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Competitive Sports
Answer
7/15/15 8:47 AM
Anyone practicing during competitive sports like tennis ? I've been experimenting with some limited success. Seems a great environment to learn because there is a fair amount of emotion, distraction etc. while there is no downside of an experiment gone wrong.

Watching other people play it seems we have a split personality - literally talking to ourselves e.g. "you idiot" after a mistake or "YES" after winning a point. It has been a surprise to watch men in their 50s and 60s throw tantrums (quitting when loosing, throwing rackets, screaming...) At the same time there are some people who have a calm that is imperturbable. 

When I think about what I'm doing I tend to make more mistakes. Trying to stay with the witness helps turn the thinking off. But after making a mistake (or more often after a series of mistakes) the inner critic really kicks in, sometimes speaking out loud!

Seems that thinking can be useful for example in identifying a problem e.g. backhand, looking for a rational theory as to why it is not working e.g. position of the ball at impact then "pre-programming" a new behavior with intentions but stopping the thinking during the actual shot. Without the thinking there is a tendancy to simply avoid unreliable techniques - but they will never improve that way.

Perhaps meditation can allow someone to be very happy playing at a poor level. Or maybe it can allow someone to be happy making progress.  I wonder how much of this relates to general life experience. Often meditators are pretty negative toward inner thought, if I did turn it off completely I wonder if I'd make much progress in tennis - maybe I'd need to put myself in the hands of a coach.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/15/15 2:00 PM as a reply to Mark.
<my opinion, your mileage may vary>

Meditation does not provide expertise in sport, athletics or other competitive activities. Coaching, lessons, and practice still have their place. What I think meditation does provide (at least in my experiences in running, shooting, martial arts, and playing bridge) is the benefit of 'getting out of my own way'. Improved concentration, plus demoting self-talk and other distracting thoughts to a background level helps you to perform at the highest level of which you are capable.

If you want to do better than that, you need training and practice.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/15/15 2:48 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:


Watching other people play it seems we have a split personality - literally talking to ourselves e.g. "you idiot" after a mistake or "YES" after winning a point. It has been a surprise to watch men in their 50s and 60s throw tantrums (quitting when loosing, throwing rackets, screaming...) At the same time there are some people who have a calm that is imperturbable. 
At higher levels of sports where skill levels are very similar between players (or any time when skills levels are similar), head game is usually what makes the difference as to who wins.  I work very hard to not say to myself things like 'you idiot,' not out low and not in my head.  Works much better to say something like, "You can get that next time when you focus, it wasn't that hard of a short to get and you can get it."  You program yourself every day and every minute with what you tell yourself, may as well choose wisely what words you choose. 



Seems that thinking can be useful for example in identifying a problem e.g. backhand, looking for a rational theory as to why it is not working e.g. position of the ball at impact then "pre-programming" a new behavior with intentions but stopping the thinking during the actual shot.
In fast sports, you often don't have time to think if there are only fractions of a second to react.  But i agree, positive visualization and thinking beforehand are beneficial, I remember in the past there were some stories from tennis players about how they used positive visualization to go from OK to top ranked winners.  Of course they were already getting top of the line training in other ways but the attitude adjustment was what made the difference. 

Without the thinking there is a tendancy to simply avoid unreliable techniques - but they will never improve that way.
I don't see any downside to working on attitude and thought processes along with regular training.  Also, as you say, it's interesting to watch how it pans out in others as well as self.  For instance, I see some players after they hit a bad set up shot sort of give up, mentally convinced the point is probably over for them whereas others will not mentally give up and sometimes get some amazing shots back instead.  If I am on the other side, it's good to hit at the one who looks like he/she has given up, of course, or anyone who is acting frustrated.  ;-P  When you are frustrated and upset with self or others, that distracts from focus on the ball and the rest of the game, then you play worse, and then you can get more frustrated.  Ability to marshal thoughts to a more productive state makes the difference between playing bad all day or just playing bad for a bit and then getting it together again.  But to do that, you will probably need to watch and learn very carefully how your mind works and make appropriate adjustments.    

Perhaps meditation can allow someone to be very happy playing at a poor level. Or maybe it can allow someone to be happy making progress.  I wonder how much of this relates to general life experience. Often meditators are pretty negative toward inner thought, if I did turn it off completely I wonder if I'd make much progress in tennis - maybe I'd need to put myself in the hands of a coach.
I don't think ALL mental thought goes, just the useless chatter, which is most of it.  But if you go to the grocery story, I would guess a 4th pather would still be thinking something like, "Ok I need milk, bread, and toilet paper," and plot a course accordingly.  ;-P

As for meditation and sports, I find that sitting on the mat teaches certain lessons and skills but those lessons are a lot more valuable when applied all day long as much as possible in many different situations.  I really personally do not understand the concept of meditating a certain amount of time per day and then expecting that to dramatically change your life by itself.  IMO, it only works strongly if you take those same lessons and work with them all day long every day whenever you can remember. 

I have not taken an official tally or anyting but those that make it far down the paths seem to be working on it all day, not just for a few hours at designated times. 
-Eva

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/15/15 4:49 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
Anyone practicing during competitive sports like tennis ? 
It seems to me the mind has multiple capacities and dimensions.  It is up to us to push the limits for ourselves, meditation can be both sitting and during movements.  The mind can be very fast, indeed much faster than the ego verbal formations can ever possibly keep up with.  There is that flow, and in that flow that is where it really connects, hitting the ball, catching the pass, throwing the dart.  

So, I do think that the narrative thinking about the actions, the planning on how to do better, the visualizations and whatnot does play a part in training for competitive sports.  But, perhaps while actually playing, if one is in narration mode, it is like having a governor on the engine, or a distracting commentator needlessly reporting every movement,  belatedly.

