Your body can lie to you
While it’s important for athletes to listen to their bodies to receive feedback on how they’re doing, it’s also possible for your body to lie to you. Specifically I’m talking about what “feels” strong and powerful versus what is strong and powerful.
Young pitchers and hitters are especially prone to this paradox. They will tense up their muscles when they go to throw or swing the bat because it feels strong. Their muscles are working hard, so they must be generating a lot of power, right?
Actually, that’s wrong. Tense or tight muscles are slow muscles, and slow muscles reduce the amount of power you can generate. Instead, you want to keep your muscles loose and relaxed so they can fire quickly and accelerate through the critical zone.
Don’t believe it? Try this.
Hold your hand up in front of your face, tense up your wrist muscles, then try to fan yourself using only the wrist muscles to move the hand as fast as you can. You won’t get much air, and if you do it long enough it will probably start to hurt.
Now relax the wrist muscles and use your forearm to make your hand move. You’ll feel a distinct breeze because your hand is moving much faster. That’s the power of loose muscles.
Another great benefit, as you may have already seen, is that loose muscles don’t tire as easily as tight ones. Loose muscles also help you keep your head from getting in the way, because the more relaxed you are the more confident you’ll feel — and the more likely you are to find a groove that makes a good motion repeatable.
The only caution is don’t equate loose with slow. You still want to be quick in your approach, attacking a pitch or swing with the intent to give it all you’ve got. Once you find the way to do both you’ll be well on your way to reaching your potential.
So while you want to listen to your body when it comes to things like pain and overuse, remember it can also lie to you. Take Frankie’s advice and relax. You’ll do much better.