During the darkest hour of the recent pandemic, I started reading articles about sports psychology. It began with an article on the BBC news website about a phenomenon known as “Quiet Eye” that can be identified in certain elite athletes, but also in mediocre athletes who suddenly go on a “streak” (I’ll have more to say about that in another post). My interest in that article led me to more sources: sports journalism, scientific studies and science writing in various media. In short, I started to wonder how contemporary writings about sports psychology might apply to tournament kayak fishing.
I started asking questions about what’s happening in my body when I am fishing. How is physical exhaustion relation to mental fatigue? What are my eyeballs doing in relation to what my hands are doing? Can I identify patterns of movement and thought – decisions I make – from the countless hours of video I record? What is my brain doing? I began noticing things, and I started writing them up.
This first installment uses a recent run of good results as a starting point to explore some of those questions. Maybe I’m jinxing myself by reflecting on it during the hot streak, but I’m not superstitious (unless it’s my football team). I’m also trying to figure out how it happened after a major surgery that seems to have cleared my mind as my body healed. It seemed counter-intuitive: wouldn’t my recovery impede strong performances. Or did the extended period of trauma and recovery do something that helped me succeed on the water?
I’ll introduce some terminology and basic concepts, then proceed to results and speculation. I have no preconceived notions; like stars in the night sky, curiosity and experience guide me.Continue reading