Another thing that comes to mind is how the mind sets limits, and does not let one perform to capacity, probably some kind of evolutionary self protection mode, so we do not go around damaging the body.

But maybe we could look at the hypnosis studies where one can do far more repetitions with weights than they could ever do while not under hypnosis.  Maybe not the best example of how the ego process gets in the way, but maybe serves up a point...  Tennis pun?  And, well, I can not find any studies, though I remember reading about them in a college library some many years ago.  I have run into to this knowledge censorship before... Mushroom Factor at Large in all fields of study anyone?

  Maybe someone else knows of these studies?  Where say, one can do 10 overhead presses with a certain weight normally, but under hypnosis they can do like 50.

Anyway the point was to examine states of athletic performance while in the flow, versus not in the flow, does the narrative help in training, or get in the way?  Or is it a little of both, and both modes are used?  Flow Mode, and Narrative Mode. Mixtures.

And, does Negative Self critisicm help us train ourselves?  They say we learn more from pain that pleasure?  Or is it just the training that helps, and the Negative reinforcement does not actually help?  I wonder myself.  It seems to help, but....

(Edited for deletion of video,  was special effects, oops)



Psi

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/16/15 3:41 AM as a reply to Scott Kinney.
Scott Kinney:
<my opinion, your mileage may vary>

Meditation does not provide expertise in sport, athletics or other competitive activities. Coaching, lessons, and practice still have their place. What I think meditation does provide (at least in my experiences in running, shooting, martial arts, and playing bridge) is the benefit of 'getting out of my own way'. Improved concentration, plus demoting self-talk and other distracting thoughts to a background level helps you to perform at the highest level of which you are capable.

If you want to do better than that, you need training and practice.

I guess it depends if you consider mental skills to be part of the expertise in sport. Agreed that the physical skills need physical training. Personally I see the mental skills are a part of the expertise needed to play sports well. "getting out of my own way" resonates with me too. A state of flow is how I've often heard the experience of achieving peak performance described but this is like a complete immersion so there is no witness. Mindfulness would seem to change the experience of flow. I've not experienced mindfulness of flow but it would be great if there is be a positive feedback loop there.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/16/15 4:12 AM as a reply to Eva Nie.
Eva M Nie:
Mark:


Watching other people play it seems we have a split personality - literally talking to ourselves e.g. "you idiot" after a mistake or "YES" after winning a point. It has been a surprise to watch men in their 50s and 60s throw tantrums (quitting when loosing, throwing rackets, screaming...) At the same time there are some people who have a calm that is imperturbable. 
At higher levels of sports where skill levels are very similar between players (or any time when skills levels are similar), head game is usually what makes the difference as to who wins.  I work very hard to not say to myself things like 'you idiot,' not out low and not in my head.  Works much better to say something like, "You can get that next time when you focus, it wasn't that hard of a short to get and you can get it."  You program yourself every day and every minute with what you tell yourself, may as well choose wisely what words you choose. 



This reminds me of "affirmations" where the results are not as obvious as we might first assume. With affirmations it can depend on the personality as to whether they have the desired effect. If for example there is a low self-esteem then positive affirmations can actually have negative results. I have the impression it is related to authenticity - if you absolutely believe you can "get that next time" then it is a good thing to reinforce, if however that is unrealistic it may actually have the opposite effect similar to what negative affirmations might cause.

Words are certainly powerful but if the underlying drivers are negative then hiding that with positive words is probably not desirable.






Seems that thinking can be useful for example in identifying a problem e.g. backhand, looking for a rational theory as to why it is not working e.g. position of the ball at impact then "pre-programming" a new behavior with intentions but stopping the thinking during the actual shot.
In fast sports, you often don't have time to think if there are only fractions of a second to react.  But i agree, positive visualization and thinking beforehand are beneficial, I remember in the past there were some stories from tennis players about how they used positive visualization to go from OK to top ranked winners.  Of course they were already getting top of the line training in other ways but the attitude adjustment was what made the difference. 



I heard that the book "The Inner Game of Tennis" published in 1972 was a revolution in sports and also inspired the modern "coaching" concept where people help business professional be more effective. From the wiki "In 1960, Gallwey was captain of the Harvard University Tennis Team. In the 1970s he learned the meditation techniques of the Divine Light Mission's Guru Maharaj Ji, which Gallwey said enhanced his powers of concentration in a manner that improved his game."



Without the thinking there is a tendancy to simply avoid unreliable techniques - but they will never improve that way.
I don't see any downside to working on attitude and thought processes along with regular training.  Also, as you say, it's interesting to watch how it pans out in others as well as self.  For instance, I see some players after they hit a bad set up shot sort of give up, mentally convinced the point is probably over for them whereas others will not mentally give up and sometimes get some amazing shots back instead.  If I am on the other side, it's good to hit at the one who looks like he/she has given up, of course, or anyone who is acting frustrated.  ;-P  When you are frustrated and upset with self or others, that distracts from focus on the ball and the rest of the game, then you play worse, and then you can get more frustrated.  Ability to marshal thoughts to a more productive state makes the difference between playing bad all day or just playing bad for a bit and then getting it together again.  But to do that, you will probably need to watch and learn very carefully how your mind works and make appropriate adjustments.    



Hmm that is a logical conclusion. The mental aspect is an important part of the game, as I would exploit a weak service it would also make sense to exploit poor mental habits. I had not thought about this - it seems sort of cruel emoticon But I think you are right that it is part of the competition. Obviously it can be done in an unskillful way (reminds me of McEnroe). I'll try to watch that aspect of the game more!




