Developing Fluent, Efficient, and Automatic Repertoires of Athletic Performance

Chapter

Abstract

Some years back, the first author was conversing with a catcher for a minor league baseball team and asked the naïve question, “So what do you think about when deciding where to throw the ball to make a play?” The catcher immediately replied, “There’s no time to think, I just react automatically. If you have to think, then it’s already too late.” This statement captures the essence of much of the research reviewed in this chapter. Namely, accomplished athletes in a variety of domains (e.g., fast ball sports, team sports, martial arts) are able to execute complex chains of behavior so accurately and quickly in response to changing situations that their performance appears both effortless and automatic. In interactive sports, master athletes seem at times to move in unison with their opponents as if in a coordinated dance, rather than in response to the other’s actions (Ueshiba, 1987). In individual sports such as golf, elite players are known for their ability to consistently execute difficult shots under seemingly impossible conditions (e.g., Phil Mickelson’s 200+ yard shot from behind a tree on pine straw during the 2010 Masters Tournament that landed only feet away from the 13th pin).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologySyracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA
  2. 2.College of Health SciencesAppalachian State UniversityBooneUSA

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