The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

What do you do if someone takes a hard, dense, frozen piece of vulcanized rubber, and launches it in your general direction at around 90 miles an hour? If you're a hockey player--a good hockey player, mind you--you go out of your way to get in front of it.

This article reminded me of a discussion I had with some friends over lunch, a long while back. Someone was telling us about their kid or grandkid, who was just starting out in sports for the very first time, and how the main lesson being impressed on the kid was to get in front of the ball, rather than out of it's way. I pointed out that this is key in sports, and that in fact, it goes against basic survival instincts--i.e., to avoid potential pain or harm, by avoiding contact with a fast-moving projectile. Much of learning to play in sports, and even continuing sports training, consists of one simple rule: Ignore your basic survival instincts, and put your body on the line.

So, when a line-drive ball, or a puck, or even a defensive tackle, is coming right at you, the natural reaction to save yourself and duck out of the way is, for sports purposes, actually wrong. Thinking about this further, I realize that just about every contact sport revolves around this principle. Something to ponder.