confidence, and muscle memory. (Comprehension)
  3. The conscious and subconscious minds are focused on two different situations. (Projection)           

Look at the first two conditions in No. 1- Normal routine and conditions must exist; and No. 2, Relying on a high degree of relaxation, confidence, and muscle memory.

If you’ve never driven in snow or on icy roads before, which would not be a normal, routine situation or conditions for you, you wouldn’t be relaxed or confident while driving. The lack of using comprehension would be where a driver did not check road conditions beforehand and was not aware of the hazards. The driver would be driving into a very dangerous situation that they would be ill-prepared for in driving.

JEEP 2005 where I’m wearing our CWU-45P TOP*GUN Nylon Flight that we carrying in THE QATSPY® Online Store along with the A-2 Leather Flight Jacket that we supply to the U.S. Military.

But, on the other hand, if you used your comprehension technique, you would be aware that you would needed to get reacquainted with or develop skills driving a 4 X 4 and had prior experience driving in snowy or on icy roads to attempt driving in these conditions. You would have prepared and have a mindset, understanding the special skills you would need and/or to take alternative routes to mediate these hazards.

Comprehending the snowy and icy conditions, you might even would take an alternative route with limited, elevated grade and bridges if possible. If alternative route was not possible you would have to review driving skills needed for driving in snowy and on icy roads. I was raised in the Ozarks where snow and icy conditions was conditions we had to learn to drive with during the winter months.

How Comprehension Applies to the Athlete and their Performance

Back to the athlete’s performance, during the Comprehension stage of Situational Awareness, the athlete is acknowledging the conditions on gameday and seeing if those conditions fit their normal, routine training and preparations. For instance, if they are playing in windy and/or rainy conditions, they might have to use a different game plan with limited passing and making use of their ground game. A limiting factor comes into play when an athlete has not prepare for these type conditions. The key to elite performance is to condition and train your mind and body under more demanding conditions than what you will be playing under.

          

So the first two components of Situational Awareness of Training are to develop a Routine (Past) and Mentally and physically prepare for conditions you expect to have to play under. The second is to analyze conditions and comprehend what adjustments are needed (Present) before gameday. The athlete and/or team have to prepare their mind to accept these conditions and understand what skills will be needed, This is essentially the comprehension of the game.

Driving Hypnoses Used as a Training Technique

I personally have studied Driving Hypnoses with the cause and effect it has on the driver. I can’t think of a better model to structure an athlete’s training on than using Driving Hypnoses to be able to perform In-The-Zone, or be automatic. If you read my previous article on Perception, it describes the causes and effects of Driving Hypnoses and what benefits it offers the athlete for both their training and performance.

Applying Driving Hypnoses to the Most Demanding Sport

Golf in my opinion is the most mentally demanding sport to develop confidence and skills in order to have a consistent game. I use the Driving Hypnoses platform to teach my golf students. If you look at the three conditions, above, to develop Driving Hypnoses is exactly what the golfer needs to develop mentally. Especially with developing routine skills under course-like conditions (Perception). Allow the mind to be relax, and have confidence in one’s muscle memory (Comprehension). And finally, Don’t let the conscious mind get in the way of the subconscious mind’s ability to perform at a high level (Projection). I will be covering Projection in my next article on Situational Awareness.

I have a quote concerning Driving Hypnoses used as a Sport Psychology technique- While Driving Hypnoses is unsafe for driving a vehicle down the highway it works great for driving a golf ball down the fairway and upon to the green.

My 405-Training Drill Skill Training

To create the course-like conditions during my practice session, I use repetitive highly-demanding skill drills where I have to place short pitch shots within a 3- foot diameter target around the cup at each end of my indoor putting green. I use the very same techniques and mechanics required for a regular golf shot off the tee box or from the fairway on the golf course.

This develops same course-like adrenaline as if I was playing golf on the course; especially if I’m video tapping my training sessions, Shown below. I refer to this type training session as my 4O5-Training Drill Skills. This training challenge is setup where I must place 4 out of 5 pitch shots out of a bracket inside a 3- Foot diameter at each end of my putting green. The objective is to hit 10 series of 30- inch and 10- series of 12- Foot pitch shots to each cup at both ends of my putting green. This allows me to place 40 out of 50 pitch shots inside my target. That gives me 100 practice shots each day, regardless of the weather or time of day.

Here’s the kicker, if more than 10 pitch shots out of each 50 shot series misses my target, guess what, I get the opportunity to start over at the first bracket of 5- pitch shots until I can place 40 out of 50 pitch shots within a 3- Foot target of my cup at each end. This is 100 pitch shots each-and-everyday.

The 12- Foot Pitch Shot Skill Drill

30-Inch Pitch Shot Drill Skill

I concentrate on pitch shots during my Drill Skills because it is a finesse-type shot that requires more touch and feel. It is the most demanding golf shot the golfer can make that requires focus.

What Occurs during Driving Hypnoses

In a Driving Hypnoses situation for short period of time (2-to-4 minutes) the driver’s routine and conditions are so instinctive and usual that the driver’s subconscious mind takes over all driving task. This causes the driver’s conscious mind to transition to and focus on something totally different than driving. After these short periods of subconsciousness, the driver does not even remember driving past certain land marks or stretches of the scenic road. But they are able to navigate the road and the traffic safely without incident. This is exactly what the athlete wants to developed in their training and especially during their performance.

One reason that I reference Driving Hypnoses in my athlete training is how high performing athletes are constantly asked by reporters what they were thinking of during their unbelievable performance? Their usual reply is always the same; I wasn’t thinking. The baseball pitcher wants to create the same conditions as Driving Hypnoses on the pitcher’s mound. If the pitcher start thinking about their techniques or mechanics they just derailed their entire control and experience what we call Loss Control. They can’t even come near the strike zone. Great pitchers are able to use the third component of Situational Awareness and Project their consciousness into the near future, focused on the strike zone.

Brooks Koepka 2017 signed pin flag of the U.S. Open held at Erin Hills

I’m a big Brooks Koepka fan and this was the very same question asked of him by a reporter and he had the same reply. Brooks Koepka revealed during his first win at the USGA US Open at Erin Hills in 2017, that he wasn’t thinking at all. Brooks demonstrated a form of Situational Awareness, what we refer to as Apperception. He is a great baseball player who lends himself to having a great golf swing with power and clubhead speed by using instinctive skills he developed in baseball for an impressive golf game.

My previous articles on Situational Awareness:

Introduction to Situational Awareness

Sports Psychology NSA Part No. 1 Perception

Another example of Situational Awareness was an interview I had with a Vietnam POW in Hattiesburg back in 2002.

NOTE: The 4O5-Training Drill Skill was what I developed after I interviewed Colonel George Robert Hall who was a POW at the Hanoi Hilton for over seven-and-a-half years.

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