By Andrew D. Wittman, PhD
“A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” Wayne Gretzky
Previously we looked at pressure proofing by raising our level of confidence. Today, let’s focus on anticipation. A large part of reducing stress and inoculating yourself against the kind of pressure that stymies performance, is being able to see ahead and execute. In order to anticipate problems or mere course changes, one must raise their perspective to the 50,000 feet level.
I’ve been fortunate enough to be trained in vehicle dynamics and evasive/protective driving skills. One of the primary axioms of my driving instructors was to “keep your eyes up”. The effective and proficient driver must keep his/her eyes as far into the distance as possible. Taking the long view helps the operator to anticipate problems or mere course changes.
One of the training evolutions I participated in, was in fact, a racing school. The instructors taught us some wild moonshiner-type moves, the kind seen in the movies. They also taught us that during high-speed progressions, if there was a wreck in-progress, to drive towards the wreck. At high speeds, when cars collide, they will keep moving beyond the point of impact. In steering toward the point of impact, my vehicle would clear the wreck, and make continued evasive/protective action possible.
The same is true for the deer hunter. The rifle must be aimed at where the hunted game is going. Shooting where the game is, instead of anticipating where it’s going to be, makes for an empty freezer.
When you get up out of the weeds and get a bird’s eye view of things, you give yourself an enormous vaccination against pressure and stress. Why? Seeing things in the distance gives you tons of reactionary time, so much so, that you actually become proactive instead of reactive.