The Effortless Throw

Former Olympic champion Primoz Kozmus is producing hundreds of pounds of force but you wouldn't know it by looking at his face.Over the years I have used this blog to discuss the work of coaches, athletes, psychologists, physiologists, biomechanists, and economists. But I have not once discussed the work of a philosopher. Since I have my bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, I have to take that opportunity once it arises. In a New York Times Online piece earlier this month, philosophy professor Barbara Gail Montero dissects the widespread view that thinking about what you are doing while doing it interferes with performance. There are few philosophical topics which relate more directly to hammer throwing.

In many areas, thinking about an action can make its execution worse. As Montero notes, “Start thinking about just how to carry a full glass of water without spilling, and you’ll end up drenched.” But this isn’t the case for all actions. Ordinary actions like carrying water will be easier when you do them without thinking about it. But when you start looking at the actions of experts, or hammer throwers, the just do it approach doesn’t always hold. And, for Montero, this is the area that interests her since she has a forthcoming book on thought and effort in expert action.


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5 replies
  1. Zach Hazen
    Zach Hazen says:

    This is one of my favorite posts of yours. Very insightful and satisfying to consider. Keep up the good work!


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] It is a feeling I have never been able to find in any other pursuit. And the occasional and elusive “effortless throw” makes it even more blissful. There is truly no better way to start the […]

  2. […] its impact. But one suggestion is to simply just do it, as the Nike slogan suggests. I’ve criticized the “just do it” mentality in the past and Beilock agrees that this isn’t the mindset needed when you are […]

  3. […] under stress can be trained and improved. Similarly, bringing technique to the point where it works on autopilot is the goal of many throwers. But this is not always a good thing since if technique is controlled […]

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