Tai Chi for Athletes
Training the connection between functional breathing, quiet mind and effortless movement.
Tai Chi is the ideal complementary practice to an athletes' routine. Training for "peace of mind" helps the athletes remain focused, stable and grounded under external pressure. A regular practice helps:
improves body awareness
creates more appropriate postural habits
reduces unnecessary tension and improves movement patterns (biomechanics efficiency)
contributes to a more peaceful, focused and centred state of mind
develops a sense of grounding, stability and balance
contributes to the prevention of sport related injuries
In summary, a regular Tai Chi practice improves the athlete's physical capabilities and athletic performance.
The power of slowing it down
Allow inner stillness to become the foundation of your movement.
From a biomechanics Western perspective, successful athletic performance develops from body awareness, mobility, stability and motor control. Eastern wisdom stipulates that "stillness" is key to motion, since inner stillness is the master of movement.
What is inner stillness and why is it so important to all martial arts?
Stillness does not mean emptiness, for stillness carries within, the seed of intention. In the same way thoughts are at the origin of our voluntary actions, intention is a sort of energy that precedes and pre-shapes our movements. Intention contributes to a more thoughtful, mindful and purposeful foundation, where efficient movements can develop and unwind.
Because of the interrelated nature of our body-mind units, training inner stillness has countless positive psycho-emotional and physiological implications. It helps the athletes build more efficient kinetic chains, enhancing their physical capabilities e.g. speed, strength, power, precision and balance.
I am aware that younger generations have the impression that Tai Chi is way-too-slow or meagre. However,
See Matt Leve, PT, MSPT, GCFP, physical therapist and Tai Chi instructor at Shift Integrative Medicine. Read
In past decades, some professional athletes have included Tai Chi and other Martial arts in their regular physical training routines. Jayne Storey mentions on "Understanding what separates Woods from the rest of the world’s elite players and how you can develop a similar performance practice" Read that Tiger Woods practised Tai Chi as a young man and used it as part of his golf practice. Storey continues:
Whether you are a professional athlete, a dedicated amateur or an enthusiastic weekend warrior, a regular Tai Chi practice will help refine the way you position and move. You are welcome to start or continue your Tai Chi journey by following our Foundations I and II routines. You may also practice Our Tai Chi set. If you wish, you can follow a specific sport routine with the purpose of improving your athletic performance.
"Softness in tai chi does not imply a loss of structure or readiness. A common training error in tai chi is to be too relaxed. You don’t want to be limp like a noodle. This can be dangerous and lead to more stress on the tissues and joints rather than reducing that stress.”
"Tiger's ability to bring his attention within himself and to anchor it in his body and his breathing enabled his shots to simply flow."
Tai Chi Routines
for rotational sports
These 4 simple routines are a good example of how certain Tai Chi principles can be applied to improve any rotational sport practice, including the Golf Swing.
"By training the principles of body-alignment and movement...
you can move with even more grace, fluidity, and power.
Instead of wasting energy holding excess tension,
relaxation can lead the way to more powerful movement."
- Yang Cheng-fu