Really Seeing the Opponent and the Opportunities to Strike – Part 3: In Slow Motion

In “Part 2: Reflections,” I described the recollection of perceiving a strike come towards me as if in slow motion during keiko in at least one rare instance.  This reminded me of other similar experiences:  during an intramural playoff game of ice-hockey years ago when the game seemed to slow down, in a taxi slammed on the rear side by a car that ran a red-light where the car seemed to approach the taxi in slow motion and the world began to spin around the taxi slowly and, finally, beautiful and unforgettable peak moments in life where time seemed to stand still.  I have heard and read such stories from others and perhaps you, too, have had such experiences.

As a way to better understand this phenomenon, I searched for sports coaches, athletes and authors who describe this experience and the mechanism behind it.  Here’s a set of quotes below organized as follows:

  • Coaches:
    • Dr. Tom Hanson
    • Ryan Harrison
  • Athletes:
    • George Brett
    • John McEnroe
    • Mark Richardson
  •  Authors:
    • Joseph Clark et al.,
    • Jim Spadaccini
  • In General (Not specific to sports or martial arts)
    • Enoch Tan
    • Additional Authors
  • Peak Experiences

I plan to add more quotes as I discover them.


The quieter you become the more you can hear. – Anonymous


Dr. Tom Hanson from [Hanson_Slow]

Dr. Hanson has apparently worked with the New York Yankees and other professional baseball teams as a Performance Enhancement Coach.

  • We’re very oriented towards threat and when we feel threatened, we have what I call the inner umpire that’s constantly evaluating right now:  “Am I safe?  Am I safe?  Am I safe?”  And if I’m safe, then the game will seem slow, everything is fine. I have full access to my talent, full access to my brain … and everything is cool.  1:39min
  • So, if you have a player like Derek Jeter (New York Yankees), he tends to play even better in the playoffs because he feels like he’s safe.  His inner umpire is saying “Yeah man, this is awesome.  This is so much fun.” 2:02min
  • Whereas most players freeze and when you freeze like that you lose access to your full brain and so everything is going to speed up because you’re looking for where the danger is.  2:20min
  • People ask, what do I do?  4:00min
    • Well, I upgrade people’s inner umpire.  I help them say: “Oh, I guess I am safe.  I guess my life is not on the line here with this 3-2 pitch.  I would like something to happen that I’m committed to executing.  But you know what, in the big scheme of things I’m okay.”
    • And you know that intellectually.  But we’re not dealing with your intellect.  The inner umpire makes this decision before you can rationalize it.  So, it (the intellect) is short-circuited.  “You know your mom’s name Joe.  Just relax.”   But you can’t because this inner umpire bypasses it. 

(Editor comment:  My interpretation on this is that we need to work on reprogramming the subconscious which is much more powerful than the conscious mind.)

Ryan Harrison [HarrisonR_Slow]

Ryan Harrison is a sports performance vision trainer who has apparently worked with the San Francisco Giants and many other professional baseball organizations.

  • From [HarrisonR_Slow]
    • (W)hen athletes are at their best, they see things, things slow down, they don’t think about a lot. When they struggle, they think about a lot. The ball looks fast. The ball looks like a little missile.
    • What we want to do is learn how to control that and teach them a method of how they can slow the ball down or slow the action down and be in the right visual focus.
  • From [HarrisonR_EMBSpeed]
    • Those that possess great EMB (Eye-Mind-Body) Speed and Control see their game in large chunks, and it all appears in slow motion. 
    • Those without these skills see the game like a blur, miss important visual cues and are often late to react as they make more mistakes.
    • Put simply, an athlete with great EMB Speed and Control sees the game at a higher level and performs actions without delay or thought.


George Brett

  • From [Pavlovich_Vision] as recounted by Dr. Bill Harrison, father of Ryan Harrison and a long-time Vision Trainer for Professional Baseball Teams:
    • George many times told me, as have numerous other major league players, when he was 100 percent focused on slowing the ball down, tracking it all the way, he could actually see the ball hit the bat.
    • We recognize that certain eye tracking research suggests that this can not be done, but eye trackers, being limited in their scope, do not take in to consideration the player’s ability to project the ball’s action and to make a rapid eye movement to the exact intended contact point.

John McEnroe

  • Things slow down, the ball seems a lot bigger and you feel like you have more time. Everything computes – you have options, but you always take the right one.

Mark Richardson (a Former Sprinter)

  • About being in the zone as a runner:
    • It’s a very strange feeling. It’s as if time slows down and you see everything so clearly. You just know that everything about your technique is spot on. It just feels so effortless; it’s almost as if you’re floating across the track.  Every muscle, every fiber, every sinew is working in complete harmony and the end product is that you run fantastically well. [Ury_Yourself, p. 62]


Joseph Clark et al.