Perhaps meditation can allow someone to be very happy playing at a poor level. Or maybe it can allow someone to be happy making progress.  I wonder how much of this relates to general life experience. Often meditators are pretty negative toward inner thought, if I did turn it off completely I wonder if I'd make much progress in tennis - maybe I'd need to put myself in the hands of a coach.
I don't think ALL mental thought goes, just the useless chatter, which is most of it.  But if you go to the grocery story, I would guess a 4th pather would still be thinking something like, "Ok I need milk, bread, and toilet paper," and plot a course accordingly.  ;-P



This seems to vary. Some people claim to live in the moment i.e. there is no planning. So I guess that sort of mental talk may not happen. It is not the mental talk that remembers the milk and bread. It seems conceivable that you would just get more milk out of habit etc. so no need to talk about it. I'm not sure that this applies so much to learning new skills - perhaps then mental talk can serve a sort of integrative function - by expressing a story the mind can then react to that story and explore the subject further. I very much doubt that mental talk is always detrimental.


As for meditation and sports, I find that sitting on the mat teaches certain lessons and skills but those lessons are a lot more valuable when applied all day long as much as possible in many different situations.  I really personally do not understand the concept of meditating a certain amount of time per day and then expecting that to dramatically change your life by itself.  IMO, it only works strongly if you take those same lessons and work with them all day long every day whenever you can remember. 



Practising off the cushion makes a lot of sense. Ideally off the cushion is just another form of practise. Then life can be considered all practise or/and no practise.

However I think there are things that are useful on cushion that can't be reproduced off cushion. I'll try an analogy. If you are learning math there may be very few occasions in the day where you get to use the math skills, studying 1 hour a day over years allows you to get very good at math, then one day you have a problem in every day life where the math skills can be applied. Without the earlier period of training the opportunity to apply math would not have been noticed and the skills would not have been available.

Shinzen Young describes the concept of shifting the baseline level of clarity, concentration and equanimity. Intense practise can allow for "breakthroughs" that may not otherwise happen.



I have not taken an official tally or anyting but those that make it far down the paths seem to be working on it all day, not just for a few hours at designated times. 
-Eva


Experience seems very diverse. On DhO I think you are right because there is a lot of emphasis on noting and that can be applied throughout the day. But other methods like direct pointing would not be so applicable. Ritual practises can require very controlled circumstances so again they are not going to occur during the day.

If you consider the eightfold path then there is a large part of it that cannot be practised on the cushion and likewise a part of it that probably can't be practised off the cushion.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/16/15 4:17 AM as a reply to Psi.
Psi:
Mark:
Anyone practicing during competitive sports like tennis ? 
It seems to me the mind has multiple capacities and dimensions.  It is up to us to push the limits for ourselves, meditation can be both sitting and during movements.  The mind can be very fast, indeed much faster than the ego verbal formations can ever possibly keep up with.  There is that flow, and in that flow that is where it really connects, hitting the ball, catching the pass, throwing the dart.  

So, I do think that the narrative thinking about the actions, the planning on how to do better, the visualizations and whatnot does play a part in training for competitive sports.  But, perhaps while actually playing, if one is in narration mode, it is like having a governor on the engine, or a distracting commentator needlessly reporting every movement,  belatedly.



Yes it certainly seems to particularly mess up timing!


Another thing that comes to mind is how the mind sets limits, and does not let one perform to capacity, probably some kind of evolutionary self protection mode, so we do not go around damaging the body.

But maybe we could look at the hypnosis studies where one can do far more repetitions with weights than they could ever do while not under hypnosis.  Maybe not the best example of how the ego process gets in the way, but maybe serves up a point...  Tennis pun?  And, well, I can not find any studies, though I remember reading about them in a college library some many years ago.  I have run into to this knowledge censorship before... Mushroom Factor at Large in all fields of study anyone?

  Maybe someone else knows of these studies?  Where say, one can do 10 overhead presses with a certain weight normally, but under hypnosis they can do like 50.

Anyway the point was to examine states of athletic performance while in the flow, versus not in the flow, does the narrative help in training, or get in the way?  Or is it a little of both, and both modes are used?  Flow Mode, and Narrative Mode. Mixtures.

And, does Negative Self critisicm help us train ourselves?  They say we learn more from pain that pleasure?  Or is it just the training that helps, and the Negative reinforcement does not actually help?  I wonder myself.  It seems to help, but....

(Edited for deletion of video,  was special effects, oops)



Psi

There is a big difference between observing something that is done poorly e.g. "I'm not following through enough" and self judgement e.g. "I'm an idiot". Perhaps that is a good distinction to focus on - to criticise with objective facts related to playing well. 

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/16/15 7:19 AM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
Scott Kinney:
<my opinion, your mileage may vary>

Meditation does not provide expertise in sport, athletics or other competitive activities. Coaching, lessons, and practice still have their place. What I think meditation does provide (at least in my experiences in running, shooting, martial arts, and playing bridge) is the benefit of 'getting out of my own way'. Improved concentration, plus demoting self-talk and other distracting thoughts to a background level helps you to perform at the highest level of which you are capable.

If you want to do better than that, you need training and practice.

I guess it depends if you consider mental skills to be part of the expertise in sport. Agreed that the physical skills need physical training. Personally I see the mental skills are a part of the expertise needed to play sports well. "getting out of my own way" resonates with me too. A state of flow is how I've often heard the experience of achieving peak performance described but this is like a complete immersion so there is no witness. Mindfulness would seem to change the experience of flow. I've not experienced mindfulness of flow but it would be great if there is be a positive feedback loop there.

I do consider mental skills to be part of sports expertise; particularly in things like martial arts. Mindfulness of flow in sport is as tricky as it is in meditation. If you start consciously thinking, "Hey this is going really well!" chances are it will start to fall apart. There's a balance between strength (or concentration or thought) and surrender (to the flow) to be struck. You won't get to experience flow without strength or concentration or thought, once you are experiencing it, though, extra thought or concentration may not help. 

