Body Language: Secret to Success?by Brandon Bennett on 02/29/20
Why does the eyeroll of your teenager bother you? Why does the moping of your tween get under your skin? When your young child throws a fit is there something deeper that bothers you other than misbehavior?
“Players don’t realize their body language is like a billboard showing their toughness level.”
—Ron Naclerio, winningest basketball coach in New York City (also known as the White Shadow.)
For me, the body language a child exhibits bothers me because it not only shows what they are thinking, but their emotional state for building a response. I want the student in the best emotional state to make a decision that gives them the best result. Your psychology is influenced by your physiology and vice versa. If they are eyerolling, the body language shows a thought pattern of disrespect and until they change their body pattern (language), they may not be able to change their thought pattern. Body patterns are easy to consciously change. Just getting up and moving is often a prescription for depression. It does not treat the thought patterns but it does immediately influence the chemicals produced by the body. It is often easier to change the body pattern than the thought pattern.
According to the Mayo Clinic website doing 30 minutes or more of exercise a day for three to five days a week may significantly improve depression or anxiety symptoms. But smaller amounts of physical activity — as little as 10 to 15 minutes at a time — may make a difference. It takes less time exercising to improve your mood when you do more-vigorous activities, such as running or bicycling. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression-and-exercise/art-20046495
This is powerful stuff. Once the chemistry of the body is changed it leads to improvement in mood. I think we can agree anecdotally that there are moods that lead us personally to success.
Body language is biologically wired into us. A study done by the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, discovered just how universal body language is in athletes. In this study, Olympic athletes and athletes who have been blind their whole lives were studied. The athletes in both groups demonstrated the same body language for victory/pride, defeat, and embarrassment. The blind athletes have not seen the body language and simply mimic it. This indicates it is hardwired into their bodies.
It’s human nature to stretch out your arms over your head and smile when you win.
It’s human nature to hang your head and drop your shoulders when you are defeated.
It’s human nature to cover your face when you are ashamed.
No matter what you feel, you have to fight human nature with your mind and decide to display confidence, instead of letting your feelings take control. When you control your mood, you can set up the conditions that better lead you to success.
We need to learn to control human nature by learning to control our body language as well as adding exercise to change our emotional state. Studies indicate that when you show confident posture (chest puffed up, head held high, shoulders back), the chemicals in your brain change by increases in testosterone levels and decreases in cortisol levels.
By carrying yourself confidently, you gain a significant performance advantage. Increased testosterone leads to higher confidence, better mood, and increased mental focus. Decreased cortisol means your stress and anxiety levels will go down. These chemical changes put you in a much better position to perform at your best.
So at Relentless Martial Arts in Tulsa, when we teach Martial Arts in class we work on postural changes to help students get to the right mental states. Seated attention uses all of the positions described to get a better performance advantage.
What would you give to help your child to be better able to control their mood and get into a state that leads to an advantage in performance in the classroom, on the playing field and in life?
Here are some action steps can you take as a parent to help your child get this performance advantage:
1. Teach body language.
It’s easy to point out bad body language, but first take the time to teach your child what good body language is, how to carry yourself, and what that looks like. Show them how a confident person stands, how a confident person walks and carries themselves. This works so much better than yelling at your child for slouching.
2. Praise good body language.
Praise what you want repeated. If a child is quick to recover from a mistake, praise them in front of someone. Make it a person they respect and it builds confidence.
3. Exemplify great body language.
Set the standard for what great body language looks like. Lead by example and your children will follow.
Maybe you don’t have the best body language yourself. Maybe you aren’t quite sure how to model it or what to model. We can help. We can try to be the models in class and give your kids the performance advantage they need to get to the next level.
P.S. This article was inspired by/ and parts were taken from a website called Basketball is Psychology. My wife, Lisa, read this and said, “This sounds just like what you talk about all the time.” I read the article and agreed. If you want to read the articles go to https://www.basketballispsychology.com/post/body-language-your-mental-toughness-billboard
I think many of their articles are applicable to parenting and martial arts and all of life. It is not about a round ball sport, it is about being better able to deal with life.
Guro Brandon Bennett