Posture plays a vital role in improving your performance on the court. But, what is Neutral Posture? What role does it play in your performance and how do you find your Neutral Posture?
Neutral Posture is when your body is in correct alignment; where all body parts are supported by the right amount of muscle tension; where the nerves are unobstructed allowing the blood to flow without restriction and relieving stress on the joints. There will be an ease to your body because through extension of the body, you create internal space enabling the body to work more efficiently. There will be a release of the tensile energy bound in the global muscles and movement is done with less effort allowing you to endure longer sessions on the tennis court.
Performance gains can be achieved when posture is improved. Efficiency of movement allows the muscles to be more reactive and responsive to on court demands such as change of direction movements, power in strokes and recovery between points. The body’s organs will be able to function at optimal levels which can improve breathing and stamina. When your body is balanced, you also reduce the risk of injuries. From a mental standpoint, standing tall and proud promotes a good attitude which is important to maintaining a winning disposition!
Finding Your Neutral
You often hear people who teach yoga talk about the mind/body connection. Proprioception, being aware of how your body moves in space and time. These are both topics that we will get into a little later in the series; but they all begin with the awareness of self. Awareness is about using your senses to see, hear and feel yourself.
Observe how you look when you stand facing a mirror
Is one shoulder higher than the other or more hooked forward?
Do you shift your body weight into one hip?
Where is your weight distributed in your feet - Inside? Outside?
Listen to how you move
How do you feel?
Remember, this exercise is about awareness, so, try not to place judgment on whether you are doing it ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. Neutral Posture is unique to each individual: yours will look different then your friend’s.
This exercise should be done in your bare feet. Take a moment and shake your body out.
Stand with your feet under your hips. Lift your toes up off the ground and place them back down. Be aware of the sensations under your feet.
Place your hands on your hips and gently tilt your pelvis back and forth, finding freedom in your pelvis.
Lift your shoulders up towards your ears as you inhale. Open them up and exhale as you let them release down.
Bring the back of your head slightly back with your chin parallel to the ground - your head is an extension of your spine and will feel as if it is floating.
Soften your gaze and just tune in to what your body feels like now. Does it feel easy or slightly awkward?
Take a moment to observe yourself in what may feel like a new stance. Like with a new stroke or grip, give yourself the time and practice for your body to process and integrate this new information of your Neutral Posture and you will reap the many benefits!
If you are interested in improving your posture and improving your tennis game, contact Bonnie for a free consultation.