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/16/15 7:29 AM as a reply to Psi.
Psi,

If you find those hypnosis studies, please see if they describe the nature of the hypnotic conditioning used, that would be critical in understanding the outcome.

Also, to another point you raised, Narrative, in a way does play a role in training. It sometimes helps to break complex sequences into cues, or performance cue words. These help in drills and practice, They can also provide a safety net of sorts in performance, giving you a way to reset your attention and re-anchor your technique. It gives you a place to go if you are overtaken by events.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/16/15 10:43 AM as a reply to Scott Kinney.
Scott Kinney:
Mark:
Scott Kinney:
<my opinion, your mileage may vary>

Meditation does not provide expertise in sport, athletics or other competitive activities. Coaching, lessons, and practice still have their place. What I think meditation does provide (at least in my experiences in running, shooting, martial arts, and playing bridge) is the benefit of 'getting out of my own way'. Improved concentration, plus demoting self-talk and other distracting thoughts to a background level helps you to perform at the highest level of which you are capable.

If you want to do better than that, you need training and practice.

I guess it depends if you consider mental skills to be part of the expertise in sport. Agreed that the physical skills need physical training. Personally I see the mental skills are a part of the expertise needed to play sports well. "getting out of my own way" resonates with me too. A state of flow is how I've often heard the experience of achieving peak performance described but this is like a complete immersion so there is no witness. Mindfulness would seem to change the experience of flow. I've not experienced mindfulness of flow but it would be great if there is be a positive feedback loop there.

I do consider mental skills to be part of sports expertise; particularly in things like martial arts. Mindfulness of flow in sport is as tricky as it is in meditation. If you start consciously thinking, "Hey this is going really well!" chances are it will start to fall apart. There's a balance between strength (or concentration or thought) and surrender (to the flow) to be struck. You won't get to experience flow without strength or concentration or thought, once you are experiencing it, though, extra thought or concentration may not help. 

Would be interesting to hear of anyone experiencing mindfulness of flow - maybe that is impossible if flow if defined as a deep absorption in the task. From wiki "The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task although flow is also described (below) as a deep focus on nothing but the activity – not even oneself or one's emotions."

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/16/15 2:35 PM as a reply to Scott Kinney.
Scott Kinney:

I do consider mental skills to be part of sports expertise; particularly in things like martial arts. Mindfulness of flow in sport is as tricky as it is in meditation. If you start consciously thinking, "Hey this is going really well!" chances are it will start to fall apart. There's a balance between strength (or concentration or thought) and surrender (to the flow) to be struck. You won't get to experience flow without strength or concentration or thought, once you are experiencing it, though, extra thought or concentration may not help. 
That is an interesting issue and good to be aware of.  I've seen it used.  For instance, if you say to a player with a good serve something like, "You have a great serve, how do you do that?"  and often they will start goofing up their serve once they start trying to analyze it.  Part of the mental game is observing that kind of thing in others, and make no mistake, some players will use that ploy on you and the naive will have no idea the reason behind it, thinking it is merely a kind compliment.  So it's good to understand that aspect of the game as well as how those words process through your own mind and what effect it has on you and how to have more control of mental outcome.  I actually like to play with those kinds of people sometimes because it gives me a chance to strengthen my own headgame and become more immune to manipulation.  Also interesting, those who like to play headgames expect me to not like it, so if I say something like, "Please do that all you like, it's fun," they tend to get all confused and frazzled which is also interesting.  Another one that I personally like is when playing as a team, help your team mates with their own mental game.  Sometimes I just like to repeat' We're good we're good' and let that be sort of a mantra, expecially if we hit some bad shots a few times in a row.  It can be interesting to just play with things, see how what you say out loud and to self effects the next few shots. Interestingly, I have found that saying to myself things like, "I have to start focusing better, I have to concentrate, etc" has a poor outcome.  Apparently it works about as well as all those times people tell themselves they ahve to start eating less, working harder, getting up earlier, being on time for work, etc.  IE, yelling at self for being lame does not seem to work.  ;-P   

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/16/15 2:41 PM as a reply to Eva Nie.
Eva,

That happens in bridge also. My partner and I often play with people who come to the table replaying/analysing/critiqueing the last hand. We love to play with them because they are already distracted from the hand we are about to play. And I'm not that great a bridge player, so I'm happy for any advantage I have available.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/16/15 2:45 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
Psi:
Mark:
A
So, I do think that the narrative thinking about the actions, the planning on how to do better, the visualizations and whatnot does play a part in training for competitive sports.  But, perhaps while actually playing, if one is in narration mode, it is like having a governor on the engine, or a distracting commentator needlessly reporting every movement,  belatedly.



Yes it certainly seems to particularly mess up timing!

