Rhythm

Tired AthleteGraceful action starts with rhythm. Every movement is like a measure of music with its own time signature. We see it in the flowing turns of an alpine racer and the quick catch and shoot on the basketball court.  It’s true for a team as well.  Phil Jackson wrote in his book Eleven Rings, The Soul of Success, ” I discovered early that the best way to get players to coordinate their actions was to get them to play the game in 4/4 time. The basic rule was that the player with the ball had to do something with it before the third beat; either pass shoot or start to dribble. When everyone is keeping time it makes it easier to harmonize with one another beat by beat.”

It’s frustrating as an athlete when you can’t find your rhythm, when it’s disrupted by an opponent or lost in a change of tempo or terrain. Rhythm focuses energy. When the rhythm is gone every movement becomes a separate impulse, a constant effort to overcome inertia.  Without the momentum that rhythm provides, powerful, fluid movements become mechanical and awkward and exhausting.  Play becomes hard work.

The great thing is we have the ability to turn it around, to find our rhythm and regain our momentum. We might have to slow it down, maybe even pause ( musicians don’t play on every beat ) then pay attention and listen until we can hear the rhythm and feel the beat again. It’s easier to get back in the game when we remember that grace and power haven’t left us. They’re just waiting for us to find our rhythm.

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