Weird tip about tennis and life in general

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by 10isfreak, Jul 22, 2013.

  1. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    It might sound crazy to certain people, but I got an advice that can work for anything, from finding your location in a large city, to playing a sport or learning about more academic stuff like physics, economics or literature. There are different types of skills which also correspond to different ways of experiencing and understanding stuff.

    1-Empirical experience (movements and sensations);
    2-Symbolic experience (naming, representing);
    3-Concrete experience (categorizing, ordering, grouping);
    4-Formal experience (theorizing, drawing logical relationships).

    As you move from 1 to 4, you add dimensions to your knowledge and your experience. Some people taste a red wine, seeing notes of berries, vanilla or else, being even able to explain the differences in texture between two very similar wines. Most people don't... they couldn't even tell you anything about a bottle, except it's acid and bitter. Just learning to use the words knowledgeable people use to talk about wine changes the way you experience that wine -- which is why I talk about this.

    Adding depth to your tennis experience, being able to tell more about your forehand than simply saying "I don't know; I go there and I just hit it," does make a difference about how you play that forehand. It makes a difference about how you understand what your body parts are doing -- because you can and do name these movements. It also work regarding tactics and play patterns... if all you see in baseline rallies are big shots, you won't play the same as if your description was more nuanced -- that comes as an answer to a thread about baseliners.

    Thinking about the game, sitting on a chair does make you a different player.
     
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  2. psv255

    psv255 Professional

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    Great points. In tennis specifically, this is a good mental framework that parallels the physical comfort zones of a player's development (technique, movement, etc.). The interplay of the two explain why there is a very narrow window of information that a tennis player finds extremely useful at any one point. Go further in explaining than what they can readily discern or feel from experience, and the player is confused or misguided, and explaining something too basic would render useless.
     
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  3. BaselineB

    BaselineB New User

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    Great post 10 !

    IMHO:
    Having proper knowledge about movement/technique is essential if you want to give yourself a chance to be the best playing version of yourself.
    So for instance if the goal is to have a perfect backhand, it's only possible to strive for perfection if you know what perfection is. :)
     
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  4. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

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    I remember reading something that sportsmen who had dreamt about their sport performed better.
     
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  5. HughJars

    HughJars Professional

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    Heavy stuff.

    I reckon there has been plenty of players who have gone downhill or plateued out with their progression and improvement because of overthinking and over-analysing everything. Paralysis by analysis. There is just to much going on in their mind.

    Overtime, the reason why they took up the sport (to have fun) is lost.

    Sometimes just hitting the ball over without thinking about it can be a good thing. (read The Inner Game of Tennis)

    For example, I took up playing football when i was about 20 years old, without having much knowledge of the game. I just played on instinct, and played to have fun. I had the best year of my life and won a best and fairest in my first year. Then I strated trying to over analyse everything, like skill execution, reading the play, technique, diet, training programs and my game never recovered. I was mentally destroyed.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2013
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  6. BaselineB

    BaselineB New User

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    I agree with HughJars that it can be very tempting to over-analyse if you have a lot of knowledge. But IMHO it's not undoable to suppress that temptation.
    For instance, suppose there are 10 things wrong with your serve, and you know exactly what those things are. It can be very tempting to try and fix a few things at the same time. This never works (at least not for me)...
    If you manage to restrain yourself and fix one fault at a time, results will come sooner.
    Easier said than done though :evil:
     
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  7. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    I'll introduce you to concepts about human memory to make a point, responding to your good and interesting intervention. It's long and somewhat complex, but I'll try to make it accessible for everyone to benefit.

    The Atkinson-Shiffrin model of memory can teach you something interesting about how to use the advice I gave. They divided memory into three distinct types, one of which is termed ''short term'' because it lasts 25-30 seconds. My teacher used to say they should have called it a "work memory" because it's more telling about its function: you use it to spare information for short term operations. For instance, you can add numbers in your head, keep the results aside to make mental computations simpler, quicker or to respect the priority of operations.

    An other trait of that short term memory is that you keep information in blocs, in units or groups of stuff that you treat as a single thing. The rule of thumb is 7+/- 2 blocs of information. A simple way to understand this is to say that your ability to pay attention at different stuff is limited and every time you add in new things, you have to further divide your attention. If you care about 1 thing, all of your attention focused on it; if you care about 7, 1/7 of your attention is used for each thing. In short, multi-tasking means you do many things not as well as you otherwise could. There are other wonderful insights this model provides about how to improve as a player or how to explain differences in the mental processes between advanced and lower level players. I'll skip them to answer your post directly.

    What is "thinking too much" in the light of this theory? It's when you try to bother about everything WHILE YOU PLAY. The way you should think about my advice is that it's to be used when you DON'T play -- i.e between points, during change of ends, before or after a match, etc.

