In my humble opinion the article: ‘Are ‘Dumb Jocks’ really Nerds? http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/27/is-the-dumb-jock-really-a-nerd/?_r=0 touches on the critical reasons that the Sport of Squash, known to few and utterly misunderstood by most, offers an unparalleled opportunity for human beings to maintain and hone the essential assets required for success and continued evolution both as individuals and as a species.
Decisions to adopt and perfect specific skills are made with the conscious mind – by thinking and deciding. However the conscious mind is an appallingly inefficient survival tool and it is only by using our subconscious mind – or by ‘feeling’ that we are able to make complex survival decisions at hyper speed.
Hence an athlete that attempts to ‘think’ their way through a pressure situation will never be able to compete with an athlete who can ‘feel’ what needs to be done.
The conscious mind is employed in the learning process to interpret and assimilate the new behavior and once the new behavior is adequate for use in the heat of battle it is then stored in the sub conscious mind where it adds to the arsenal of existing possible choices that the subconscious mind is able to call on when needed.
In addition the conscious or ‘thinking’ mind suffers not only from a lack of speed in decision making but also the interference of emotion. If an athlete (or indeed a human being) uses the conscious mind to assess their ability to cope with a situation, the ‘thinking’ mind is subject to hesitation produced by emotional questions such as ‘whether or not’ the task can be successfully achieved. The subconscious mind is a-emotional and simply presents a menu of choices as to how to cope and then earmarks the best option. There is no discussion about the likelihood of success simply the presentation of the most efficient method.
This can be seen in situations such as a cyclist suddenly confronted by a truck coming in the opposite direction on a narrow road, deftly maneuvering to avoid a collision. Only later when the conscious mind catches up with the swift actions of the subconscious mind does shock and fear invade the system.
The truth is that the academics have harnessed the dubious capacity of the conscious mind more than ordinary folk, but in doing so they have neglected the subconscious which is more powerful than its feeble relative by a massive factor – perhaps the relationship is as disproportionate as that of the Sun to the Earth?
Whatever the case, we need both the ‘thinkers’ and the much more rapid ‘feelers’ for our success/ survival and until the ‘thinkers’ appreciate the importance of ‘feelers’ and show them some appreciation they will continue to promote the conscious mind and neglect the subconscious – which in the long term will weaken us all.
As an interesting note when on that winter day on the tram Albert Einstein suddenly understood his Special Theory of Relativity he later said that he couldn’t really explain it. He instinctively knew it was correct even though he couldn’t at that moment say why.
Could it be that he just ‘felt’ it? And how many ancestors of his survived by honing survival skills and automatic behavior in order to produce that ability to feel something so unique?
Mens Sana in corpore Sano.
We need both.
Published by millmansquash
Richard Millman, a world renowned Squash Professional, has trained children, high school students, and adults to achieve all levels of proficiency and realize the enjoyment they derive from squash. A multiple time National Coach for the United States, Richard has steered many teams to championships and successes! His students include British Junior Open Champion, Michelle Quibell, as well as multiple National junior and adult champions. With his wife Pat, England’s 2010 Captain of the Ladies over 55+ team, and 2010 US National Champion over 55, Richard brought his vision and enthusiasm for this sport to the United States. A regular contributor to Squash Magazine, Richard is also the co-author of "Raising Big Smiling Squash Kids," with Georgetta Morque, and "Angles, A Squash Anthology."
Richard's 30 year love for Squash is infectious. His love for kids is infectious. Put these two loves together, and you can't help but want to get involved as well.
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