Improve Your Sports Performance With Alexander Technique

In an interview with Robert Rickover, Alexander teacher Adam Bailey says: “Alexander helps athletes not overdo.”

“Growing up, I always did sports… As a child, sports were fun and easy. As I got older for reasons I couldn’t figure out, the sports began to get more difficult. There were even days when sports were a struggle. I didn’t know what that was until I discovered the Alexander Technique, which showed me that I was putting more effort into the sports than I needed to.”

“As a young child, I was only putting in the necessary effort. Little by little, as I got older, and coaches told me to try harder and to put more into it, I started trying harder and putting more effort in and that was the problem. My muscles were more tense than they needed to be and my performance suffered.”

Robert: “The instruction to try harder can have a negative influence on the outcome. A better instruction would be to try something different.”

Adam: “Try doing less so you can carry out the sport more easily.”

“I try to convince my students to think less about winning and more on how you approach the sport. Are there places where you are getting tense? And if so, can you subtract in those areas?

“As children, we had this natural alignment of our head, neck and spine. Because of tension that has built up, we’ve interfered with our alignment. So we focus on rediscovering that natural alignment.

“When my students pursue that two-track approach — less tension and better alignment — they start doing better.”

Robert: “You’re asking them to focus on the process rather than getting in a certain number of miles or laps.”

“In general, the emphasis in fitness regimes of any kind is quantity not quality. Faster. More. Longer workouts. There’s often little attention paid to how the athlete does what he is doing.”

Adam: “When we focus on the process rather than the goal, it doesn’t mean that we give up the goal or we give up the certain number of laps we’ve always done. It just means that while we’re doing it, we’re thinking about our approach and how tense we’re getting and how well we’re staying aligned.

“If we think about the process, the goal starts coming by itself.”

Robert: “It might not be easy to work directly on someone’s fear but to instead notice the muscular tension that is associated with the fear and releasing that tension and getting at the fear indirectly.”

Adam: “Telling someone not to be so fearful or approaching their fear directly or telling them to relax, those things in my experience don’t work. Pursuing the indirect method of the Alexander Technique and changing their physical state will affect their emotions.”

Alexander Technique teaches the athlete how to use themselves optimally while carrying out the sport.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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