    SIDE NOTE
    As HughJars kindly provided us with one of his sources, I'll do you all the same favor. The OP was a personal vulgarization of Piaget's theory. If you want a brief recap, Piaget's work were about the genesis of knowledge and its development. He found out that people exhibited qualitatively distinct forms of knowledge that can be classified into 4 or 5 groups. I used that to explain how you can add depth to your experience as a tennis player, making you more conscious about what you're doing.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2013
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  8. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    Improvement comes in the face of challenges, but it's not a challenge if it's not accessible for your current level of performance. Mastering any art is a journey, not a race.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2013
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  9. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I don't think so. It is interesting to do it, but doesn't seem to be useful. The useful insights come watching the pros and trying out stuff on the court.
     
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  10. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    I'll ask a weird question to make another point, but do you know what love is?

    I'll surprise you all, but love is theoretical. You can't experience love itself; you can experience its effects, from which love can be deduced. Love is a relationship, a bond. It's not something that exists like a table or a wall; it exists like peace, respect or what you find in those large, complex books we call "specialized dictionaries." You need deduction (which is a formal operation) to understand love...

    It might be the weirdest thing you will ever read, but there is a sense in which teaching maths to kids make them capable of understanding love.

    The world has more than three dimensions, but most people are blind to them because they do not use their abilities to the fullest.
     
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  11. psv255

    psv255 Professional

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    Simply sitting on a chair, maybe not, but sitting down and organizing one's obstacles or goals for improvement already gives structure to someone who may have been completely lost before. Identifying one's blatant weaknesses and committing to improve them doesn't necessarily require a tennis court or watching a pro (although it might help).
     
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  12. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    I don't think so either. Novak is one of the more personable more intelligent players on the tour but we never heard the end of it with regards to his imprecise wording and his technical mistakes in his little "time magazine how to play tennis video.'

    If the OP was correct we would expect pro players to be more knowledgable about the game then anyone.

    In reality parts of our mind are able to do the right thing without consicious knowledge of what is correct. A good example is a manual transmission. My family can all drive one but my mother has little understanding of how it works on a mechanical level..My dad OTOH can swap repair them.

    But both people can drive them - that's because the part of your mind that tells you when to shift and hit the clutch and brake can learn what works even if your conscious mind 'disagrees.'

    My tennis pro tells me all the time to 'carve around the ball' on the forehand. You don't actually do this. But this doesn't mean he can't hit a pretty good forehand.

    So no you do not need even a solid technical understanding of the biomechanics or physics of the sport to excel at it. Tennis is like any other sport. You don't have to know why a shortstop throws the way he does to replicated it and play shortstop..
     
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  13. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    You can't deduce this from the statements I made alone. I said that there are different ways of knowing things, that your ability to play was influenced/could be improved by adding different dimensions to your understanding of tennis...

    This implies that someone can improve their game by becoming more knowledgeable about it, at least to the extent that it influences how they interpret what happens on the court. Alternatively, you can hire someone else to do the above for you -- the point is that knowing what to do is made easier as you approach things from a more formal stand point.

    With that said, think of Agassi. He's not quite the typical Hollywood high school athlete who's very good in sports, but very bad at thinking... he's actually a tennis genius, for one.
     
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  14. thejackal

    thejackal Hall of Fame

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    don't agree with the premise of the OP (personal opinion of course). for me the best model for getting good at tennis is:

    1) unconscious incompetence
    2) conscious incompetence
    3) conscious competence,
    4) unconscious competence

    there's a name for this model but I don't remember it.

    seems like this would apply far better to pro players.
     
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  15. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    I like this. I hover between 2 and 3 depending on the day.
     
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  16. thejackal

    thejackal Hall of Fame

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    I think 4 is an unattainable ideal. it's playing in the zone, all the time, which is not very realistic.
     
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  17. pushing_wins

    pushing_wins Hall of Fame

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    i dont think fed thinks about how he hits the ball.
     
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  18. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    Not while he‘s performing, but he does pay a lot of people loads of money to gain conscience of how he‘s moving, hitting, aiming, etc. That‘s my point: being conscious of what happens changs your approach to the game.
     
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  19. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    Actually, that‘s not incoherent with what I wrote. The problem is that I am forced to vulgarize to make a point... There is this thing called ‘information blocs‘ in the memory model of Atkinson and Shiffrin. You have 7 plus or minus 2 of them and they‘re basically sets of information you can work with in the short term - it means you have a limited amount of stuff you can pay attention to and you have to divide it between each element. Basically, a beginner might have to think about his feet, his hand, his shoulder, etc. He‘s got trouble hitting, let alone talking while he hits or choosing targets on the fly.

    That‘s what your ‘conscious‘ can mean: you start by thinking about everything because you‘re not used to it. As you get better, each of your 7+-2 blocs becomes bigger... a pro forehand contains roughly 40 single movements and it can account for one bloc - which means the can also pay attention to their target, the position of their opponent, their own position, etc.

