Most of the coaches and players I work with in my Sports Chi program consider Tai Chi, at first, as a slow moving relaxing form of meditation.
Of course I’m biased, because I teach Tai Chi – but the art has so much more to offer sports coaches and players. The principles and selected, adapted skills from Tai Chi can improve a players existing skills and contribute to consistently high performance both in training and games.
I find that when I’m presenting a sports chi session, the best way of getting players to consider Tai Chi as an added effective training method is to get them to practice a Tai Chi technique so they can understand it.
As the ancient sage Confucius once wrote:
I hear and I forget
I see and I remember
I do and I understand
With continued practice a player will learn a technique, and the next step is to focus on the feeling of the technique. Once players capture the feel then they are on their way to performing at a consistently high level when required.
But, before any of this can happen, a coach and a player need to come into a Sports Chi session with an open mind.
The term ‘void’ in Tai Chi means nothingness and this is a necessary state if you are to achieve your goals with as little effort as possible.
This concept of the ‘void’ can be applied to any human activity. In this post I’ll discuss it in terms of sport – in particular, the free throw in basketball.
Free throws are important in a game of basketball and the percentages made can determine the outcome of a game.
Those last few seconds of a game, when the scores are close and free throws are awarded to a player, are critical. Especially in a crowded stadium with opposition supporters making as much noise as possible to distract the shooter. The pressure can make excellent shooters miss.
During this scenario, a player’s mind needs to be in the void – state of nothingness – to improve the chances of making that free throw. There should be no thoughts about the external environment and your own internal state.
The void should cover the times before a player shoots the ball, during the shot and straight after the shot is either made or missed.
One of the techniques I teach players and coaches to help achieve this ‘void state’ is abdominal breathing – it’s one of the steps of a system I use.
There is a rich amount of knowledge and skills from the centuries old Chinese art of Tai chi Chuan (health and self defence system) that can be easily adapted to sports today. And the void is one of them, so don’t avoid the void.
Footnote: To get a better idea of my approach to teaching sports coaches and players, check out my flyer here.
Image courtesy of .Pedrojperez via morguefiles
After more than thirty years of Tai Chi practice, I still set myself challenges to improve my skills.
I’ve avoided the very demanding low stance, because of a concern that it may strain my knees.
I’ve had a problem with my left knee in the past, but have strengthened that area with Tai Chi training so I can now stay in a high stance and mid level stance for a length of time .
A few weeks ago I decided to try the low stance and in my first attempt I couldn’t even get into position without starting to feel a strain.
But, after practicing three times a week, I’ve can now hold this stance in a relaxed mode for twenty seconds.
I started with five seconds and slowly increased my duration.
It’s considered that holding the low stance from between three to five minutes is quite an achievement.
My goal is to get to three minutes at least and I know that it will take me several months, if not longer, to reach that target.
That’s my challenge.
What’s your challenge?
A long clip 22.47 but worth watching if you want to practice Qigong lying down on the floor or in bed. It’s from Acupunx and contains several short segments of breathing and moving exercises.
I may develop my own staff training program so staff can teach aged care residents with restricted mobility issues, in the aged care sector – if there is interest