By Melinda Glenister
I was recently asked to contribute to an article for Tennis Australia Magazine about the future of training and Feldenkrais.
Here was my response……
Q. Why should professional tennis players consider studying/practicing Feldenkrais? I mean, what could Feldenkrais help with specifically?
A. Feldenkrais specifically taps into the brain’s innate plasticity- that is the brain’s ability to change itself, to make new connections and grow. It improves a players self-awareness, both giving practical tools that a player can use to begin to become aware of themselves as they move, and by increasing their sensitivity so that finer and finer distinctions can be made. In short it improves a players ability and capacity to learn. Where there is learning improvements can be made to technique, efficiency, even regulation of mood states. It’s not enough just to make changes, habitual patterns come back. What is needed is an understanding of how to integrate changes so they can become a part of you and something that can be used on the court. By learning to slow down and listen to themselves players can find finer and finer margins of improvement in speed, agility, flexibility, recovery, efficiency. The list goes on and on, because it is ultimately a learning method. Once you learn how to learn, you can improve anything.
Q. Tennis is becoming increasingly faster and also, players are getting injured at a higher rate than ever before. What would you suggest to help them for the future?
A. Increasingly players are being pushed to and beyond their limits, and it is my belief that it cannot continue this way. What we see instead is more and more players breaking down. I believe that there is a huge for potential for players to incorporate Feldenkrais into their training and recovery programs. I believe the future of elite sport will be a big swing towards improving kinesthetic awareness with Feldenkrais based training. Players need to learn to listen to their own bodies- so they know where their limits are so they can manage themselves before they reach the point of burn out or breaking down. The fact is that improvement (in agility flexibility, speed) is made faster by using awareness to improve the organisation of the body, than it is by pushing through harder and overtraining. The smart players and coaches will realise this and will see there are hidden potentials they never thought possible.