One of the seven elements in Terry Orlick’s Wheel of Excellence is “mental readiness” or preparation. This is an often overlooked key to performing well. Many struggling athletes and even some professionals often don’t prepare themselves both physically and mentally for an upcoming event or performance. The body is usually prepared but the mind has been forgotten. One of the essentials to performing well is a state where the body and the mind are in harmony (it is one of the defining qualities of being in the zone).
One of the monthly themes of the Silent Mind Sports Website is the body/mind connection. Our first article in this genre presents ideas from the discipline of Feldenkrais, moving from the body to the mind. We can ready the mind through the body as well as developing mental readiness through the mind or mental training.
Mental readiness is the state of being ready to perform. It is a state of mind that is positive and confident. It is a state reached through the application of goal mapping, imagery positive self-talk, and positive affirmations. Most of all it is a state of being prepared.
What does preparation mean in sport? It means that we have prepared our mind as well as our body. We have practiced both mentally and physically.
From this practice we have developed a routine for not only our physical moves of our sport, but our thinking. We have practiced our moves and practiced visualizing these moves. We have set goals and followed the map that we created to reach these goals. Practice the following exercise as part of your body/mind balancing during your pre-event preparation.
Use this exercise for physical and mental flexibility, and set your mind and body into a calm, relaxed state. This drill will also help to prevent injury. This technique comes from the discipline of Feldenkrais®, developed by Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais physicist and Judeo Master. It teaches the athlete to use her entire physical structure to move more efficiently, by creating more choices and creating patterns of effortless movement which also protect against injury. It is taught by trained instructors who lead you through a series of small movements different from our habitual ones. This is done through the use of body scans, a mental technique of guided imagery allowing you to sense each part of your body in an ordered fashion as you move attention from one part to another.
Follow the instructions within the exercise. Move as slow as you can and sense how each segment of the spine rotates. Notice the use of your muscles and bones as well as your mental attention as you move.
Warm up routine (From Feldenkrais, Awareness through Movement®)
Key to many sports, especially the golf swing, this routine creates greater flexibility in trunk rotation. Slowing down attention and motion helps to center us before playing, also allowing a greater sensitivity to tempo.
Stand tall, holding a club, bat, or light bar in both hands with your arms stretched out in front of your chest.
- Turn your whole self to the right, including your head, arms, pelvis to the right, holding it there, now move your arms with the club to the left as if you are moving through water or molasses (slow and then slower). Continue to turn to the left until you are completely rotated, then rotate back to the right with your arms. Repeat 3-5 times. Rest return to the front. Rest a moment.
- Again as if in molasses, turn your whole self to the right. Once you reach as far as you can go to the right, begin to slowly, very slowly rotate your head to the left, keeping your arms to the right, 3-5 times.
- Now, keep your head left and begin to slowly move your arms to the left until you reach the point where you can’t rotate anymore. Holding the head where it is, move your arms back to the right as slow as you can. When you think you are going as slow as you can, go even slower. While you are moving your arm or head, scan your body, feel your muscles in your arms, your back, your chest slowly move and rotate as you move your arms. Try to sense and feel nothing but this movement, no other thoughts in your head. Do this several times, feeling the slowness of the motion, feeling your ribs and muscles move—keep your focus on the movement—no other thoughts—stay in the present.
- Rest return to the front. Rest a moment.
- Turn your whole self to the right, including your head, arms, pelvis to the right. See if the movement has become easier, lighter. Can you rotate more to the right?
- Repeat movement going to the left.
Enjoy your new sensitivity, flexibility and relaxation in knowing you have also increased your coordination!
For more information: www.bodyinmotion.us