    As you get better, you‘re not less conscious of what happens... quite the opposite. But, in a sens, you indeed no longer need to bother so much about details in your swing.
     
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  20. thejackal

    thejackal Hall of Fame

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    Meanwhile in gstaad:

    Bounce
    Hit
    Bounce
    Hit
    Bounce
    Hit
    (Cheers)
     
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  21. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    +1. This. Tennis is a sport. It does not need such rampant over intellectualizing. Not to go all Oscar Wegner on you - but the guy was right about this. It's not complicated.
     
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  22. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    There are high, medium, low, short and deep bounces; there are cross-court, down the line, inside-in, inside-out, forehand, backhand, flat and loopy shots -- and you can obviously make combinations of these. The other guy listed two types of "things": bounces and hits...

    The first set of conceptual divisions allow for sufficient nuance to enable anyone who learn these concepts to imagine what is happening with great accuracy -- just by using words. With the other set of descriptive categories, if you don't have a video or loads of pictures, it risks to be complicated and just imagine trying to talk using such imprecise words. The more nuanced you are on a paper, the clearer your thought process is; the more of a mess your explanation is, the more of a mess it is in your head.

    You have only a very small amount of time to decide what you to do and how you use your abilities is about as important as the abilities themselves. Who do you want to be? I can foretell that the first guy will know exactly what he needs to do very quickly and, if you'd stop him, he could tell you what were his intentions. Of course, he relies on heuristics and habits to make that quick decision, but he still knows what he's doing. The second guy, I can't say what he'll be doing, but it won't necessarily be a good idea and if you ask him why he did something, he'll probably tell you "I don't know." Look at what happens when he pro looses his good posture or balance. Typically, he'll go for a deep cross-court and he won't try to put too much on that ball... if you'd ask him why, he'll tell you he knew he wasn't well positioned.

    Do you know where your trunk is relatively to your knees when you are being pulled wide? Do you have any idea of how good your posture is when you swing that ball? Are you conscious of anything regarding your court position, your preparation or your balance when that happens?

    If you tell me yes, if you tell me that you're conscious of what happens, then why do you write something like that? All I said is that if you're capable of describing what happens, you're proving to everyone you're not playing unaware of important things like your posture, your balance or your court positioning -- which is the whole point. I'm trying to get people to get people to become CONSCIOUS, AWARE of what happens. That way, the tools you use risk to better match your ends; the solutions you find will better suit your intentions.


    You can disagree, but at least do not simply answer something like "you're over-analyzing stuff." Tell me why and how; show me that you didn't just come here and type a sentence without giving it some thought. That's how debates become useful, I think... people answer meaningful things to one another, considering the points being made, using them to build new ideas.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2013
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  23. TomT

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    Good stuff 10isfreak. Nothing wierd about it, imo. I totally agree that using analytical tools and continuing to develop better ones is a key part of getting at the truth of things and solving real world problems (eg., how to develop a more consistent serve). It's an essential part of the modern scientific method.

    And, of course, we're not doing this stuff while we're playing, but there's no doubt in my mind that using these tools while we're not playing can help us to play better.
     
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  24. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    Says who? Tennis is a form of athletic competition. You can be a skilled athlete without knowing how to write or read.

    I don't know how much you know about boxing - but it has many similarities to tennis. You need good footwork, you need to be crafty, you need good technique to maximize your punching power etc etc. It's suprisingly close really..

    Sonny Liston was a very successful boxer - and yet was unable to read or write. I think there are several boxers like him.

    Its nice to think that being smart or having verbal command is the key to playing great tennis. But I am doubtful. As I said before its not clear to me that Novak had an incredible command of the sport verbally..And yet he plays better tennis then anyone. The real key to becoming good at tennis is playing alot of tennis against skilled players..

    Its the same with boxers who need to get in alot of work in to hone their craft. That work consists of things like working the heavy bag, speed bag, jumping rope, sparring etc. Not writing essays on the sweet science..

    You seem like the intellectual type. There is this guy that loves cricket in Downton Abbey. He goes on and on abot how to play - how to hold the bat etc etc. He gives great intellectual advise to everyone - cept he can't play a lick. This is pretty common...
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2013
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  25. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    I've highlighted this for two reasons.

    (1) It's true.
    (2) You didn't understand the core of my intervention.

    When I say "clearer on paper," it's figurative speech. Read the whole post again and you'll find plural mentions about words, but very few about how to express them. You can be annoyed by my wording and if you require me to, I can be more accurate. I was talking about verbal expression -- it means speaking, writing or using your hands to make signs.

    As for the original author of this idea, it's Vygotski. He said that speech was an indicator of cognition -- basically, it means that we can make inferences about your thought process by using your verbal expression as data.

