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Feel vs. Real

Updated: May 29, 2020

A popular response from both players and coaches in recent times has been the concept of feel vs. real, in particular how when making a movement how it feels to the player is often described by the coach that it isn’t real. Unfortunately so much of this statement is both inaccurate and unhelpful on many levels. Let’s start to pick through this and attempt to provide some accuracy and understanding as to why feel is very real...

Rather than feel vs. real, a more accurate definition is proprioception vs. perception. One’s spatial awareness vs. how they perceived the movement. Now you may well say isn’t this the same, to which my response is absolutely no. Allow me to explain why.

As we approach Christmas, one of the wonderful memories we have is how we remember and recall our Christmas’ when young, for many we remember them in a romantic, idyllic way however the reality is they rarely were. Therefore the first question we can look at is what’s more important, the actual story or how someone remembers and tells the story themselves?

How does this relate to movement? Movement ‘feel’ is based around four main considerations: Perception – the humans understanding of the task

Affordance – how the human interacts with the task and understands how the task is to be completed and what the opportunities are.

Constraints - the constraints around the task, human and environment that will influence task completion and movement pattern.

Convention – assumptions we make before even exploring the movement/task. Allow me to expand on these.

How someone perceives the movement will essentially help set the concept of what they are attempting to achieve. Almost instantaneously this can be referenced against what they perceive to be true as invariably movement evokes memory as quite often during sessions, post being presented with information, this almost automatically provokes a response based on a memory, for example “I remember doing this years ago”...”when I did this I won an event”...”this movement created wrist pain”... Therefore much of the acceptance of a perception will be based on what the player perceives to be true or to be more precise whether they believe the movement to be helpful and one they feel will add value or vice versa, not true, remove value and unhelpful. This essentially connects back to their learning history and the formation of the concepts they currently have. However allowing for this, how someone perceives the task will then start a response into how it can be completed. An affordance is created from the perception and allows the human to sense and interact with the object, task and environment in certain ways. Constraints can present in multiple formats, tangible ones being the constraints of the task, for example from the fairway in golf the ball must be hit off the ground, anatomical constraints, examples being joint ranges, muscle physiology, biomechanics and environmental constraints such as wind, slope, lie, out of bounds etc.. However, there are also non tangible constraints, most notably how you chose to see things. Two of the biggest issues humans are addicted to are what create most problems, thought and memory as much of human suffering connects to thought and memory. Finally, conventions are the assumptions we make on observing before we explore the task/movement which applies to many things in life. Ok, so what can we observe from this is what’s more important, what the player perceives to be true rather than what is actually true?, which also applies to coaches. Therefore what the player feels is extremely real and most definitely not untrue to them as what coaches need to acknowledge is the history behind the feel and why it feels to them in the way it does. Subsequently, a place to start is to understand what their feel is being referenced against and for many this will be time/history which is why history is so important in life as to understand now and the future we need to understand how we arrived at where we currently are.

Let’s now relate this to the system and how we can help players create perceptions based on how they see the world rather than how they are being ‘told’ what’s true and how things ‘should’ feel. Told and should, rather than explore and could... Through the new strobe functionality in the system, I have experienced a staggering response to imagery and how when presented with the opportunity the players understanding, perceptions, connection to their history, feels etc. accelerate significantly in an extremely accurate way. Much of learning connects back to what it means to the human, so when showed an image for example of how their pelvis is moving through impact, when asked the question “based on what you see what does this mean to you?” this will create an internal representation for them. When given the opportunity and asked the right question, humans invariably have the answer and in my experience not one player I have taken this approach to date has not been able to perceive their movement, make the necessary associations as to what needs adjusting and then display and show the movement they would like to make. What has become very evident with this approach is by saying nothing and using this function we say everything. This can provoke very powerful response as it is often as this stage where great growth and the emergence of new skills arrive. Japanese Buddhism refer to this as the Shoshin, the beginner mindset. Beginners see great growth and opportunity where experts see minor gain, our role it to create the shoshin.

Once they have perceived the movement and made the associations, this can then reveal much such as the accuracy of the movement, any possible anatomical constraints and imbalances they are attempting to move around, concepts of what they are trying to achieve and perhaps of most importance their movement and learning history. Our role then becomes more about refining the move rather than creating the move.

Let uses an example of how someone’s ribcage is achieving rotation in backswing, the right hand image Is of a healthy ribcage/spine movement, the left hand image is an unhealthy ribcage/spine movement, based on the two images what does this mean to you and if you were moving (you may well be!) like the left hand image, what do you think needs to be adjusted?

Therefore is feel real? Absolutely yes. Does spatial awareness match accurately perception, initially for some no. Our role is to create the opportunity to move well and provide the ability for the player to explore and discuss how it could feel, rather than how it should feel. Should vs could...?

To end this short review, let’s allow players to see the world the way they wish to see it, let’s create competent movement not successful movement as the word success creates many issues. Firstly who is defining what success is and invariably success connects to ego. Let’s be competent movers, competent enough to win The Open, competent enough to win the club tournament etc....

One of the main priorities of the system is to help allow you as the coach to see the world the way you wish to, therefore the strobe function not only provides and allows the player to see the way they move it also allows the coach to see it the way they do as well. Also, much of the strobe function will be decided by the coaches imagination, much of the good responses I have had is through creativity of what to display, how to display it and what to sync/display it against.

Therefore next time someone said to you feel isn’t real, really.......? Real to who, you or them?

Below are some additional examples of how the strobe function can be used.

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