When it comes to peak performance, the measurement of success for most is consistency. It’s one thing to win a major tournament and then disappear. It’s another to win several major tournaments and always be in the top 8. Likewise, after a sports team wins a championship, we almost fully expect them to win another. It’s well known that true adoration of players comes from their ability to maintain their level of performance. The second they slip, we are the first to be disappointed and sometimes down right angry. So how do they maintain such a peak performance? Luck? Skill? Or is it the Natural Learning Process they go through as an eAthlete?
Why do all of them have such unique styles despite all being so optimal? How can you increase your skill and maintain it? The answers lie deep inside of us, in an almost primal fashion. Let’s help you rediscover your Natural Learning Process as an eAthlete. By breaking down the Natural Learning Process, we can identify opportunities in your performance and help you become a better eAthlete.
The Natural Learning Process Through The Lens of an eAthlete
The Natural Learning Process is something that we are born with. It’s one of the many fascinating aspects of human existence. You can see it in infants. How they learn to walk, grip objects, and cry in times of need. No one teaches them to do those things, nor does anyone critique the act. It’s something that comes naturally.
It’s a lot like the first video game you ever played. Take yourself back to that experience. Remember the joy you felt when you overcame each obstacle. For most us our parents didn’t understand how to play the games, or how to help us. This meant we were free to figure it out. Win when we won, and lose when we lost. No critique, no tutorials, just trial and correction. Not trial and error. This form of progression is attributed to the Natural Learning Process.
The same can be said about our first step into competitive gaming. We all remember the moment where we went from playing casual to taking it seriously on a competitive level. Our ability and confidence to jump into that ranked setting, or tournament setting comes from our pre-established Natural Learning Process. That first time feeling is something a lot of players chase. Their “glory days” if you will. It happens because that first competitive step came naturally. It didn’t have any motivations other than showing off your skills and competing. You didn’t have to force it.
However, something in life changes as time goes by. Something that alters The Natural Learning Process that we inevitably bring into our lives as eAthletes.
Introducing Self 1 & Self 2
Imagine if you will that you have two different versions of yourself working in tandem while you are playing. We will call them Self 1 and Self 2. Take yourself back to a competitive game that you were losing in. Let’s say a ranked ladder match, or a tournament set. When you made a mistake, or your opponent got the better of you, what happened in your brain? What did you say to yourself, in your head or out loud. For example “%*^$ I need to hit my shots!” or “COME ON THAT WAS GARBAGE !”. For some it can even be directed towards themselves like “You need to play better, tighten up, stop being so stupid.”. That is an example of Self 1 in action.
Now think about a game that you were winning in. A game that you would describe yourself as “being in the zone” or “playing out of your mind”. Remember how focused but relaxed you were. There was no judgment, no fear, just execution. That is an example of Self 2 in action, without Self 1 trying to take over. A form of ‘flow state’ if you will.
Self 1 is a representation of your ego. It’s the intellectual side of the process that spends it’s time instructing Self 2 what to do. However, the issue is that Self 2 often doesn’t need instruction. Especially in the way Self 1 is giving it.
Think back to that infant walking. Imagine now if you are that infant’s parent, and you are teaching the walking in the same way Self 1 communicates with Self 2. “Okay now extend your right knee and gently place your foot on the floor. Now apply a small amount of pressure, not too much pressure. Then lift that foot, and start to extend your left knee. DON’T PUT TOO MUCH PRESSURE.”
A little ridiculous right, but how difficult would it be for the infant to walk properly, with instruction like that. The truth is, Self 2 is very good at learning and understanding things without the help of Self 1. For instance, you grabbing your phone, or computer. Navigating to this website and reading this blog didn’t require any assistance from Self 1. Knowing where the buttons on your controller are, or the keys on your keyboard are all because of Self 2. Not Self 1.
Where Does Self 1 Come From?
Self 1 has it’s roots in reward and punishment. From the moment we start to understand praise, and fear, Self 1 comes into existence(Teachers, Parents, Bosses, Friends, etc). When we do extremely well in something, and we feel the emotional rewards of doing well, we want to replicate it as much as possible. So Self 1 will tell Self 2 “Okay, do it just like you did last time. But make sure you don’t do that one thing you did. You’re doing it wrong. We’re never going to get where we were before.”
Suddenly you have a conflict going on inside of you that is actually hindering performance. You didn’t need that instruction the first time you succeeded, why need it now? Self 1 as stated before is a form of your ego. It wants all the credit for everything Self 2 does, because reward is fed directly to Self 1. The same goes for punishment and fear. Fear of losing, fear of letting others and yourself down. It all stems from the same place, and can create that internal and subconscious dialogue.
A Simple Experiment for Self 1
If you want further proof of Self 1’s existence. Take something fairly complex that you perform in your game every day. Some tech skill, or specific play. Now try to demonstrate that tech skill to someone while explaining it. Can you do it? How many tries did it take? Or try to teach it someone and listen to the way you explain it. Think about it, you do it perfectly every game when you’re not talking about it, yet when you attempt to show or teach it, you struggle. That’s because Self 1 is telling you how to do it for your audience. As opposed to Self 2 just doing it because it knows when and how to execute.
This post was intended to introduce the concept of the two selves that coexist inside of you. To show you how Self 1 is a trained behavior that can be disruptive to performance. Both Self 1 and Self 2 need to work in harmony to achieve peak performance.
In our next post we are going to dive into why quieting Self 1 is important to performance and improvement. How to regain trust in the power of Self 2, and how to utilize the Natural Learning Process to make you a better eAthlete.