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Sport: A ki­netic melody of art and sci­ence

A ki­netic melody of art and sci­ence

- By Anushikha Bhas - guest writer

An

amal­ga­ma­tion of var­i­ous hues, dif­fer­ent col­ors even, al­to­gether and yet not in the tini­est frac­tion of a lit­tle bit ob­fus­cat­ing their in­trin­sic souls. Dif­fer­ent but united by the sheer enor­mity of the spirit that has man­i­fested it­self as MOVE­MENT. That is what SPORT rep­re­sents for me; the man­i­fes­ta­tion of the power of the hu­man spirit and will at its peak. It lies there, en­sconced - in not just the thud and thump of a thun­der­ing heart beat - but in the beads of per­spi­ra­tion, the mélange of voices in one’s head, di­choto­mously so of course (calm­ing that men­tal chat­ter re­quires tap­ping into some of that will), the con­trac­tion and relaxation of one’s mus­cles, the feel­ing of one’s lungs on fire. It is the core of ev­ery sportsper­son. Sport, I be­lieve is en­ergy in

“The scene is in­stant, whole and won­der­ful. In its beauty and de­sign that vi­sion of the soar­ing stands, the pat­tern of forty thou­sand em­petalled faces, the vel­vet and un­al­ter­able ge­om­e­try of the play­ing field, and the small lean fig­ures of the play­ers, set there, lonely, tense and wait­ing in their places, bright, des­per­ately soli­tary atoms en­cir­cled by that huge wall of name­less faces, is incredible.” —Thomas Wolfe (Of Time and the River)

man­i­fest form as I’d men­tioned ear­lier, a con­duit for the pat­terns of the uni­verse to play them­selves out. Al­low­ing that spirit to take shape in its own unique way is in­deed a her­culean task and the tools and tech­niques that sci­ence has to of­fer, I be­lieve, pro­vides the fuel for this process.

My per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences com­pet­ing in mar­tial arts at both the na­tional and in­ter­na­tional lev­els from a young age, has given me the op­por­tu­nity to gain bet­ter in­sight into the con­di­tions and men­tal states that im­prove or hin­der sport­ing per­for­mance; like ‘flow states’ and sport­ing anx­i­ety, both of which I have ex­pe­ri­enced. In­jury and the en­su­ing re­cov­ery pro­cesses were some­thing that I ex­pe­ri­enced as well. A ‘flow state can bring out one’s ‘A-game’ while anx­i­ety can be crip­pling and can of­ten lead to out­comes

a lot worse than de­feat, if not chan­neled in the right way. The sev­eral vic­to­ries I have en­joyed have been a re­sult of the in­ad­ver­tent use of the right ef­fort, train­ing meth­ods and men­tal states.

I say in­ad­ver­tent be­cause my ex­pe­ri­ences in sport had been more per­for­mance ori­ented than an­a­lyz­ing the process be­hind its op­ti­miza­tion. What al­lowed me to start fo­cus­ing on ‘process’ and ‘de­lib­er­ate prac­tice’ had been the de­feats I suf­fered from and the breaks I’d been forced to take due to in­jury, which gave me time to think. My first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence of train­ing and com­pet­ing in com­bat sports, is, I feel, one of the rea­sons I be­gan to de­velop a fas­ci­na­tion for sport and all the sci­ence work­ing in con­junc­tion with it.

In or­der to max­i­mize one’s po­ten­tial, one must, in­cor­po­rate sci­en­tific prin­ci­ples into their re­spec­tive train­ing. The role of a sports sci­en­tist lies in the afore­men­tioned de­tail, to work as­sid­u­ously at pro­vid­ing the sci­en­tific back­bone to ev­ery tech­nique, reg­i­men/train­ing se­quence. The ra­tio­nal­ity, ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, hy­poth­e­siz­ing, ob­serv­ing and ac­tive par­tak­ing of the fruit of cu­rios­ity that is in­nate in sci­ence (to men­tion a few) in­ter­twined ed with the beauty of sport, both fas­ci­nates ates and in­spires me to delve more deeply ly into this area.

The nu­ances and in­tri­ca­cies as­so­ci­ated with sport are so mul­ti­tudi­nous, that I feel I must - in or­der to dive into deeper waters - both study and em­ploy the sci­en­tific method as­so­ci­ated with it. In Oliver Sack’s book, ‘A Leg to Stand On’, he de­scribes move­ment as a ‘ki­netic melody’.

I truly feel like the term per­fectly en­cap­su­lates the process. Mus­cle co­or­di­na­tion, syn­chro­niza­tion, tim­ing; all played out as mu­sic in ki­netic form. My ap­pre­ci­a­tion for even the sim­plest of co­or­di­nated move­ments springs from the very fact of my hav­ing read about the pro­pri­o­cep­tive mech­a­nisms be­hind move­ment, which was so beau­ti­fully de­lin­eated in the book. As el­e­gant or mag­nif­i­cent as move­ment looks (in terms of sport and ex­er­cise), it is the sci­ence with all its al­lur­ing com­plex­ity, that of­fers mean­ing to it all. That any ma­neu­ver, as sim­ple as it may look, is held up by so many sci­en­tific pro­cesses, work­ing so ef­fi­ciently even with­out the knowl­edge of the doer, amazes me be­yond mea­sure.

Cracked beauty - like the Ja­panese process of in­lay­ing bro­kenb porce­lain with gold - is what sums up sposports sci­ence for me. It is like a con­stant os­mo­siso be­tween pierc­ing the whole ddis­ci­pline with the in­tel­lect, sub­ject­ing it to sci­en­tific rea­son­ing and the aes­thetic el­e­ments of sport: logic form­form­ing the re­gion of high con­cen­tra­tion at some mo­mo­ments and beauty/ aes­thet­ics mak­ing up thet re­gion at other mo­ments - me be­ing the sesemiper­me­able mem­brane-dy­namic equi­lib­rium ata its best, per­haps.

About the author

Anushikha Bhas has mul­tido­main ex­pe­ri­ence in the fields of life-sciences, sport and health with a Mas­ter’s De­gree from the Univer­sity of Ex­eter, UK. Her in­ter­ests span across do­mains of sport, art, sci­ence, lit­er­a­ture and creative writ­ing. Her cur­rent re­search ex­plores the psy­chophys­i­ol­ogy of flow states.

Links

Twit­ter: @ace­s­port_b­has

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