Background from Ben

In his piece from Monday, Jerry wrote, "We know that exercise can be used as a modality to help people overcome their limitations." I will attest to that. Jerry and I have been working together for a little more than a year now. When we started working together, I was in a pretty dark place, both because of some difficult events in my personal life over the prior year-and-a-half and because of some deeply ingrained negative habits that were getting in my way. Using Jerry's techniques to free up my energy has had a revelatory impact in my life. I'm in a vastly better place than I've been in for many, many years. (I wrote some about that process here. Quick warning: in that piece I was writing for a more personal audience, so there's some, ahem, salty language.)

Training Tiger Woods is an attempt to take those techniques to the next level. As Jerry put it, "TTW is an attempt to create a training program to help people … maximize their potential." I've already seen limitations evaporate. Just how far can we take this?

Our hypothesis is that, by applying the energy awareness that Jerry's techniques make available--by being able to feel the flow of energy in ourselves and see the flow of energy in others--we'll be able to radically increase the speed of improvement. Oh, and this is at least as important: we'll be able to have a lot more fun as well.

TTW came about in part because of how I have been applying Jerry's techniques to the sports I participate in. I'm an avid soccer player, and I've been doing my best to use his techniques on the soccer field since we began working together last fall. However, in that arena I've struggled somewhat to really bring them to fruition. Playing soccer has been a major part of my life since 2001. I have a certain amount of ego invested in the game, and it's something that I've had a lot of time to develop habits around. It requires a lot of conscious energy to change habits, and I've been playing long enough and successfully enough that it's easy for me to fall into them without realizing it.

This spring, I took the techniques to the tennis court, where I found some real success. I hadn't played since before I started working with Jerry, which meant first of all that I could start my explorations on the court from a place of a certain proficiency with the techniques. I also wasn't carrying too much baggage. I played tennis as a kid and showed some recreational-level promise, but quit after not making the eighth-grade team at my middle school. I played a very small handful of times over the years, then came back to the game a couple of autumns ago, but didn't play enough to tie too much of myself to the sport. By having been away from it for so long, I had little ego invested in my relationship to the game, which gave me a lot of space to play with energy techniques.

I started learning some interesting things about myself through the game. I learned about habitual energy responses. I learned about ways in which I'd played out aspects of my personality on the court from a very young age. I learned how other people handled (usually unconsciously) energy dynamics. I even found my way to some understanding about why I'd struggled with choking in the face of an opponent's frustration back when I was a kid. (In short: I didn't want to be disliked.) These are the kinds of things that open to you when you learn to feel what your blocks are.

Then while I was on my roadtrip this summer, my interest in golf resurfaced. As I wrote about previously, I saw highlights (if you can call them that) of Tiger at the U.S. Open and found myself thinking about Jerry's techniques and how much they'd help Tiger. Also, for the first time in years, I hit a few golf balls, which got me thinking about the techniques and how much they might help me.

Here on TTW, I'll be using and writing about TTW techniques in all three sports I've mentioned so far and others as well. (I'm also an avid mountain biker, skier and snowboarder, and I have played with the techniques in all these arenas.) Golf, however, will get special emphasis for the reasons Jerry touched on in his last piece: the way golf is scored gives something of an objective perspective on your performance on any given day. Also, golf is an activity we both participate in and would like to improve at, so in golf we have a unique opportunity for each of us to serve as both student and teacher.

We're early in this process, but I'd say so far the results to our experiment have been very favorable. I've seen improvements in my game, sure, but what's really interesting are the improvements in my ability to feel the game. How do you know when you're hitting the ball well, besides the flight path of the ball? How do you correct your mistakes on your own? You have to learn to feel the swing. It's the only way.

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