Finding the Soul in Sports
The unusual way I created a new sport
I was struck by “sports lightning” when I was 16. Think of a cinematic moment where everything slowed down around you on a basketball court and you seem to know exactly how to move and exactly what to do. You didn’t even have to think; you just do it. And every decision you make is perfect. You’re in your zone and in your flow (if you watch the Soul movie). And then, the moment’s gone.
For the next 14 years as an athlete, I looked for a way to reproduce this feeling on demand: visualization, breathing technique, yoga, meditation. The Japanese have a perfect word for it — Satori — that’s when you not only experience “the zone”, but you can actually be “in the zone” at will.
The closest I was to replicating this feeling was when I played squash one summer. That off-season, I must have played more squash than I even played basketball. As a result, I had a fantastic season when back on the basketball court. I was better, and the game seemed slower. I was thinking less and just playing freely.
A couple of years later, as my career as a pro basketball player was coming to an end, I resumed my quest for the flow, but this time, as a basketball coach. I was obsessed with the concept of fast decision making, which was indeed the best explanation I had for the “in the zone” feeling. I read many books, tried hundreds of drills and new sports concepts in an attempt to reproduce the effect I had after playing squash. I wanted my players to understand the soul of sports.
And then it came. I figured out how I could induce fast decision making within athletes. I combined a fast pace tennis drill* (where balls are thrown at high velocity to a tennis player) and the concept of reducing space we have seen in futsal (a derivative from soccer). Then I added this to a profound learning concept, where athletes and musicians learn better with constant small errors**. I then incorporated the quick repetitive fast-paced aspect of squash and the idea of line change in hockey (I find it really cool that in hockey, you just switch players on the fly). Figuratively put all that in a mixer, with my in-depth knowledge of basketball sprinkle with my intrigue for foreign sports, and voilà!
The lightbulb then came on. What if instead of high-speed balls, it was human beings who were « thrown » at you, where they only had to touch you, and you had nowhere to run with the ball, so you have to make constant quick decisions? What if your height and muscular build didn’t matter, but only your speed in analyzing your environment was the one skill you had to master?
The next day, with my teenagers at school, the first version was played, and immediately, it was a hit. A new sport was born. The same day, I emailed 30 top basketball, soccer, football, and volleyball players from Quebec City to try out a “secret sport” in a “secret location.” In fact, I told them to “break the code” of this sport. I told them to find the crack and destroy the game. They played and had the time of their life, just like little kids playing ball for the first time. Better yet, grown men playing sports without any contact. Nobody found a way to beat the rules. That’s when I knew this was going to be a massive breakthrough in the sports ecosystem. It’s been a while since a completely new sport has been invented.
The next few years have helped me create 10 iterations of the sport, always trying to go deeper into the decision making, always trying to keep injuries at the lowest, and always trying to keep a maximum of movement for every player. I also tried to keep every player in “the zone.”
We even found a pretty cool name. Most of the players refused to use the term “ball.” They found that to be lame, old school and did not reflect this sport’s true nature. This was about being a kid again (Pür). It was not about a ball. It was about humans moving with or without the ball. The only thing you really use on every play was your INSTINCT.
So, the weird-looking dynamic sport became known as PürInstinct.
Now I’m here. I found my Satori. I found what I was desperately looking for. I found my soul. It’s now time to implement my vision to create unique communities from this powerful sport. That’s another cool story for another time, which is unfolding every day.
CEO and founder of PürInstinct
Notes: Two books have been instrumental in my pursuit of this project:
*Inner game of tennis by Timothy Gallwey (https://www.amazon.com/Inner-Game-Tennis-Classic-Performance/dp/0679778314)
** The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle (https://www.amazon.com/Talent-Code-Greatness-Born-Grown/dp/055380684X)