February 5, 2013

BRAINAn experienced music teacher or athletic coach knows that the body will often forget what the mind remembers. To see an example of this phenomenon, watch a golf or tennis match. The professional golfer knows exactly where he wants the ball to go. He knows which club to use for the right distance, how much pressure to put into the swing, how to position his body, etc. etc. and yet he will sometimes land in a sand trap. His brain knows how, so why doesn’t the body do what the brain instructs it to do?

The psychologists say the body has a mind of its own that can rapidly forget. This is why sports players have a warm up period. It’s not just to heat up the muscles or warm up the fingers, it is to help the body to recall the pace, the stroke, the timing.

In a sense, thinking is fatal in most sports. If a player has time to think about a shot–if he has time to consciously consider–he is more likely to flub it than with a shot he has no time to consider– where he reacts with lightning-fast conditioned reflex.

The whole point in practicing every day is to give the body no time to forget its conditioning. If the mind has to consciously take over, the body loses its speed, its precision, its fullest coordination.

So why is this mentioned? One reason is that it might improve your golf or tennis game, and/or remind you to show up to school or work every day. It might be interesting to pass on what the psychologists know so well–that the body tends to begin forgetting every day what it learned yesterday. The body’s knowledge is not reinforced by memory but must be wound up daily like a watch.