I received a great question from a reader at the end of last week of the back of "The personification of sporting excellence"piece.
After a little back and forth, I referred to the calmness I was talking about as "internal quietness". The reader asked me to define this term.
My definition of this term is almost if not entirely borrowed from the work of John Grinder and Carmen Bostic St Clair. They use the term "know-nothing state" instead of internal quietness.
Firstly, it's worth pointing out that internal quietness isn't a thing that you have or don't have. It is something you do to some extent.
In that respect, think of doing it more like a dimmer than an on-off switch.
Secondly, you may think that calmness and internal quiet have no place in sport. Such acts belong with people who like to sit in lotus position deeply meditating against some picturesque backdrop in nature. I'll come back to this belief.
Now to define the process.
When I talk about internal quietness or calm, I'm usually referring to the doing of three things:
Lessening of your internal dialogue.
The talking to yourself that is really useful at times isn't at others. Believe it or not, you have the ability to activity quieten your inner voice or stop it altogether.
Sensing your external world.
When you're remembering what you had for breakfast this morning (chocolate) or that really fun thing you're doing next Thursday (base jumping), you're likely to miss what is going on right here and now. If I got you to deeply think about that last time you had good sex (if you ever have had any), I could probably steal the screen you're reading this from and you may not even notice. Sensing your external world allows you to have your wits about you.
Using the minimum muscular tension necessary for the job at hand.
This is fairly self-explanatory. As well as being valid for the large, obvious muscle groups, it also applies to those responsible for your heart rate and breathing. Your temperature will be as low as possible for the job at hand. Doing calm/internal quietness/knowing nothing literally means keeping a cool head.
Now can you see how doing these things is so valuable in a sporting context?
Internal dialogue is ill-suited to sports. It takes you away from sensing your environment and is too slow to be useful in fast moving sporting environments.
Sensing your external environment is the same as focusing. Ever tried playing your game while focusing on another matter? That shit don't work so well.
Minimising your muscular tension keeps you quick, nimble and efficient. The alternative leaves you slow, clumsy and will tire you quickly.
Keeping up to speed with the game, focusing and being nimble are obviously crucial to your game so calm, internal quietness or whatever you want to call it is a skill worth building to improve your sport.
And you don't need to sit in lotus position deeply meditating against some picturesque backdrop in nature to do it.
Arton "Calm belongs in your game" Baleci