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Monday, July 2, 2018

the intent gaze ~ quiet eye - makes champions !!


Down but not out !  ~ the greatness is not in  not falling ~ but in getting up every time one falls ! – falling is physical; getting up is mental attitude.

Mahakavi Subramanya Barathiyar was a great patriot, exceptional poet, man with burning ambition, eternal optimist, visionary who breathed freedom and liberty. In one of his immortal songs, he asks – do you think that am an ordinary mortal who lives a life of eating, speaking, inflicting pain on others, ageing and eventually dying without a fight – am not a person of such ilk.   What a powerful message ! – but so sad, recalling his untimely death at such an young age – due to the harsh punishments meted out by British while he was imprisoned .. .. ..

தேடிச்சோறுநிதந்தின்று-பல சின்னஞ்சிறுகதைகள்பேசி-மனம்
வாடித்துன்பமிகஉழன்று-பிறர் வாடப்பலசெயல்கள்செய்து- நரை
கூடிக்கிழப்பருவம்எய்தி – கொடுங்கூற்றுக்கிரையெனப்பின்மாயும்- பல
வேடிக்கைமனிதரைப்போலே-நான் வீழ்வேனென்றுநினைத்தாயோ?     ..  மகாகவிசுப்பிரமணியபாரதி

Do you know what connects Test No. 42 at Sydney; Test 905 at Leeds  & Test 1535 at Calcutta  – incidentally in all the 3 Australia featured.. ..

Now the story of the man – that you might have heard many a times.  He made his debut at Chandigarh  in which Sagi Lakshmi  Venkatapathi Raju was the man of the match.  He had enviable figures of 17.5-13-12-6 & 36-25-25-2 !Raju went on to play 28 tests taking 93 test wickets and 53 one day wickets but was never as successful.  The man, Marvan Atapattu made a pair in  Nov 1990; played his next test in Aug 1992 against Australia, made 0 & 1; waited few more months played against India in Ahmedabad in Feb 1994 bagging a pair again and after 3 years made 25 against New Zealand at Dunedin .. .. .. .. well, that is one side – he went on to score over 5000 runs for Lanka, hit 16 centuries, 6 double hundreds and captained the Nation too. 

A few decades ago, watched live action in Triplicane Gymkhana – the top players of that time Lazar and Dilli played.  Remember Dilli, making a black century – his movements were measured, spoke less, had an intent gaze – eyes fixed, concentrating on the coin and it appeared that he was seeing nothing else than the point where he intended the Carrom striker to touch the coin and perhaps knew the speed at which such impact would be made !!

Though nothing much would have been written about Dilli, there have been international players whose comeback had been appreciated much .. .. In 1987, in a 4th round match at Wimbledon, Jimmy Connors (the man at the start), perhaps past his prime was trailing   1-6 1-6 1-4, against Sweden’s Mikael Pernfors. One newspaper even printed in its early edition that Connors had lost the match. Certainly for the first two-and-a-half sets it looked as though Pernfors was on course to beating the American at the third time of asking.In 2013  48 hours after  his titanic, five-hour tussle with Stanislas Wawrinka which finished 12-10 in the fifth set at around 1:40 a.m. local time -  Djokovic was back to his elastic, baseline smothering self.

It is all about concentration ~ in games, the general  idea is that one should should ‘keep  eye on the ball’ is well-known, of course – but this suggested something more intricate, with the precise onset and duration of the gaze correlating with an objective measure of sporting success.  BBC in an interesting reveals that Psychologists and neuroscientists have now identified some of the common mental processes that mark out elite athletes.  And one of the most intriguing aspects appears to be a phenomenon known as the “quiet eye” – a kind of enhanced visual perception that allows the athlete to eliminate any distractions as they plan their next move. Intriguingly, quiet eye appears to be particularly important at times of stress, preventing the athlete from ‘choking’ at moments of high pressure. It may even lead to the mysterious ‘flow state’.

It’s not just budding sportsmen and sportswomen who should take note. The same laser-sharp focus can help doctors maintain their focus as they perform keyhole surgery, and it is of increasing interest to the military.There is a small window of opportunity for the motor system to receive information from the eyes – and experts have found a way to optimise that window.  “There is a small window of opportunity for the motor system to receive information from the eyes,” explains Sam Vine at the University of Exeter. “And experts have found a better way to optimise that window and to keep that window [open], which helps their movements to be really accurate and really precise.”

The concept of quiet eye originates with the personal experiences of a kinesiologist called Joan Vickers. As a student in sports science – and a keen athlete herself – Vickers always had been interested in how our athletic talents vary so much from day to day.While playing on the university basketball team, for instance, she once scored an extraordinary 27 points within the first half of a match. Another time, she had a stunning winning streak while serving for the university volleyball team. But both miraculous performances were one-offs – each time, her magic touch disappeared the next day.“It kept on running around my head – how could I have done that? Physically I didn’t change,” she says. On the other hand, why were the elite athletes she envied not only so good, but also so consistent?

Embarking on a PhD at the University of British Columbia, Vickers began to suspect the secret lay in the way that elite athletes see the world. She hooked a group of professional golfers up to a device that precisely monitored their eye movements as they putted their balls. She found an intriguing correlation: the better the player (as measured by their golfing handicap) the longer and steadier their gaze on the ball just before, and then during, their strike. Novices, by contrast, tended to shift their focus between different areas of the scene, with each fixation lasting for shorter periods of time.

So remaining quiet and calm not only raises your composure but also is a formula for success !

Now if you remember those tests – it is team following-on going on to winning the test. The first occasion was at Sydney in 1894, when England won by 10 runs despite being forced to follow on 261 behind. The next occasion was in the famous match at Headingley in 1981, when Ian Botham's heroics  revived England after they followed on, then Bob Willis bowled Australia out as England sneaked home by 18 runs. In the other  famous match at Kolkata in 2001, it was the batting of VVS Laxman (281), his partnership with Rahul Dravid (180), who put on 376 after India followed on 274 behind  set up a 171-run victory over Australia.

These are not miracles but victories brought about by firm resolve and intent pursuit.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
2nd July 2018


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