Perception and Stress
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Perception and Stress - 07-09-2019, 06:18 PM

Attentional focus, perceived target size, and movement kinematics under performance pressure
https://link.springer.com/article/10...423-015-0838-z

I keep journals related to pool. Every once in a while I go back and read them. During one such review I ran across a day when I was playing on a snooker table. It wasn’t a good day because my journal entry read "it was like chasing a pea around on the freeway". A few pages later, it was a good day, the journal read "the balls were huge and the pockets looked like pails". "Whoa", was my reaction. These were descriptions by the same player. How could the perceptions be so different?

I asked myself some perception related questions? What made the ball look small and what made it look large? I soon realized it was an Einstein question, relativity. It’s about what’s used as a comparator. What was the frame of reference? Large or small was relative to that reference. Pros walking around the table, smoothing ruffled nap, picking up lint, rubbing away chalk, came to mind. The small details are in their minds giving them references for the balls and pockets to be compared too.

Recently I read the linked study. It has to do with the area we focus on and it’s size/shape, an "attention window". They had putters self describe their perceived hole size after putting. Interestingly they found it appeared smaller on misses than on made putts. They also found that as pressure increased, the hole size appeared smaller.

Years ago I read research by a sports scientist, Robert Nideffer. He wrote a book on Attention Control Training. In it he talked about how attention varied from narrow to broad and external to internal. He found that as stress increased attention narrowed and internalized.

Combining these facts an insight came to mind. As we watch anything become farther away, like a car driving away, we understand that perceptually it will appear smaller but didn’t actually change in size. So perceived size was more than just a comparator to a reference, it was related to our reaction to stress. The attention window study found another interesting perception. As the relative size of an object increased in our perception, more details in the object emerged, as the size increased in perception.

ADDENDUM; If stress was moving perception from away to within wouldn’t the pullback have the equivalent sense of distancing. The fact that stress caused the hole to look smaller in the study suggests that as a real possibility.

Previously, because of my awareness of relative size comparison, I developed some "at the table" strategies. On key shots I started to focus on cleaning ball paths, possible impediments like lint or chalk, even noticing if there were nicks or scratches on contact areas. Since seeing this study, on more difficult shots, I now get closer to the object ball by physically getting closer than the cue ball. It is bigger when I’m closer and I see more detail. Then holding the additional details in mind I return to the cue ball. These seem like productive things to do when taking a little more time on key shots.

All of these outwards oriented behaviors are designed to avoid the inward narrowing focus that competitive stress can bring. I don’t need to be in there having conversations with myself. Instead, by focusing outwards onto the details of the shot and countering stress’s perceptual tendencies, I use it to push me towards big balls and pockets.

Just sharing.

Last edited by Imac007; 07-10-2019 at 08:52 AM.
  
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07-09-2019, 07:01 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Imac007 View Post
Attentional focus, perceived target size, and movement kinematics under performance pressure
https://link.springer.com/article/10...423-015-0838-z

I keep journals related to pool. Every once in a while I go back and read them. During one such review I ran across a day when I was playing on a snooker table. It wasnít a good day because my journal entry read "it was like chasing a pea around on the freeway". A few pages later, it was a good day, the journal read "the balls were huge and the pockets looked like pails". "Whoa", was my reaction. These were descriptions by the same player. How could the perceptions be so different?

I asked myself some perception related questions? What made the ball look small and what made it look large? I soon realized it was an Einstein question, relativity. Itís about whatís used as a comparator. What was the frame of reference? Large or small was relative to that reference. Pros walking around the table, smoothing ruffled nap, picking up lint, rubbing away chalk, came to mind. The small details are in their minds giving them references for the balls and pockets to be compared too.

Recently I read the linked study. It has to do with the area we focus on and itís size/shape, an "attention window". They had putters self describe their perceived hole size after putting. Interestingly they found it appeared smaller on misses than on made putts. They also found that as pressure increased, the hole size appeared smaller.

Years ago I read research by a sports scientist, Robert Nideffer. He wrote a book on Attention Control Training. In it he talked about how attention varied from narrow to broad and external to internal. He found that as stress increased attention narrowed and internalized.

Combining these facts an insight came to mind. As we watch anything become farther away, like a car driving away, we understand that perceptually it will appear smaller but didnít actually change in size. So perceived size was more than just a comparator to a reference, it was related to our reaction to stress. The attention window study found another interesting perception. As the relative size of an object increased in our perception, more details in the object emerged, as the size increased in perception.

Previously, because of my awareness of relative size comparison, I developed some "at the table" strategies. On key shots I started to focus on cleaning ball paths, possible impediments like lint or chalk, even noticing if there were nicks or scratches on contact areas. Since seeing this study, on more difficult shots, I now get closer to the object ball by physically getting closer than the cue ball. It is bigger when Iím closer and I see more detail. Then holding the additional details in mind I return to the cue ball. These seem like productive things to do when taking a little more time on key shots.

All of these outwards oriented behaviors are designed to avoid the inward narrowing focus that competitive stress can bring. I donít need to be in there have conversations with myself. Instead, by focusing outwards onto the details of the shot and countering stressís perceptual tendencies, I use it to push me towards big balls and pockets.

Just sharing.
To paraphrase " one can believe the shot is very tough and justify missing, or believe the shot is doable and make it".


A bull without horns is still dangerous.

Law of logical arguement-Anything is possible when you dont know what you are talking about.

  
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07-09-2019, 07:20 PM

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Originally Posted by alphadog View Post
To paraphrase " one can believe the shot is very tough and justify missing, or believe the shot is doable and make it".
Maybe it’s about learning how to learn as the great snooker pioneer Joe Davis claimed was his key to becoming a great player. He said players who have natural talent get to a certain point then stall out because they have never had to struggle to get better. He said he had no natural ability and struggled for incremental improvement.

Last edited by Imac007; 07-09-2019 at 11:30 PM.
  
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