Well depends on the sport.  I like fast sports and there's typically not much time for narrative once the point starts.  You are typically strained just to monitor where all the players are located and moving, decide who gets and goes where on my side, and if it's my shot, I will want to both choose a shot according to ability and strengths and location of other players and also execute that shot.  Immediately upon execution, I will want to be already moving to my correct position on the court and the process continues until someone misses.  If I can get that much observation in, I am doing well.  The majority of my narrative comes between points when there is time to think.  When I am really in the zone though, it's more like instinct instead of narrative.  My goal with the narrative is often to get to where I am more in the zone and don't need the narrative as much.  ;-P   

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/16/15 3:13 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:

This reminds me of "affirmations" where the results are not as obvious as we might first assume. With affirmations it can depend on the personality as to whether they have the desired effect. If for example there is a low self-esteem then positive affirmations can actually have negative results. I have the impression it is related to authenticity - if you absolutely believe you can "get that next time" then it is a good thing to reinforce, if however that is unrealistic it may actually have the opposite effect similar to what negative affirmations might cause.
I agree it works much better if you believe it, otherwise you may be sayng the affirmation but mentally denying it a second afterwards.  I only work with ones I think I can believe.  The fact that I soetimes can get a shot is enough for me to believe I am capable of getting a shot, so I a statement like, "I am capable of getting it next time." is something I can believe.  I also think that just kind of repeating statements someone gave you without looking at the mental processing you put in for and against them may not work well.  You will want to look at the whole big picture of negative and positive thought and attitude.  For instance, if you fundamentally believe you suck, then just a few positive sounding affirmations will probably not have an effect, you will need to look instead at that whole world view you have of yourself overall that may be sitting on your chest like a giant elephant the whole time. 
Words are certainly powerful but if the underlying drivers are negative then hiding that with positive words is probably not desirable.
Yes!  I didn't see this earlier but yes, I think you just said what I just wrote but in a more concise way. 



 heard that the book "The Inner Game of Tennis" published in 1972 was a revolution in sports and also inspired the modern "coaching" concept where people help business professional be more effective. From the wiki "In 1960, Gallwey was captain of the Harvard University Tennis Team. In the 1970s he learned the meditation techniques of the Divine Light Mission's Guru Maharaj Ji, which Gallwey said enhanced his powers of concentration in a manner that improved his game
That might have been it, it was a bit after that time frame, around the 70s I think, when I heard that info on tv, it left a bit of a strong impression on me, but ironically it would be decades before I actually seriously applied that kind of thing to my own thinking. 


Without the thinking there is a tendancy to simply avoid unreliable techniques - but they will never improve that way.


Hmm that is a logical conclusion. The mental aspect is an important part of the game, as I would exploit a weak service it would also make sense to exploit poor mental habits. I had not thought about this - it seems sort of cruel emoticon But I think you are right that it is part of the competition. Obviously it can be done in an unskillful way (reminds me of McEnroe). I'll try to watch that aspect of the game more!
McEnroe was sometimes out of control mentally, it may have hurt him more than it helped him, besides just looking bad as well.  ;-P  For the rest, it's personal how far to go.  I have no problem hitting to the person who is weaker or is missing more for whatever reason, it's an assumed part of the game, assuming my goal is just to make points.  (but sometimes it's fun to hit to the best one instead because the return shots will be more educational. )  I like to mostly focus on my own improvement of attitude for self and partner.  Ironically it was only when I started really focusing on that when I saw what some other players were doing to manipulate.  So I think it's good to know the methods so you can help block the effects or throw them back if they get sent your way to yourself or your partner.  It helps a lot of observe dynamics between players, both the other side and hwo they get along with eachother and you and how you get along with your partner.  For instance, since your partner is on your team and teamwork strengthens your team, you will want to make sure that what you are sayingd and doing helps your partner to that effect.  That means understanding your own motivations and weaknesses as well as theirs and how they interact.  There are a lot of teams that sometimes or often become weaker due to negativity or squabbling.  
-Eva   



Perhaps meditation can allow someone to be very happy playing at a poor level. Or maybe it can allow someone to be happy making progress.  I wonder how much of this relates to general life experience. Often meditators are pretty negative toward inner thought, if I did turn it off completely I wonder if I'd make much progress in tennis - maybe I'd need to put myself in the hands of a coach.
I don't think ALL mental thought goes, just the useless chatter, which is most of it.  But if you go to the grocery story, I would guess a 4th pather would still be thinking something like, "Ok I need milk, bread, and toilet paper," and plot a course accordingly.  ;-P



This seems to vary. Some people claim to live in the moment i.e. there is no planning. So I guess that sort of mental talk may not happen. It is not the mental talk that remembers the milk and bread. It seems conceivable that you would just get more milk out of habit etc. so no need to talk about it. I'm not sure that this applies so much to learning new skills - perhaps then mental talk can serve a sort of integrative function - by expressing a story the mind can then react to that story and explore the subject further. I very much doubt that mental talk is always detrimental.


As for meditation and sports, I find that sitting on the mat teaches certain lessons and skills but those lessons are a lot more valuable when applied all day long as much as possible in many different situations.  I really personally do not understand the concept of meditating a certain amount of time per day and then expecting that to dramatically change your life by itself.  IMO, it only works strongly if you take those same lessons and work with them all day long every day whenever you can remember. 



Practising off the cushion makes a lot of sense. Ideally off the cushion is just another form of practise. Then life can be considered all practise or/and no practise.

However I think there are things that are useful on cushion that can't be reproduced off cushion. I'll try an analogy. If you are learning math there may be very few occasions in the day where you get to use the math skills, studying 1 hour a day over years allows you to get very good at math, then one day you have a problem in every day life where the math skills can be applied. Without the earlier period of training the opportunity to apply math would not have been noticed and the skills would not have been available.

Shinzen Young describes the concept of shifting the baseline level of clarity, concentration and equanimity. Intense practise can allow for "breakthroughs" that may not otherwise happen.



I have not taken an official tally or anyting but those that make it far down the paths seem to be working on it all day, not just for a few hours at designated times. 
-Eva


Experience seems very diverse. On DhO I think you are right because there is a lot of emphasis on noting and that can be applied throughout the day. But other methods like direct pointing would not be so applicable. Ritual practises can require very controlled circumstances so again they are not going to occur during the day.

