Enjoying this Jamaican Prescription in Nevis


Glen Mills is the head coach at Racers Track Club in Kingston, Jamaica.  He does not own one medal, yet his coaching abilities have made a significant mark in track and field.  His proteges have won a total of 71 medals at the IAAF World Championships and another 33 medals at Olympic competitions. Nineteen of these medals were won by Usain Bolt, the fastest man in history.  Bolt praises his coach with enthusiasm every chance he gets.

Mr. Mills taught Bolt a technique that made him the fastest man of all time. He knew this tall, lanky Jamaican had potential, but he also noticed how poor Bolt’s sprinting mechanics were. “His poor mechanics stood out like a sore thumb.” How did he fix it?

Mills and Bolt implemented “The Law of Reversed Effort.” The more effort you put in, the less reward you get. We see this play out with Bolt’s mechanics.  One reason Bolt struggled was because he tried too hard. He gave his all, thinking it would lead to the best times. In reality, it backfired, and his muscles tensed. Glen Mills got Bolt to “Relax.”

Relaxation has health benefits as well

When someone is over-stressed, it can lead to excessive cortisol levels.  The symptoms may include high blood pressure, weight gain, and extended bellies.  This becomes more evident when someone looks healthy except for an extended belly.  Some may refer to these as “stress bellies.”

How does stress or tension hamper performance? Mentally, people become anxious and allow negative thoughts to hurt their performance.  When sprinters tense up, they:

  • Lose range of motion
  • Disrupt the fluid motion
  • Run slower times.

My brother went farther in track and field than myself, earning all ACC honors in the 400-meter hurdles.  I remember that I always ran best when I was as limber as possible before the race, focused on relaxing my upper body, extending my stride, and having as little ground contact time as possible.  A relaxed posture is best all throughout the sprinting motion except for when the feet are pushing off the ground.

Bud Winter, a sprinting coach who trained 27 Olympians to break 37 world records, was the first to discover this phenomenon in sprinters.  He wrote a book called ‘Relax and Win’.  In it, he describes how sprinters should only use 90% effort when sprinting.  Why?

The additional 10% effort caused unnecessary muscles to fire, slowing the sprinter down. We see the power of the 90% rule when Usain Bolt ran in Beijing:

In Beijing, Usain Bolt ran a 9.69 second 100-meter dash.  He beat this record soon thereafter when he ran a 9.58.  In both races, his time from the 70-meter mark to the 90-meter marks is nearly identical.  In the first race, Bolt started celebrating around the 70-meter mark, yet his time was just as fast from this point to the 90-meter mark.

We see the same thing happen in other sports.  Many overthink their swing in golf and may swing too hard to hit the ball well.  In sales, many may try too hard and come across as needy, or worse, become overly pushy.  In managing a team, many may try too hard as well.  When assessing your results or those of someone else, consider the level of effort.  If the effort is there, it may be that they are trying too hard.  Mental work effort defeats itself.  Many times, the answer may be “don’t try as hard” or focus on 90% effort.  Many experts will say, the more you wish to develop a new pattern of thought and relax, the faster the thought is accepted by the subconscious mind.

We have all experienced the state of mind and physiology when we were “in the zone.”  Think about how relaxed you were, how your actions felt, and your state of mind when you were at your best.  Visualize yourself achieving this again and work to put your body and mind in that state again.

All the elite athletes and top performers do this. They look relaxed, smooth, and fluid. This allows them to play and perform at their highest potential.

The Law of Reversed Effort teaches us that less effort can mean more reward. So, remember, instead of trying so hard… Relax. You might find that it helps you perform better.

Joe Franklin has been named by Forbes as one of Tennessee’s Top Advisors!

Franklin Wealth Management

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