July 7, 2022 7:32 pm

Skill in Relation to Time

Skill and time are highly related. How does a highly skilled athlete or performer relate to and take advantage of time?

When a highly skilled pitcher throws a ball, he knows how long it takes for his arm to climb into position before he can accelerate the ball towards home. A wide receiver can percieve the speed of the football coming at him to measure how quickly the give in his hands should be when he catches the ball. A golfer has to wait for the club and body to be in certain positions before initiating the next phase of the swing (this happens more than once within a high level swing). Learning the relationship to time is the root of a basketball player developing touch in his shot.

Building the correct perception of these events is the number one reason why you cannot skip practice and high volumes of repetitions. Practicing movements in a vacuum and other partial practices have their place and can aid the overall effort towards improvement, but they cannot replace a high volume and recency of repetition. 

Your brain will warp your sense of time in relation to your craft the longer you spend away from practicing and playing. This is the cause of some of the most bizarre issues I have had to fix as a coach (and experienced as an athlete), but also are often times remedied simply by a few rounds of high volume repetition and REM cycles.

The other main relation with time is learning how long events take during game competition. Learning how to occupy your mind productively during down time can be an immense advantage. The most effective use of real down time is practicing simple patience and mindfulness, so as to keep you present but not spend mental and physical resources. True down time in competition is rare though, and usually happens due to an injury timeout, a manager straining his relationship with an umpire, or some other oddity.

Competition involves other flows and interactions with time that are very important. For example, understanding how long it takes to complete 18 hole rounds, and learning how to be sizing up your next shot while your playing partners are searching for or playing their ball. An incorrect presumption of how much time your playing partners might take can influence the focus on your shot. You may be irritable and impatient, instead of understanding the flow of events and letting your turn to hit naturally come up and be peaking in concentration for that moment.

All sports have this relationship with time in regards to periods of inaction and then action, and the best competitors seamlessly move from moment to moment in a rehearsed and appropriate fashion.