Intuition in Athletics
by Giuseppina “Vidheya” Del Vicario
3-time Italian Martial Arts Champion
Anticipation gives you a winning edge
The ability to correctly anticipate what your opponent is going to do gives you a definite edge in competition. In fact, the ability to use your intuition to get information and to anticipate future events is the real secret to outstanding success in every area of life.
If you can use your intuition to sense the best training routine, you will get into better shape more quickly and easily than if you are limited only to random guessing. Any time you can sense what other people are thinking or what they are likely to do, you know exactly how to prepare so that you will be ready for them.
Imagine sensing what someone is willing to pay for your services. You’d know exactly what price you can negotiate.
Imagine sensing what opposing players’ game plans are. And imagine being able to send a message to your teammates: To let them know mentally what you are going to do next. Basketball player Walt Frazier said that he and teammate Bill Bradley could do this. “Sometimes he has passed the ball before I’ve taken the first step. It’s like telepathy,” Frazier said in the book Clyde, which he wrote with Joe Jares.
Many athletes use intuition
There are many real-life examples of athletes who use intuition:
Sportscaster Frank Gifford often speaks of the great quarterbacks in the National Football League having the ability to “sense” when a tackler is rushing up behind them and moving out of harm’s way at the final moment.
Gifford’s broadcast partner Dan Dierdorf agreed during a broadcast on December 31, 1994, noting that when he asked the great ones how they knew to move, they said they didn’t know it was just instinct.
Race driver Emerson Fittipaldi has talked about how premonition works for him. When asked how he knew how fast to go into a corner during the Indianapolis 500, Fittipaldi told interviewer Charlie Rose on the Public Broadcasting System, June 3, 1993, “You must know what the car will do before it does it.”
Muhammad Ali made many accurate predictions about his fights. He often ignored the advice of his trainers and fought the way he felt he should.
Soccer great Pele said he played his first World Cup game in 1958 entirely in a trance, as if the future were unfolding before his eyes. Pele’s team won, largely due to his efforts, according to Peter Bodo and David Hirshey, authors of Pele’s New World.
Middle linebacker Ray Nitschke said in his book, Mean on Sunday, that Cleveland Brown fullback Jim Brown “had a sixth sense that told him how the defense would react.”
Pitcher Sandy Koufax wrote about the extraordinary rapport he had with catcher John Roseboro in his autobiography, Koufax. “Not only did we have the same idea at the same moment,” he said about one risky decision about what pitch to throw, “we even had the same thoughts about what could happen back in the clubhouse” if it turned out to be the wrong decision.
Olympic fencers sense opponents’ strategies
To help his fencers develop a strategy, Andrzej Wojcikiewicz, a sports psychologist and former coach of the Canadian National Fencing Team, used a special technique taught in the Silva courses. This technique allows you to experience what another person is experiencing by imagining that you are putting his or her head over your own, as though you were putting on a helmet.
“This was used by some fencers before unusually difficult bouts in order to instinctively plan the correct strategy for the fencing match,” Wojcikiewicz explained. “One fencer imagined putting on the head of a world champion before a match, got the feeling, took off the ‘helmet’ and then fenced the match with a great success.”
Know when to shoot
Lance Miller, an international shooting coach trained at the United States Olympic Training Center, said that the most important things in the Silva training to help his athletes are visualization, mental rehearsal, stress management and intuition.
“Why intuition?” Ed Bernd Jr. asked him. “There’s no need to figure out your opponent’s strategy or anything like that.”
“Are you kidding?” he answered. “There are things beyond a shooter’s control that can affect his or her accuracy.”
“Like what?” Ed asked.
“Like the wind,” he answered. “The wind at the target may be different than the wind at the muzzle of the gun. And the wind can change suddenly. If you can somehow use your intuition to help you determine the exact instant to squeeze the shot off, you can improve your score.”
The athlete cannot detect other factors objectively, Miller said. “Despite the excellent quality control in the manufacture of ammunition,” he said, “you could have a nick in a bullet that you can’t see with the naked eye, or a smaller powder charge. The athletes need to be able to sense this. I tell my guys and girls that if everything doesn’t feel right, don’t shoot. When they learn to project their minds to detect problems, this will help them tremendously.”
Miller is teaching his athletes how to use some of the Silva techniques to help them in their quest for world and Olympic championships.
The same idea applies to other sports as well, where variables such as wind or precision manufacture of equipment could be factors that influence the success of the athlete’s effort.
Giuseppina Del Vicario, who competed under the name Vidheya, won the Italian martial arts national champion in Tai Chi Chuan three consecutive years, competing against both men and women. She retired after that, undefeated.