Stand Tall to Play Big

*NEW* #TeamEverlast Contributor: Greg Chertok

Greg Chertok, M.Ed., CC-AASP, founder of New York based Chertok Performance Consulting is the newest contributor to #TeamEverlast. Greg has nearly a decade of experience and specializes in sport and exercise psychology. His experience working with athletes and coaches ranges from youth to professionals with a list of clients that include high performance athletes,  high school & NCAA champions, Super Bowl champions, Stanley Cup participants, and Olympic athletes. Greg will bring his vast knowledge and expertise on training and competition to our #TeamEverlast readers.

Check out Greg’s latest installment below!


Stand Tall to Play Big

In all likelihood, you were at some point during your childhood commanded by your parents to “stand up straight” and “not slouch.”  You probably obliged, though you may never have understood the reasoning behind their demand.  Well, there may be something to it.

According to research, “posture expansiveness,” or positioning oneself in a way that opens up the body and takes up space, activates a sense of power that produces behavioral changes in a person independent of their actual rank or hierarchical role in an organization or team.  That is, it’s irrelevant if the person is CEO or mailboy, team captain or third string quarterback.   In other words, adopting an open body posture – shoulders back, standing tall, chest out, chin up – plays an important role in determining if people act as though they are in charge, regardless of whether they actually are! To test this theory, various experiments such as a verbal recall task, word completion exercise and blackjack game were conducted with participants in a study several years ago from Northwestern University.  Those with open body posture thought about more power-related words and generally took more action than those with closed body postures in each experiment.  Strong, powerful posture, it was concluded, had a strong effect in making a person think and act in a more powerful way.

Significant findings, undoubtedly.  Think about the transferability of this for you as an athlete or exerciser.

First, envision your typical response to such experiences as physical fatigue, on-field mistakes, performance distractions, even altercations with family and friends.  Does your reaction to these challenges – specifically, the manner in which you carry yourself physically – help or hurt your subsequent performance?

For an athlete preparing for an event, standing tall and assuming powerful body language on the field and in the weight room will help in a number of areas.  There are, for instance, anatomical benefits.  Open posture assists in reducing stress and strain on your spine and improving muscle tone, especially the core, back and neck.  It also opens the diaphragm, allowing increased oxygen into the system and better breathing techniques which improve circulation.

Then there’s the confidence boost – stemming from more powerful thoughts and more decisiveness – that comes with a strong, open posture.  Not only that, but your strengthened posture may change others’ perceptions of you as well.  Teammates may be positively influenced (and opponents negatively so) as a result of your projection of confidence.

A professional hockey player with whom I recently worked was lamenting over the fact that his demeanor would, without his initially realizing it, immediately turn negative and ‘drooping’ in the face of a foolish penalty or a weak shift.  He identified that his weakened posture affected his between-shift attitude, which set him up for another poor shift, or another foolish penalty.

While a certain posture won’t guarantee success, the “right” posture will yield physical benefits as well as more dominant thoughts and behaviors, thereby putting you in a great position for success.  So why wouldn’t we “stand up straight” and “not slouch” all the time??

Former MLB pitcher Jamie Moyer put out an autobiography titled “Just Tell Me I Can’t,” in which he describes how he was able to enjoy such success as a pitcher whose stuff was not nearly as powerful as most other guys in the league.  Here’s an excerpt from his book on the “pitcher’s posture,” and what it can communicate:

The posture that you never want to show, for me, is to throw a pitch and your body gets a little droopy … your body kind of crumbles, and you catch the ball and you snap at the ball, you’re glaring at the umpire, you’re “whining” to the umpire, and that’s very visible from 60 feet away. The hitter sees that, your teammates see that, the fans see that, the broadcasters see that, everybody sees that. To me, you want to show absolutely nothing. You want to have strong eyes, you want to be staring at your target, and you’re really showing no emotion, you want show that “I’m in control here.” You want to get the ball back; you want to create a good tempo between pitches.

Think about specific instances in your life in which you easily get “off track” or off your game.  The solution may start with your posture.

Greg Chertok
About the Author:

Greg Chertok. Greg Chertok, M.Ed, is the founder of New York based Chertok Performance Consulting. Greg specializes in sport and exercise psychology with experience working with athletes and coaches ranging from youth to professionals. Greg’s list of clients includes high performance athletes, high school & NCAA champions, Super Bowl champions, Stanley Cup participants, and Olympic athletes. His expertise and knowledge is evident through his contributions to various publications including the Wall Street Journal, CBS News, Runner’s World Magazine, Women’s health magazine, and the Chicago Tribune, among many others. Greg has also been featured as a sports psychology expert on multiple radio shows, including National Public Radio (NPR), SiriusXM’s “Doctor Radio”, Healthradio’s “Sports Medicine & Fitness Show”, CaptainU radio, and Voice America’s “Enter the League”. ”. Greg is a Certified Consultant through the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) as well as a Personal Fitness Trainer.