If you consider the eightfold path then there is a large part of it that cannot be practised on the cushion and likewise a part of it that probably can't be practised off the cushion.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/17/15 12:48 AM as a reply to Eva Nie.
Eva M Nie:
Mark:
Psi:
Mark:
A
So, I do think that the narrative thinking about the actions, the planning on how to do better, the visualizations and whatnot does play a part in training for competitive sports.  But, perhaps while actually playing, if one is in narration mode, it is like having a governor on the engine, or a distracting commentator needlessly reporting every movement,  belatedly.



Yes it certainly seems to particularly mess up timing!

Well depends on the sport.  I like fast sports and there's typically not much time for narrative once the point starts.  You are typically strained just to monitor where all the players are located and moving, decide who gets and goes where on my side, and if it's my shot, I will want to both choose a shot according to ability and strengths and location of other players and also execute that shot.  Immediately upon execution, I will want to be already moving to my correct position on the court and the process continues until someone misses.  If I can get that much observation in, I am doing well.  The majority of my narrative comes between points when there is time to think.  When I am really in the zone though, it's more like instinct instead of narrative.  My goal with the narrative is often to get to where I am more in the zone and don't need the narrative as much.  ;-P   
Yes, I agree, there is a time for narrative , and a time for thinking and planning, and there is a time for just playing out of instinct.
And, yes, thoughts can be used as triggers, to trigger different states of mind.  

As relating to Awakening and Enlightenment, and also to Competitive Sports.

What about this proposition.  Thoughts can be a tool.  Thoughts are a sensation that arise within the mind.  People can either use the thoughts as tools....  Or, be slave to the thoughts that arise.  Same with other sensations, Slaves to hunger sensations or sexual sensations, for instance.

So, is it then that we can either shape, form and manipulate these thoughts for our own benefit, or be enslaved to the thinking process as it arises and just react instinctively, thinking we are the thoughts.

It seems it all goes back to different mind modes, or states of consciousness.

 Planning and contemplative thought, which is beneficial for both Awakening, Daily Living and Competitive sports.   

And Discursive, Random Thoughts, which is not beneficial for either Awakening, Daily Living or Competitive Sports.

Then there is Flow and Pure Mindfulness, probably same or similar states of consciousness, and this has its place too, in both sports and daily living.


Well, and besides all that,  there is the ole hitting the fastball studies, fastball is travelling too fast for planning or thinking, yet people hit the ball where they want to different sweet spots in the outfield , and so on.

https://www.braindecoder.com/your-brain-on-fastball-1141094402.html

Great, a spider just crawled across me, and now I can not find it!  Guess I have a sleeping buddy...

Ha! caught it with an empty glass and a piece of paper, it is free and gets to live outside, Goodnight!!!

Psiderman

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/17/15 3:44 AM as a reply to Eva Nie.
Eva M Nie:
Mark:
Psi:
Mark:
A
So, I do think that the narrative thinking about the actions, the planning on how to do better, the visualizations and whatnot does play a part in training for competitive sports.  But, perhaps while actually playing, if one is in narration mode, it is like having a governor on the engine, or a distracting commentator needlessly reporting every movement,  belatedly.



Yes it certainly seems to particularly mess up timing!

Well depends on the sport.  I like fast sports and there's typically not much time for narrative once the point starts.  You are typically strained just to monitor where all the players are located and moving, decide who gets and goes where on my side, and if it's my shot, I will want to both choose a shot according to ability and strengths and location of other players and also execute that shot.  Immediately upon execution, I will want to be already moving to my correct position on the court and the process continues until someone misses.  If I can get that much observation in, I am doing well.  The majority of my narrative comes between points when there is time to think.  When I am really in the zone though, it's more like instinct instead of narrative.  My goal with the narrative is often to get to where I am more in the zone and don't need the narrative as much.  ;-P   
I'm not sure if we are talking about the same things. I agree there is not time to build a narrative in a fast sport, during individual points, there are many things taking concentration. But even in the fastest sports I think there is the possibility of thoughts interfering with actions. For example the delay between starting a swing and hitting a ball is very short but there is time for conscious thought to interfere - for example a voice saying where to hit the ball that may modify the swing and more often than not results in a poor shot.

Thoughts can form narratives, like a story about how important the next point is but they can also be very simple concepts like "don't double fault" which can occur in an extremely short period of time. Are you noticing those sorts of thoughts ?

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/18/15 10:41 AM as a reply to Psi.
Psi:


What about this proposition.  Thoughts can be a tool.  Thoughts are a sensation that arise within the mind.  People can either use the thoughts as tools....  Or, be slave to the thoughts that arise.  Same with other sensations, Slaves to hunger sensations or sexual sensations, for instance.

So, is it then that we can either shape, form and manipulate these thoughts for our own benefit, or be enslaved to the thinking process as it arises and just react instinctively, thinking we are the thoughts.

It seems it all goes back to different mind modes, or states of consciousness.

 Planning and contemplative thought, which is beneficial for both Awakening, Daily Living and Competitive sports.   

And Discursive, Random Thoughts, which is not beneficial for either Awakening, Daily Living or Competitive Sports.

Then there is Flow and Pure Mindfulness, probably same or similar states of consciousness, and this has its place too, in both sports and daily living.


Well, and besides all that,  there is the ole hitting the fastball studies, fastball is travelling too fast for planning or thinking, yet people hit the ball where they want to different sweet spots in the outfield , and so on.

https://www.braindecoder.com/your-brain-on-fastball-1141094402.html

Interesting, I actually played badminton for many years and shuttles go a LOT faster than fast baseballs.  Fastest recorded was 262mph, it's the ffastest racket sport and the space between hitter and receiver is a LOT shorter as well.  Plus you are likely to have to run to your spot before you hit the bird and may be strstretched out or still moving at times.  You don't get to just stand there and wait for it with perfect stance set up in advance.  ;-P  Your only comparitive advantage is that the racket has larger surface area than a bat, but you will still need to hit close to the middle if you want to make a decent return shot.  In comparison, the fastest tennis serve ever recorded was 163mph and their court is much longer.         
With those kinds of speeds, the analysis of that article is blown out of the water, badminton should not be possible yet it is.  I remember reading long ago that scientists's understanding of how fast brain signals could travel did not correlate with observed sports reactions times which were way to fast to be explained by signals traveling to and from the brain.  Scientists could not explain the fast reactions and hypothesized that the body must be operating at times with out the signal making it to the brain. 