    The gist of my claim is that you can benefit of the extra awareness that will necessarily come by knowing what happens on a court in different ways. But if you prefer blindness, keep your head band too low and enjoy it.
     
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  26. thejackal

    thejackal Hall of Fame

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    I suspect the type of 'awareness' you are referring to doesnt engage the right hemisphere of the brain to be of any help during competition.

    Of course, we d need a CT scanner to prove it,, but that's my theory
     
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  27. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    Your smug. But I just don't think it transfers the way you think it does. What you have to understand about the human mind is that it works not like a coherent whole but rather like a company.

    In this analogy your CEO is your conscious mind. So you can teach your conscious mind a lot about tennis. But he is only loosely connected to the rest of your brain. He kind of exhorts the rest of his 'company' to do the right thing. But they choose not to listen to him - or even ignore him especially when (as is often the case in a real company) he doesn't know what the hell is he talking about.

    This is why tennis feels so 'automatic.' Really - and I mean REALLY GOOD players often have little idea how they do what they do. And this means that the "CEO" part of the brain doesn't know. Now the guys in the other parts of the company know what is going on. But the CEO doesn't speak for those guys.

    So in essence this what students really need to do is not understand how to play good tennis. But to FEEL what it means to play good tennis. This is why very good players will tell you to 'carve around the ball' or 'snap the wrist'. They don't know what goes on - they play by feel.

    Even your 'example' of a guy who hit a particular shot because it made sense. In reality its like he hit that shot because when you are stretched out it FEELS right to hit a defensive shot. You don't have to think or understand the reasoning behind it with your conscious mind. If you are asked about it later you might create a rationale that matches what you did.

    But when you are out there on the court - its more about feel. This is how athletics are. You do not need to know intellectually the steps to catch a ball. Other parts of your mind take care of the 'dirty work.'

    Even players like you who over intellectualize the sport have to get this on some level. For example you can AIM your shots in tennis. You can hit deeper - you can hit down the line etc. No one has to teach you EXACTLY how to do this. Because you do it by feel. Part of your body knows well to hit shorter I need to swing a bit more across the ball so it doesn't go so high over the net while adding a bit more topspin and perhaps adjust the angle of the racquet a little. And so on and so forth..

    But your "CEO" so to speak doesn't have to know this. He just thinks 'aim for a shorter shot'.
     
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  28. bhupaes

    bhupaes Professional

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    ^^^ The CEO of my company doesn't know what the hell's going on, either... he just says make it work or else... :)
     
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  29. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    I think you missed the point Guy Clinch. Not that your comment is dumb, because it's actually a smart analogy, but more so because it doesn't reply to what I talked about. Maybe I choose the wrong words or my approach doesn't hook on you as I expect it should...

    This 'awareness' is not so much about something akin to those liberal theories of the19th century wherein people are deemed capable of behaving with conscious intentions free of subconscious influences. I mean to consider how these different forms of knowledge might affect how you perceive the game, how you interpret different elements of it...

    I basically consider all forms of knowledge under the same label: they are part of your personal experiences. To give you an example, a biologist or a physician won't see the same things in a given context as you or me would. Part of the explanation for that is their academic experiences - kind of like seeing the style of a master in his pupils. Reactions (which aren't necessarily conscious) will be altered, just like perception and decision making.

    It could work in theory, just like many ideas brought forth here. It could also be one way out of many to achieve enjoyable results.
     
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  30. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    I'm definitely not saying you need to know what happens in details or that knowing alone changes everything... I'm just saying it can make a positive difference.

    Besides, I also made mentions about short term memory... Just to give you an idea, there are over 40 movements in a pro forehand: the shot alone is too much to pay attention to in details. Ergo, I can't be meaning something like knowing is doing or 'pros know exactly what they do.' Actually, you'd pay less attention to your forehand and more to your shot selection and opponent as you get better - it's really not a question of conscious or subconscious here.
     
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  31. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Imo 10is is making some very good points.
    Yes, Oscar is right that it doesn't have to be hard and the strokes come from
    feel, but...
    10is is not saying you must do the things he mentions, but they will make you a
    different player. When you adjust your perspective and look at things differently
    (more clear or otherwise)
    things will appear different in some aspects.

    I'll use the example of counter steering a motorcycle.
    I did it on bicycles and motorcycles all my life, but at 40 something, I read an
    article on counter steering with more depth of how it works.
    Since then I see it a bit differently and I use it more directly now when I turn,
    opposed to all those years where I just sort of felt my way thru it. I still feel it,
    but now it's way more confident and precise.
    I also drill and practice it, noticing little adjustments, like weight more
    forward or more back....etc..
    I think it even saved me a couple of times where less practiced and intentional
    turning technique may have failed the circumstances.
     
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  32. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    ^^^That. It‘s what I meant.
     
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