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There's No Place Like Home

Illustration for article titled There's No Place Like Home

From a recent Jamie Jackson article in the Guardian:

For Martin Perry, a confidence coach whose clients have included Colin Montgomerie and Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal's performer of the season so far, being successful away from home comforts is all about the mind. He cites basketball's greatest ever player to make the point. "Michael Jordan, when he played for Chicago [Bulls], whenever he travelled he used to have a process where he'd familiarise himself with the arena. Say he was playing in LA, he had a process when he arrived, where basically he would introduce himself to all the staff at the venue – the doormen, the safety advisers – as part of the process of making himself feel at home.

"Then he'd go out on court, generally by himself, way before the game started and talk to the court. He'd say: 'Hello,' to it. He'd visualise plays, he'd see exactly how he'd want [the game] to play out. And when he'd done that he'd sit in the stands and talk to the seats, say hello to them, introduce himself and put himself in the mind of spectator there, imagining someone from LA watching him play.

"What he was doing was taking away the unknown – which if it is a venue you only play in occasionally doesn't have anything like the same familiarity as your home stadium. I'm talking about nervous or sensory impressions, because what's happening is that everything looks different: colours, the advertising, fans, how they're dressed. People sitting in seats are not the same people you see every week in your own ground. Your nervous system is having to take in all those new impressions and process all that information and as a result it uses up energy. So when he performed there, because he wasn't using up nervous energy and felt completely comfortable, his talent could flow.

"That's the principle about home and away. Football teams don't do this. They get out of the coach, and what do they do? They wander on to the pitch with programmes and mobile phones. That doesn't make any sense, does it? Because they're not actually processing it."

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