IME, the body sometimes just sometimes does stuff on it's own when the sport gets too fast, the more the body takes over, the better the shots too.  Seems like the body can hit perfect killer shots if the brain is totally out of the way.  I don't know what happens then, but seems like some kind of subconscious awareness process that happens and is running the body if the mind will get out of the way and let it.  People will tell me it was a great shot but I will be at stunned as them when it happens!  It's kinda like performing like the movie The Matrix.  Too bad I only do it once in a while for a second or two!  ;-P  I suspect others just chalk it up to a lucky shot when they perform similarly but it's interesting if you really look at what your mind was doing (or not doing) when such shots occur.

Anyway, yeah, I agree, thought IMO is a tool.  When it is there, just understand it and use it wisely.  I know in the past on others threads there was much discussion on getting rid of thought.  Personally, I suspect it is there for a reason and I consider it a tool.  I have also found that if the tool is well understood, it runs more efficiently and tends to quiet on its own.  There was a discussion in which someone said something to the effect that if you use thought to quiet thought, using a computer analogy, it would be like running yet antoher program on the computer, perhaps called 'methods to to deal with your stuff program' or whatever, which would be yet another program running and yet more yammering thought.  The idea being that using thought to quell thought was not a good idea. 

I spent some time thinking about it and from my experience, while  that might be true at first, IME once the stuff is actually dealt with, the yammering of the stuff stops and the 'fixing the stuff' program also stops.  I would liken it more, if we were to continue the use of computers as an analogy, of running a virus killer program.  At first, there may be viruses hogging processor power.  The user than runs virus killer programs.  Then the computer is using a ton of processor with all those programs runnign at once, but once the viruses are sorted out, those stop, plus the virus killer program also terminates, end result being less yammer than you started with.  ANyway, I think that works good for the daytime normal hours, not saying you want to initiate such yammer while on the cushion though, even the mind needs to take a rest sometimes.  Just that from my experience, if you can effectively deal with your stuff, the useless mental chatter really drops on its own.  Seems like most of the mental chatter is driven by stuff and habit, which I think are both highly intertwined (I don't have much opinion on concepts of things like karma influences that are sometimes also said to influence).
-Eva    

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/18/15 11:05 AM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
I'm not sure if we are talking about the same things. I agree there is not time to build a narrative in a fast sport, during individual points, there are many things taking concentration. But even in the fastest sports I think there is the possibility of thoughts interfering with actions. For example the delay between starting a swing and hitting a ball is very short but there is time for conscious thought to interfere - for example a voice saying where to hit the ball that may modify the swing and more often than not results in a poor shot.

Thoughts can form narratives, like a story about how important the next point is but they can also be very simple concepts like "don't double fault" which can occur in an extremely short period of time. Are you noticing those sorts of thoughts ?
I do see certain players have probs with changing their mind about where to hit a shot and missing at times when that happens.  Could be they had time to think or tried to have time to think.  Personally I don't seem to do that, once i decide, I don't typically change the plan, I just don't have time.  For the double fault thing, that is a thought I may have to grapple before I start a point, ie right before a point.  In some schools of thought, like NLP, they advocate that saying 'don't' is a bad plan becuase the brain processes in the following order, by first understanding concept of 'double fault' and then adding the concept 'don't' to it.  End result is you are partly telling yourself to double fault when you say don't double fault.  There is in fact some evidence to suggest this might be the case as small children often have trouble with 'don't do blah blah' type commands.  For instance, instead of telling a child 'don't write on the walls' there is evidence that something like 'crayons are for paper' might work better.  It's like small children have difficulty processing the negative part of the sentence.  

Anyway, so back to the in game point, I rarely have time for a fully formed thought, maybe occasionally if the ball is running mostly to my partner that can happen though.  If the ball comes to me suddenly then when I am thinking narrative, my performance may not be good so I try to avoid doing that.  A lot of shots missed on my part are from a millisecond of inattention.  Other times, I may have kind of half formed thoughts, more like a feeling almost.  Like when you meditate and you can see that a thought is just starting to form and could either blossom into a full thought or kind of subside and you just get a vague feeling of it but couldn't really describe it, sometimes I can feel that kind of unformed/almost formed thought and yes, those will influence my game as well. I have to eespecially be careful of any subtle feelings of inadequacy, those seem to be one of my main enemies.  I will hit like I feel, if I feel inadequate, my shot will typically reflect it in kind.  For instance, sometimes when the pressure is on, I may feel like I don't want to get the ball hit to me for fear I will not be able to perform well enough, such a feeling tends to lead to me not performing well enough!  Whereas a feeling like I can get it and do it well tends to lead to that instead.  Kind of like when Yoda said, "Do not try, do."  Trying insinuates insecurity that you can't do it, which is IMO, not the best mind set.
-Eva         

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/20/15 4:13 AM as a reply to Eva Nie.
Eva M Nie:

Personally I don't seem to do that, once i decide, I don't typically change the plan, I just don't have time. For the double fault thing, that is a thought I may have to grapple before I start a point, ie right before a point.  


