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Unique “Skill”

24Janpm2012

OK, I have to try this even though I know I am rolling a big rock up a big hill. My hope is that because of the performance of some particular and peculiar athletes at this point in history, the “anomaly” may be recognized for what they might be. I am speaking of two guys in particular, but they are merely the headline getters. For a team that might well be made up of the same kind of person, I suggest that the Las Vegas hockey team of last year, who made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in their first year of organization may provide a book that can be read. Understanding, it, though, is a whole nother matter.

As I type this I see talking heads on ESPN trying to put Patrick Mahomes in a box that they are comfortable with! And, that ties right into the formation of the Golden Knights hockey team. The same analysis has been applied to Kawhi Leonard.

Each of the players of that team were left off a list of protected players from other teams in the NHL. Well, for those guys out there, there may be some other players picked up by other means, but the bulk of the team were picked from existing teams and represented a choice by the team they were on. That choice had to reflect, to some extent, the evaluation of that team, by those who are in charge of such things, that their remaining value was not as good as others. Heck, the goalie from Pittsburgh had won a Stanley Cup for them. But, and that is the big but, he was clearly an odd ball and had some performances that just bewildered any talking head or metric measurer who cared to look into it.

I presume, that a number of other “selectees” fell into the same category: falling into the odd ball bowl. I will now extempore on the subject about I wish to express myself. There may be science behind some of what I speak, and I don’t have every single fact, so argue away on that. This is pure observational analysis based upon a lifetime of living, which happened to include traveling around the world to solve commercial disagreements of some magnitude. It also includes playing 5 organized sports as a kid, through high school and on through adult life. (I am one of the odd balls of which I speak, but I only recognized how that allowed me to succeed in many different environments, including three distinct foci in the legal profession. Perhaps the door of understanding was opened for me as a foreman in a steel mill.)

Let’s go to the start of a player in a sport. And, I will use basketball because I believe it provides a great example and one that I know. I also know baseball, football, swimming and track & field, but basketball is the same for every player and all of those other sports have the possibility of a specialty that separates one right from the start. I am thinking about 6th grade level starting, but it probably starts earlier now for many, which makes the divide I am about to describe even more emphasized by those who coach and measure progress.

On the very first day of basketball introduction, dribbling and passing/catching will be covered. Much of that will be in a standstill kind of situation, with some focus on dribbling while raising your eyes up to the person instructing the situation. Eventually, though, the primary movement thing that will be taught will be the layup drill. Everyone who had been to a basketball game has seen the layup line for warm up before a game begins, but that line is the principle teacher of how a layup should be made. From the right side you go off your left foot so the right hand can get high. Opposite on the left side. Once that “technique” is shown to the kids, it is repeated over and over. Now, the first thing that those that know will say is that the repetitive nature of the drill teaches “muscle memory”.

Here’s the thing. For the average person. The person who has learned not to trust their instinctive reaction. The person that learns things by being shown by others (sensory learning as opposed to intuitive learning, scientifically). Those with average intelligence and average spatial awareness, etc. The muscle memory is, perhaps, a necessary step. For the odd ball, though, it is merely boring to do something over and over, which you got on the first time you did it. I never realized this myself until reflecting upon the life I lived, and after being asked by my grandson, “Why do you expect me to get something the first time?” My kids never asked me that, so I didn’t get that I picked up new things readily. The first time I fly fished the guy who took me was stunned to learn that I had never tried it before. When I told him that I had seen it on TV he just shook his head. The guy was a classic sensor learner and could not comprehend that my acceptance of intuitive learning allowed for first time awareness.

As a kid, I immediately started experimenting with alternative footwork and handwork during a layup drill. My coaches, I now understand, thought I was goofing off. No, I was allowing for the fact that other people would be trying to stop my layup and my footwork and handwork might have to be adjusted. I did not articulate that to myself, which takes me, and you, into the room in which Mahomes and Leonard are comfortable, I THINK!

When each of us is an infant, the only way we initially learn is by relying upon our instinctive reaction. As soon as we do that we open ourselves to being corrected by parents, or other bigger people responsible for our actions at such time. This eventually extends to teachers and coaches. (Eventually, it gets to “bosses”, but let’s set that aside.) Most people learn to not trust their instinctive reaction to circumstances. To question it, if you will. Perhaps their intuition reaction has proved to be deficient in some respect, in which case they are self taught not to trust it. Heck, that has to happen to some people and I am guessing, based upon a life of living, that that it applies to the majority. Which means that learning to control intuition is a valuable first step for the average person. By observation, everyone now acknowledges that Mahomes and Leonard are NOT AVERAGE. Understanding “why” that is, though, is beyond those that have to accept that trusting intuitive reaction is not a good idea. What, however, if Mahones and Leonard exemplify the person who never had to doubt their intuitive reaction?

Wow, if you can get into that room, now think about what that means. Set aside, for a minute, that both Mahones and Leonard have great physical attributes in support of what their mind conveys to the various muscles that result in movement. Even with other physically adept people in play, there is a factor of “time” that gives a unique and substantive advantage to the person who has no doubt about their intuitive reaction such that they stay out of the way between their brain and their muscles. Think about that for a minute, without trying to put it in a box that you understand. Very few people get to adulthood without learning to question their intuitive reaction, even if for just a split second. Ah, think about that. To question your instinctive reaction, but to decide quickly is a rare thing in itself, and that makes for quicker decisions by those who do so. However, think about that equation without even the need for a decision because “it” was made by your intuitive trust.

Now, the first thing that jumps out is that the person relying upon intuitive reaction will get to the answer quicker. Here, though, is a thought for you: the person who operates purely on intuitive reaction, because it has never let them down, ends up picking a “path” in so doing. Picking a path is better than merely being faster/quicker – because it requires yet another “choice” by anyone who would try to modify what you are doing.

There you go. There is more, but that MAY be why Mahomes and Leonard stand out in ways that around which a bow has not been tied. If so, it is likely that even they are not aware of, or more likely bother to care about, the “why” of their ability to stand out. They merely “do” it and accept it.

I have way more on this subject, so if anyone gets even a hint of understanding, feel free to touch base. (This was typed and published without proofing or review, perhaps Hunter Thompson like.)

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