Schmidt and Lee’s chapter on Attention and performance further described the mind’s extraordinary ability to handle multiple stimulus and tasks. I’ve always been at awe at this phenomenon and was really excited to read the various theories that attempted to explain it. However, I do not wish to delve into the said theories but rather want to point out some of the extraordinary feats that the mind can accomplish.
Perhaps the most pervasive and telling example is that of driving. When we first learn to drive, every single movement and decision was painfully labored. For those of us that learned to drive on a manual transmission, that process seem to be quadruple in difficulty level. The number of stimuli thrown at a learning driver may seem overwhelming and way too much for one’s attention capacity. Nevertheless, the driver slowly learns to deal with all the stimuli, learning to filter out and prioritize them, and developing automatic processing to make the process more efficient and less demanding.
In the sport of soccer, the players are likewise bombarded with multiple stimuli. Such stimuli does not only come in one direction, like that of a driver, it comes from all over, 360 degrees around the player. When the player is on the ball, that number of stimuli increases since the ball is the focal point of the game and that the other 21 players’ focus is now on you. Your task: maintain control of the ball with your feet, observe and assess field conditions that are constantly changing by players making runs and moving about, determine where your teammates are and which of them are in effective position, often times directing your teammates to where they should be, being aware of your opponents, where they are, and who is actually coming at you, and maybe, if you still have control of the ball at this point, deciding which of your teammates you would carefully kick the ball to, taking into consideration their constant movement and that of the opponents. Or maybe you would fancy a shot on goal, where you’ll have to place your shot where the goalkeeper will not easy smother or gather. I think that’s a pretty tall order.