  • This is from a 2012 study “High-Performance Vision Training Improves Batting Statistics for University of Cincinnati Baseball Players”
    • Vision training can combine traditional and technological methodologies to train the athletes’ eyes and improve batting. Vision training as part of conditioning or injury prevention can be applied and may improve batting performance in college baseball players.
    • The University of Cincinnati team batting average increased from 0.251 in 2010 to 0.285 in 2011 (as members underwent vision training exercises).

Jim Spadaccini [Spadaccini_MakingSaves]

  • When a goalie is in the zone he seems invincible to the opposing players.

  • Most goalies who reach this mental state say that the game appears to slow down and that the puck seems much larger.
  • Some goalies say that they just stick out their glove hand and the puck finds its way into it – that responses become automatic. After such saves, a goalie sometimes wonders how he did it.

In General (Not specific to sports or martial arts)

Enoch Tan [Tan_Slow]

  • “It is not time that slows down but you that slows down.”
  • Only when you are calm are you able to perceive things in slow motion.
  • As the mind becomes tranquil, many things begin to become clear.

Additional Authors:

  • You have to be able to slow down enough to switch your focus away from all the ways things could be better, to know how good they already are. – Katherine Ellison
  • A mind that is racing over worries about the future or recycling resentments from the past is ill equipped to handle the challenges of the moment. By slowing down, we can train the mind to focus completely in the present. Then we will find that we can function well whatever the difficulties. That is what it means to be stress-proof: not avoiding stress but being at our best under pressure, calm, cool, and creative in the midst of the storm. – Eknath Easwaran

On Peak Experiences

  • Abraham Maslow
    • (P)eak experiences are sudden feelings of intense happiness and well-being, possibly the awareness of an “ultimate truth” and the unity of all things … the experience fills the individual with wonder and awe….he feels at one with the world, and is pleased with it …
    • In peak experiences, there is a tendency to move more closely to a perfect identity, or uniqueness, or to the idiosyncrasy of the person or to his real self, to have become more a real person. The person feels himself more than at other times to be responsible, active, the creative center of his own activities and of his own perceptions, more self-determined, more a free agent, with more ‘free will’ than at other times…. The peak-experiencer becomes more loving and more accepting, and so [s]he becomes more spontaneous and honest and innocent.
    • The peak-experiencer becomes more loving and more accepting, and so he becomes more spontaneous and honest and innocent.
    • (Peak-experience) does not make four apples visible where there were only three before, nor do the apples change into bananas.  No! it is more a shift in attention, in the organization of perception, in noticing or realizing, that occurs.
    • Peaks come unexpectedly …. You can’t count on them. And hunting them is like hunting happiness. … It comes as a by-product, an epiphenomenon, for instance, of doing a fine job at a worthy task you can identify with.
  • Colin Wilson
    • Human beings do not realise the extent to which their own sense of defeat prevents them from doing things they could do perfectly well. The peak experience induces the recognition that your own powers are far greater than you imagined them.
  • Note:  Tim Lebon has compiled a set of resources on “Peak Experiences” which includes Maslow’s Full text of Religions, Values and Peak Experiences.


[Clark_Vision] Joseph Clark et al., “High-Performance Vision Training Improves Batting Statistics for University of Cincinnati Baseball Players” PLoS One, Jan 19, 2012.

[Davis_Slow] Josh Davis, “How to Trick Your Brain to Slow Down Time,”, Oct 1, 2016.

[DrinkTru_MikeCondon] | Mike Condon – Vision Training with an NHL Goalie, Apr 6, 2017 (4:30mins – starting from 2:05).

[Hanson_Slow] YouGoProBaseball, “How to slow the game down,” Sept 14, 2013 (6:57 mins).

[HarrisonR_EMBSpeed] “The Essence of Athletic Greatness – Eye-Mind-Body Speed,”, March 22, 2019.

[HarrisonR_Slow] “BC90: Ryan Harrison – SlowTheGameDown – Vision Performance Trainer,”, April 3, 2019.

[Pavlovich_Vision] Lou Pavolich, Jr, “The Baseball Vision of Barry Bonds,” SlowTheGameDown Blog, April 15, 2016.

[Raab_Slow] Diana Raab, “How to Slow Down Time,” Psychology Today, May 16, 2017.

[Spadaccini_MakingSaves] Jim Spadaccini, “Making Saves,”

[Tan_Slow] Enoch Tan, “How to Slow Down Time With Your Mind,” MindPowerNews.

[Ury_Yourself] William Ury, Getting to Yes with Yourself: and Other Worthy Opponents, HarperOne, 2015.

Copyright 2019


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