That is quite a different experience - interesting. If I consider a serve, from the time I'm tossing the ball until the time of impact there seems to be a lot of opportunity for thoughts to arise. For example I am conscious if the toss is good or bad. At the time of impact there can also be an analysis of whether the strike is good or bad and if it is bad often an idea of what was "wrong" e.g. not snapping the wrist enough. Often before the ball reaches the net I have an idea if the serve was good or bad - this is all some sort of thinking as I see it. It is often not verbalised - there is not enough time. But very short words might slip in if I am not concentrating well e.g. "no", "shit", "yes", "great"

 
Other times, I may have kind of half formed thoughts, more like a feeling almost.  Like when you meditate and you can see that a thought is just starting to form and could either blossom into a full thought or kind of subside and you just get a vague feeling of it but couldn't really describe it, sometimes I can feel that kind of unformed/almost formed thought and yes, those will influence my game as well.


This is perhaps closer to what I'm including as thought - it can be tempting to see it as "feeling" but I would associate feeling with physical sensation in the body - for example stress might be felt in the stomach or nervousness as instability in the legs.

Thoughts are different as I see it - firstly they can be much much faster than feelings. Perhaps you are assuming that thoughts must be narratives. For example the "inner critic" is one process that often creates narratives. But consciously attending to some aspect of a shot is also some sort of thinking and that can happen without verbalisation and extremely quickly. I'm also pretty sure that type of thinking makes is harder to get into a state of flow.

Yesterday I noticed getting annoyed before a shot was even finished because I knew the impact point was "wrong" and the ball would go out. I suspect that thinking is really not helping!

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/20/15 12:06 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
Eva M Nie:

Personally I don't seem to do that, once i decide, I don't typically change the plan, I just don't have time. For the double fault thing, that is a thought I may have to grapple before I start a point, ie right before a point.  


That is quite a different experience - interesting. If I consider a serve, from the time I'm tossing the ball until the time of impact there seems to be a lot of opportunity for thoughts to arise. For example I am conscious if the toss is good or bad. At the time of impact there can also be an analysis of whether the strike is good or bad and if it is bad often an idea of what was "wrong" e.g. not snapping the wrist enough. Often before the ball reaches the net I have an idea if the serve was good or bad - this is all some sort of thinking as I see it. It is often not verbalised - there is not enough time. But very short words might slip in if I am not concentrating well e.g. "no", "shit", "yes", "great"
Ok, yeah, sometimes a short word can get in like those you just mentioned, although I find that anything other than 'out' for when it is out or 'mine' or 'yours' when needed, is a distraction that takes away from better focus.  Well event those 3 are a kind of distraction but they contribute in other ways obviously.  For the serve, I don't play tennis so we don't through the ball up,  The ball is let go just the tiniest millisecond before the racket makes contract so there is really no time to be thinking.  For tennis, although I did not play it much, I found that I did have time to think longer thoughts.  The ball moves much slower and the court is longer, you have to start the swing earlier due to the heavier racket and you may need that extra time because you may need to run a longer distance is all, skill/training is more predominant over reflex  (although of course you need both), and there is more time in that process to have thoughts was my experience.     

 
Other times, I may have kind of half formed thoughts, more like a feeling almost.  Like when you meditate and you can see that a thought is just starting to form and could either blossom into a full thought or kind of subside and you just get a vague feeling of it but couldn't really describe it, sometimes I can feel that kind of unformed/almost formed thought and yes, those will influence my game as well.


This is perhaps closer to what I'm including as thought - it can be tempting to see it as "feeling" but I would associate feeling with physical sensation in the body - for example stress might be felt in the stomach or nervousness as instability in the legs.

Thoughts are different as I see it - firstly they can be much much faster than feelings. Perhaps you are assuming that thoughts must be narratives. For example the "inner critic" is one process that often creates narratives. But consciously attending to some aspect of a shot is also some sort of thinking and that can happen without verbalisation and extremely quickly. I'm also pretty sure that type of thinking makes is harder to get into a state of flow.

Yesterday I noticed getting annoyed before a shot was even finished because I knew the impact point was "wrong" and the ball would go out. I suspect that thinking is really not helping!
Well I have definitely had it where I hit a shot and then knew right away that it was going out, into the net, a set up for the other side or whatever.  But that was after the shot, I'd say it was some other millisecond of lack of focus that caused the original mistake before the shot though.  But yeah, I think we are using diff terminology for a similar thing.  I consider thoughts to be some kind of word type narrative.  If they are more preemergent, they feel more like an emotion to me, they are just a feeling but perhaps not developed enough to be labeled emotion either.  Often thoughts and feelings are so intertwined anyway, like a feeling of fear and inadequacy combined with words like 'Uh oh, that guy hits really good and I just set him up.'  What would you call the fetal version of such a feeling thought?  It's a subtle nuance that effects my outcome, not sure how else to describe it. 

But observation of those processes in the mind and how they correlate with performance are interesting and I've found that when all those nonuseful thought-feeings are gone, there is a natural joy and relaxation and also a much greater skill that comes out in my game.  The last time it happened, the condition also spread to my partner and we totally dominated, beating teams that usually stomp us.  But beyond just winning or losing, that state is just a very peaceful joyful one and so worth cultivating.  Seems like it's 'just' a matter of sweeping away all the nonuseful thoughts.   I think that is part of the reason I like to play these days, the more I succeed at getting that in the zone kind of concentration in the game, the more that centered even keel feeling lingers through the rest of the day as well.  IME, the best play involves very much a kind of zen like zone you want to be in, like a kind of moving concentration meditation, the side effects seem similar to regular meditation except you also get exercise and the concentration can require more focus with so many other factors competing with attention.  Anyway, working with mental states during the game has given me a lot more to think about and work with lately and definitely gives some new dimensions to the play.  ;-P
-Eva