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I've been working closely with Mark McGrath since October 2007 in which time we've spent most of our time exploring more effective movement patterns. Mark's approach to maximising my body's output has been different to many of the approaches before and encompasses the body as a whole rather than...
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Holistic Coaching: Using Pure Task and Self-Understanding to Direct Development
What I am sharing below is an edited transcript from an authentic email I received from an athlete I am working with, who was asking for guidance. I share it to outline a way of Coaching that integrates all areas of Development into a seamless whole.
I am encouraging the Athlete to take their stand as Awareness, so that Body, Mind and Task can be seen clearly in their functioning. When we identify with a way of thinking, or a conditioned perspective, we lose the ability to see the ‘happening’ as it is. This transcript is an example of approaching one’s professional development with this level of Understanding.
Remember, in this perspective the individual is not the Subject of Experience, One is taking their stand as Awareness as the Subject of Experience. You will find that if you do the Actual Experiment, you will accelerate improvement in all areas because you are eradicating the main Cause of Limitation; a Conditioned Perspective.
This is the basis of Vertical Development, where the previous Subject of Experience is seen as Object. This is already happening in your own Development, this process makes it explicit, and all feedback occurs from the standpoint of Awareness.
“Thanks for taking the time, energy and honesty to summarise where your Understanding is At. Intuitively, I feel, that what you have captured is accurate and transparent. Please realise that this is already a very big step.
I will feedback on each of your points, as you have raised them, while at the same time, attempting to share where I am coming from in my Coaching.
It is important that we are interested in the Truth of the way things are. At first glance this seems relatively simple, and this would be the case if all that turned up was our preferences!!! However, the competitive realm has us constantly ‘living the challenge’ and the only true way to do this, is to fully trust the nature of Experience. In training and playing competitive tennis, it is practising from the Highest Understanding of Body/Brain/CNS/Task.
Once this is being embodied, you are in the Dance of what is Happening, with no default to Separation.
If my coaching and commentary seems simple, I will be reinforcing something that is fundamental and essential. If it seems challenging, it will mean this aspect of the task or self-understanding is fragile or emergent. Indeed it will feel as though you are at an Edge!
My recommendation is to discard the filter you use to process the information, and just respond from your curiosity in the moment. Trusting that the Happening is what is reliable, in terms of the Overall Information.
Now, to your questions;
Forehand: There are 2 intertwined aspects to this shot. Eradicating the tendency to side-bend right (well in-place). You quickly corrected shifting the pelvis to the right, as a result of last weeks band work.
The second aspect is to enjoy hitting the shot, and exploring what you are capable of with this shot. Be-ing the forehand implies the Totality of the happening, not just the mechanics of the shot. Finding Flow in point play is the next step in your directionality with this shot.
Intensity: This question is very easy to answer. Your Intensity is the level required to answer any challenge under match conditions. Once you have tuned your body and attention in the warm-up, it is very important that you work at the highest level that is a match with your capability, while finding ease. This seems paradoxical, but it is not. Ease stops you from straining. Straining is non-preferred.
Snapping out of it: The so-called snapping out of it, is actually a glimpse of Openess.
The trance you are in prior to snapping out of it is Conditioned.
Feeding and Live Play discrepancy:
Feeding = Literal = Good girl who did the right thing.
Live Play = Accountability in the moment, Intuition, Trusting your training.
Reading the Ball. Position relative to the ball:
The ball represents the energy of the dance. If you are rushing or poorly set up relative to the situation, you are separate from the happening. This for me, is where your main improvement lies.
It does matter how you hit he ball on the squash court, so what you enjoyed on the day, was being free of identification with being correct. You explored the task with less judgement. Squash, like tennis, like all tasks, is pure task. The job of the task is to teach. Manipulating the situation, means variance in the learning.
Letting go implies letting go at the level of Identity. It is the Identity which creates the illusion of Separation. Separation is the basis of Suffering. The I-thought identity (ego) can never, ever be satisfied. Satisfaction is the absence of the I-thought. This is also pure task!!!!
Day-Dreaming about Tennis
The question comes up. Who is it that day-dreams?
The inevitable answer is that it is a function of the I-thought. Hence the butterflies, because there is a fear, that what is dreamed will not be attained.
However, I do not want to discourage exploration and investigation of matters related to your tennis vision. Just let the thinking arise from the facts!!
Not-Knowing is a sign that the checking in is authentic. Not-knowing is a sign of dis-identification with separation. In knowing nothing (being free of opinion) I can be effective in the moment, because I can see the facts as they are. Knowing nothing means being free to respond to the demands of the moment.
Hopefully everything I have written above is clarifying how I ideally see that learning happens. This has come from a long experimentation with the limitation of concepts, given that the intelligence of moving is in-born. When we learn conceptually, we create a series of steps, whereas from the perspective of the CNS the task is always whole.
This should not be taken too literally because if we are going to use language to communicate, we are already dealing with concepts.
For me in actual coaching as its happening, less is always more.
Acceleration, Deceleration and Pushing:
Acceleration = Force is generated from the ground and mid-line = Trusting the shot in the moment.
Deceleration = attempt to control by not missing. Gives the CNS nothing to focus on because there is no ground, acceleration is distal and there is no target.
Push = Related to deceleration but not as pathological. Has a fear basis, but can be related to poor set to the ball.
Ground forces, Body-weight and the Arm
If we use boxing to look at the above point, I would guarantee there would be little or no confusion. A good left jab uses ground forces, a connection with centre, and connects the jab, with the stepping function. A good right cross, where you intend for your fist to come out the other side of the persons head or body, leaves you in no doubt as to how the force is being developed.
This is why I always emphasise contrast of the task, to come to full understanding of the main task. It is fuel and repetition for the CNS.