If You Don’t Experience It, It Doesn’t Exist


There’s an age old question about a tree falling in the woods:

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
It’s a funny question, one that you can go around and around analyzing, discussing and mulling over without coming up with any real answer. The other day though, I was presented with a similar saying that actually made sense to me (both as a player and a coach!):

“If you don’t experience it, it doesn’t exist.”

Interesting thought, isn’t it? I was being coached when someone told me this about making adjustments to a particular skill and I actually had to take a step back and think about what it meant before continuing on. At first you might think, “If I don’t experience it? I’m always experiencing it, I’m living it, of course it exists!”

But then really take a second to think about it. Let’s take an example of a shooting motion, and a player who doesn’t fully bring his or her hands back. Yes, they are present in the moment, and the ones actually making the shooting motion- BUT no matter how many times you tell them, show them, demonstrate to them, even with film! if they aren’t able to EXPERIENCE the shortage of motion, it doesn’t exist TO THEM! It is impossibleĀ to make adjustments if we actually have no understanding of the problem. Sure, someone might get lucky. But to deliberately get better, we must first understand the problem, dive in and experience it for ourselves, before we can make the adjustments.

Once the player is aware and can feel that indeed, their hands have more range of motion to go backwards, then they will forever be able to feel and adjust. Before that enlightenment though, it’s like shooting in the dark. So what do we need to take away from this? Two simple ideas:

1. As a coach, you cannot will, push or otherwise force someone to learn. It is a process all on its own and must be experienced through the student. You can provide the tools, but they must take the ride.

2. Do not get frustrated and expect that your players must come away from every practice having bettered their game. If that were the case, we’d all be professionals after we hit a certain number of practices. Some days we just won’t feel it. We’ll try multiple ways, attempts and experience failure- but that’s OK! Failing is a part of the process. It might be a multitude of different switches that need to occur before we can finally feel that experience.

Happy Laxing!


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About the Author


Our mission is to use mental and physical training to help our athletes succeed not only as players, but as people off of the field as well. We live by 2 basic principles: Be Fearless, Never Stop Learning.

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