A Whisper in the Wind

There comes a time when being too hard on yourself gets in the way of being fair to yourself. When working with perfectionists, I often tell them, “You cannot hear me yelling at you if you are yelling at yourself even more loudly.”  I want them to realize that their own intrapersonal communication is so intense that they lose the ability to hear, sense, feel.

One of the most productive things we do in lessons is doing nothing, saying nothing, encouraging a pitcher to feel, experience, and allowing her body and mind to negotiate better ways to do the things we just trained them to do.

I tell her, “We just spent the last 45-minutes training your body to move.  Now, just enjoy pitching.  Shut off your brain, listen to your body, and let it find better ways to get the job done.”  Usually, she has to be reminded to stop thinking along the way, but once she relaxes, she begins to evolve in exciting ways.

Very often I will see her stop, cock her head as if listening intently, maybe squint as she if is looking into the distance, and move into another pitch.  She may look at me for approval, but I look away from her.  She gets the message.  If she has a really bad pitch, I praise her for giving her body the freedom to try things.

The intrapersonal communication gradually changes.  Instead of the mind yelling at the body, the mind starts sensing, listening for subtle changes that will allow the body to work more efficiently.  Sometimes I refer to it as focusing all of your senses as if trying to capture a “whisper in the wind”.

It is rarely the big things that matter most, but a combination of subtle, almost imperceptible moves that change the landscape for an athlete.