“Skilled practitioners think strategically and flexibly to cope with challenges as they arise and increase their chances of success.”
This is why athletes returning to a sport after a break may do far better than expected compared to considering their physical form alone. Sharp thinking can also be the difference between going well once or twice, and performing consistently when risk, pressure or other stakes are high.
I was recently interviewed about these topics by Fran Malloy for a feature article, “The Science of the Sporting Comeback”. This story was published on Macquarie University’s Lighthouse website as part of Brain Awareness Week. It reflects the kinds of questions we ask, answers we are finding, and research we get excited by, in the Cognitive Ecologies Lab in the University’s Department of Cognitive Science.
If you’re curious to learn more about the mental side of sport, or an enticing overview of the research I do and what drives it, or even why mountain biking provides such terrific opportunities for learning more about these topics, please follow this link and enjoy the read.
Image: Gaye Camm rides the exit line from the ridiculously fun Trouty trail in Derby Tasmania, without having seen it before suddenly being on it. There are some fascinating cognitive processes involved in staying upright in this scenario!
“Parkour is not as dangerous as it looks from the outside. Part of it is looking at a challenge and breaking down the risk, and then building up the skills to mitigate those risks.”
Back in 2019, I was interviewed by Amelia Dunn for my research expertise on high risk sports for a SBS News story on the rise of women and girls in parkour. In the end, the above quote from me is the only bit of that interview that was needed. What makes the story so strong is the articulate, enthusiastic perspectives of the traceuses (female participants) themselves. As visibility for an increasingly diverse range of experiences in sport continues to grow I hope to see more original, insightful content like this more often.
You can watch or read the feature here. Warning: their energy is infectious and you may not look at the built environment, or think about your own way of moving through it, quite the same way again.
This week we marked a year since my mum died suddenly. A year of challenges, new rituals and a great missingness. A year of building a differently grounded sense of closeness and connectedness with others, of rolling with, and exploring, various thoughts and feelings as they come up, and, more recently, learning to just pause each day and breathe.
Grief is so different for everyone, which is as much to do with the person they are, as the person they lost, and the circumstances that surround that loss. One thought I keep thinking lately is to know and feel this particular experience of grief means also knowing and experiencing such incredible love and loveliness. In that way, I’m so grateful for both these experiences, even though it’s so hard sometimes.
Thank you to friends, family and colleagues for sharing so much support, joy and other experiences this year. To anyone else out there experiencing these feelings I hope you’re finding ways of navigating them that work for you.
[Post originally published on Instragram. Sharing it here as I found it helpful to stumble on webposts from others as I felt my way through this experience.]
My mum, Anne Bicknell, died suddenly on October 27, 2019, the same day as my partner’s birthday. I’m still coming to terms with the shock, I’m sure I will be for a while.
In the whirl of everything-that-followed-next, one of her friends – a former colleague – wrote a beautiful obituary which was published in the Canberra Times. My mum, a proud Canberran, would often send me clippings from the Canberra Times, to fill me in on what friends and role models in the cycling and theatre communities were up to after I moved to Sydney in 2002. These clippings would often come with a little message on Post-it note and a bonus Freddo Frog. One of my mum’s many lovely traits was that she always took time to share little excitements like this, and had a way of adding extra fun to things that were a joy already (like opening mail from your mum).