The ability to relax cannot be overemphasized and can be defined for our use to mean the ability to leave the game out of your body, but keep it in your mind. Too many coaches and players lose points, games and get ulcers because they cannot control their tempers or attitudes during the game situation. They have let their reactions be determined by the actions of other people, referees, or players. Therefore, they find themselves like puppets on a string, ranting and raving, or awkward and clumsy because they have destroyed the delicate relationship between the body and the mind. They have let their emotions take a disproportionate part in their actions and because of that they have lost their style, poise and grace. We have all seen far too many cases of this and know it's true. (For example: the coach in the ball game who runs up and down the side lines, kicking the ground and the players and screaming and shouting at the referee, the player who can't make a shot because he is so nervous and anxiety ridden, the player who jumps off sides several times or who starts fights for the slightest provocation.) The problem with these people is that they have lost control of their body by letting their mind become confused and disoriented. Your mind cannot think of two things at once and do a good job on either one. You must have a calm mind if you want to make the shot, or to think the play out. Your mind tells and directs your muscles to perform as they have been conditioned but if your mind is racing between being upset and making the shot, being angry and being relaxed then the muscles get contradictory information to them and subsequently do not perform as programmed but become un-coordinated. The brain becomes confused by the huge influx of emotional stimulus and can't reason intelligently, perform adequately and begins to send out all kinds of emergency signals to the body. You see, your mind cannot distinguish between a vividly imagined event and an actual occurrence. So when you begin to think angry, your brain interprets danger and sends out the appropriate body responses. Your adrenaline starts to be released, thereby causing the blood pressure to go up, the heart beats faster, the stomach stops digesting and begins secreting acid, the eyes dilate and the muscles become jerky and tensed. So your body is prepared for attack or defense and when none comes the damage is irreversible. No one is easier to handle than a drunk, or a man that has gone crazy and so angry that he is like a wild man, he obviously can't perform his primary function in the game and so your defense or offensive gets the advantage of having one more player on their side functioning at peak condition and one less on your side not only functioning poorly but probably causing others to perform badly. Ulcers and lost games, fights and lost friends are just some of the results of the inability to relax.
Any great athletic performance seems effortless because the athlete has practiced and practiced until he has programmed his body for the appropriate response. He has learned to keep his mind calm and to relax while performing, thereby conserving his energy and assuring a longer and better performance. He is like a work of art, graceful and beautiful to look at, because he has achieved harmony between his body and mind. A great coach is the same thing. He has learned to teach and train his team with patience, kindness and understanding. He has confidence in his team and his coaching staff. He knows that they will do the best that they can, and that the game is not the time to change previously conditioned responses or to try to do a coaching job that should have been done in practice sessions. So he remains calm and relaxed on the sidelines and usually winds up winning. Of course there are coaches who become involved to a great extent and are also winners, but they cbn't last as long and generally pay for their involvement with ulcers and loss of friends and support. No one likes you when you are upset especially your own body. So let's practice a form of relaxation that takes only 3 minutes and can be as beneficial as 1 hour of sleep.
Relaxation Technique: lie on the floor with the feet together and the palms face down on the sides of the body. Look straight up and do not move the eyes. This is important. Now take a deep breath, hold it for a second and tighten the feet. Now relax and exhale. As you do, say mentally to yourself, "relax, my feet are relaxed." Now take a deep breath and tighten the calves. old the tension a second. As you release the breath say gently to yourself "my calves are relaxed." Take another deep breath and tighten the thighs. Hold it for a second. As you release the breath, relax the thighs.
Your legs are now completely relaxed. You no longer wish to move your legs. You could move your legs, but you no longer wish to move them. Take a deep breath into your stomach, hold it. As the air leaves your stomach, relax your stomach. Now breathe deeply into your lungs. As the air leaves your lungs, relax your chest and let your breath become very subtle and soft. Now breathe and tighten the arms and hands. Hold the tension a second. Then relax. As the breath leaves your arms become very relaxed. Your entire body is now very relaxed and you feel as if you are floating on a cloud, very calm and very relaxed. Take a breath and tighten your neck and shoulders. Hold it and as you let your breath out relax your neck area. Now take a breath and make a large frown, an ugly face. Now relax and breathe out, and relax your face, more and more till your jaw almost drops open. Your entire body is now completely relaxed and you feel extremely calm and relaxed. The only thing left to relax are your eyes. Gently close your eyes. You should immediately start dreaming now.
Just let your mind roam and relax, dream of soft and nice things. Imagine you are floating on a raft in a calm lake, or sailing on a cloud. Relax and feel the air flow through your body, relax and dream. Relax and dream. Let the mind float from one thought to the next, paying no special attention to any thought. Just watch them come and go in the mind like you see cars come and go on the highway. Relax and think of beautiful things. Think of nature, music, art, of love. Relax and feel yourself floating.
Now when one wishes to come out of this relaxed atmosphere, one should not just jump up. Gently open the eyes and take a deep breath and move the fingertips and the toes, breathe again and move the arms and the legs, breathe again and bend the arms and legs, and move the hips. Now take the arms and rub the back of the neck and calmly sit up and relax in a meditative posture for a few more seconds. You will feel very relaxed and quite calm and refreshed. This is truly a valuable way of letting an athlete relax and should be used by all serious students.
Three minutes of this relaxation is better for the body than 1 hour of sleep because it calms the nerves, refreshes the spirit, and soothes the mind. It is fast and simple to do and can be used after a workout or running (three minutes of sitting on the side of the track with the head between the legs trying to regain the breath after running does very little to relax you, while three minutes of this exercise does wonders.)
You can do this exercise lying down and it is very helpful to those who have trouble going to sleep. You can also do this standing up or sitting down during the game on the sidelines. As a coach, just take a few deep breaths and tighten the muscles just as if you were lying down. In a few breaths you will begin to become calm and feel more relaxed. Just close your eyes for a few seconds and suggest to yourself a few pleasant thoughts. Your mind should become calm and relaxed and subsequently your performance as a coach and player will be at its strongest point.
The mind cannot be relaxed and calm when the body is breathing fast and furiously. So the necessity of regaining control over your breath as soon as possible after exertion is very important. Often when we run, we begin to experience anoxia and we get too much blood pumping too much oxygen and lose the delicate balance between good and bad air in our bodies. So we must use our mind to control our breathing and slow our breathing to allow the oxygen, carbon dioxide stages to be equalized.
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