The Art Of Listening - Commentary
November 1, 2010By Kevin Conley of KHS GameNight
By Kevin B. Conley
Many different skill sets are necessary to be successful in athletics. Speed, quickness, strength and endurance are among the most obvious traits of a successful athlete. And, while very few athletes possess all of the possible skill sets, there is one ability that seems to be shared by those special athletes who rise above the rest.
The ability to listen.
At first glance, one would assume that the ability to listen is something anyone could do. After all, most everyone can hear. However, as we begin to scratch the surface, we quickly realize that listening really has nothing to do with hearing. Listening goes beyond the actual audible instructions given by coaches and teachers, moving into the realm of being able to combine instructions with focus, discipline and understanding to achieve the given directive.
Hearing is simply the act of perceiving sound by the ear. For most, hearing simply happens. Listening, however, is something one consciously chooses to do. Listening requires concentration so that your brain processes meaning from words and sentences.
If the differences between hearing and listening can be identified, why then does the problem remain that not everyone has the ability to listen?
Many times, the breakdown occurs when one assumes they know what is going to be said before it is actually said. When we feel we already know what's coming next, we have the tendency to "tune out" - we stop listening and merely hear what is being said. And, athletes are not the only ones susceptible to this. We do this in our everyday lives.
All of us have been speaking to someone and suddenly realize that they are not listening to us. They may be look at us, even nodding their head in agreement, but the is no doubt that they are not listening to what we are saying. We have been undoubtedly tuned out.
Students tune out their professors. Parents tune out their children. Husbands tune out their wives - and vice versa. It is a fact of life and in many instances the one tuning out does not even realizing they are doing it - it just happens.
Sometimes the breakdown occurs due to a preoccupation with something other than the subject at hand. For athletes, especially high school athletes, the pressures of academics can be a source of extreme pressure. An upcoming exam or heavily weighted project can occupy the thoughts of a student athlete. Relationships can also be a hindrance to listening. Problems at home or with girlfriends or boyfriends can cause the breakdown between hearing and listening.
Even though we understand why this breakdown can sometimes happen, it will undoubtedly continue to take place from time to time. Those who can overcome this issue will achieve at greater levels than those who do not.
It all comes down to this.
If we have the desire to listen, we will. If there is something else we would rather be doing, then we will most likely only hear what is being said and not listen to it. The choice is yours.