What is anticipation? The definition for the layman is a type of foretelling of events that are going to happen in the very near future. This is often applied to the world of sports where an athlete possesses a second nature in his ability to make a play that predicts where other players are going to be on the ice, court or field. Many experts believe that something like this cannot be taught and that a player has a second nature of anticipation that is hard wired into their brain. One must remember the worst thing that any athlete can do in a fast paced sport is think, what you want to do is react to the play that is evolving in front of you.
The greatest exponent of anticipation and second nature in the history of sports is the hockey player named Wayne Gretzky. A man who was blessed with a anticipatory mind like no other. Wayne was a hockey player of average size, almost like a golfer. He had great hand skills that matched his awesome brain power. As for Wayne's skating ability he had decent speed and quickness but he was not what you would call a speedster.
As Wayne tore the National Hockey record book into smithereens many of the so called experts predicted his downfall. But as Wayne annihilated record after record the critics began to eat their words. These same critics then started to analyze Wayne's playing style to see what really made him so good. They knew it was not his speed or size that allowed him to dominate. It was his uncanny ability to see the ice to the point that announcers had coined the term, "Wayne plays like he has eyes in the back of his head."
His hockey sense was a combination of peripheral vision, anticipation of where the puck was going to go, anticipation of where his teammates were going to be on the ice, and anticipation of where his opponents were going to be on the ice. But it was so much more than that as Wayne could see more than just the play that was developing, he had the foresight to see what was going to happen two or three plays ahead, which is hard to comprehend. Wayne also had sense for on ice awareness such as how long players had been on the ice so he could take advantage of players that were tired, he had a built in internal game clock that allowed him to know how much time was left in a powerplay or a period.
There are many today that say that he could not play into today's National Hockey League. The truth is that 1000 years from now he would still be the greatest because no amount of physical speed or power can anticipate three plays in advance or make the lightning calculations of his brain. No matter what physical advances occur no player will ever be able to match the brain of The Great Wayne Gretzky.