In my spare time recently, I started playing Infinity Blade 3 pretty obsessively. For those who have never played any of the games, it is essentially a hack and slash game where players are rewarded for their ability to determine how best to counter their opponent’s attacks. So for example, the computer might spin around and then try to slash at you vertically from the ground up. In order to ensure you don’t get hit, you can either dodge or parry the attack with the appropriate counter attack (which in this case would be a vertical strike down towards the ground).
With that said, there’s one boss (aka The Collector) that has been consistently crushing me (and taking my weapons which is demoralizing) when I lose. The sad thing is that it’s not because he’s necessarily stronger or better than me. In fact, there were a number of times where I was just one combo away from a victory, but then I choke at the last second and die.
Now most people might chalk it up to nerves or something, but it hit me that this was actually a pattern with me. In fact, I can recount numerous times where a game of go was within the clutches of my victory and yet it would slip through my grasp at the very end. And like any good inquisitive person looking to always improve, I started wondering whether I could locate the root of this pattern.
After a lot of thought and losing to The Collector a few more times, I actually noticed something right as I was about to lose once again: my heart raced at an incredible speed and I was extremely hyper-active. Yup. You read that right. I was able to notice an actual physiological change as I approached the line of victory and was about to choke.
Once I noticed this, I thought back to all the times of competition or when there was a lot of pressure and I choked. Sure enough, a faint memory of that sort of hyper-activity and heart rate speeding up was pretty consistent in each time that I choked. Of course, there were times where I was lucky and still managed to succeed, but the majority of the evidence was against me.
Hyper-activity might sound like a good thing at first; but in my case, I was actual becoming overly active and racing too fast for my own good. In other words, my brain raced ahead at 200 mph while the rest of my body was desperately trying to catch up at its 100 mph. As you might expect, this leads to a lot of actions that are disjointed. The intentions are but half-formed and the body’s intent to carry out the actions are more out of nerves than anything else.
In fact, upon much self-introspection, I came to the conclusion that my best performances were always during times where both my mind and body were one. If I was able to keep my mind and body running in sync, there was a synergy that did not exist before. Moves flowed easier, and I managed to be able to avoid choking at the last minute when battling The Collector once again. Perhaps with more training, I will be able to avoid ever choking in a game of go (or anything else for that matter) again.