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Feel, Don’t Overthink: The Key to Mastering Sports and Life

Improve Kitesurf

I could feel my anger rising…that feeling of a kettle reaching boiling point, but he was a paying client and I couldn’t let it show…

But for 3 days now I’d been bombarded with an endless barrage of questions…

Where should I be pointing the board? Where exactly should my hands be? Is my hip position correct? Does my bum look big in this wetsuit…?

Well ok not so much the last (it did!) but you get the picture…

On the 3rd day I couldn’t take it any longer and my normal calm and smiling persona was replaced momentarily by the rage monster.

“It doesn’t matter!” I practically screamed at him.

Now this certainly wasn’t the most elegant answer I could have given and I regret the way it was delivered but even now, all these years later…

Improving Performance

I Still Stand By My Answer…

I was teaching kitesurfing at the time and my student was obsessed with the technical know how, the minute details of the sport. The exact angles and amount of force to be applied each and every situation.

And it’s perfectly normal, very often we try to conquer a skill like kitesurfing with knowledge.


The most effective way I’ve EVER found of teaching, is to cut away as much of the technical stuff as possible. To instead allow students to be present in their bodies. To have an image of what they are trying to achieve, enable them to feel what actually doing it would feel like and then forget about the technical stuff, the how, and let their body do it’s stuff.


Effective…Unbelievably so.

I’d give them a VERY basic idea often just a few words of minimal explanation. Then point out someone who was doing it right and ask them to feel what it would feel like if they were doing what that person was doing.  

If they couldn’t feel and visualise it, I’d often actually put them in the position so they could. 

Having done this I’d send them out and tell them to sing their favourite song at the top of their voice with an idiot grin plastered on their face. Or some other exercise designed to force them to focus on anything EXCEPT what it was they were doing.

The Result? 

They flew!

For me coaching isn’t about how much technical information I can give someone. It’s about showing their body what it needs to do and then creating an environment where they feel comfortable enough to forget all that knowledge, relax back into their body and allow their body to take over.

I talk more about this in my Re-Ignite Program.

Still not convinced?

Think about a time you were really in flow. You know that feeling of effortless ease, of every perfect action leading to the next. Were you thinking about the technical details of what you were doing? 


Were you fully in the moment, in flow, just doing it, effortlessly?


Look, even if technical information did work, I couldn’t tell you exactly what to do. As a very simple example, your arms are a different length to mine, you have a different range of flexibility in your hips. So the technical information I would need to give you each time would be subtly different. Way too subtle for my brain to process.

Look if you will at the golf swing. The amount of words which has been written about The Perfect Golf Swing could fill 1000 libraries. Yet when you analyse the swings of 2 different pro golfers  they are often TOTALLY different. Even if physically the golfers themselves appear pretty similar.

It’s not about the technical knowledge it’s about doing what works for YOUR body.

In short most people focus on the software…the detailed technical how.

Where they should be looking at the hardware. By which I mean your body.

If you can make your hardware faster, stronger and more resistant to injury, give it more stamina and the ability to recover faster, if you can do all that…

Then you can’t help but improve in EVERYTHING you do.

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