Sports Gestures

Each player in a sports discipline has to teach his or her body how to perform a particular movement. You can’t just pick up a bat, swing it and expect to hit a ball. The same applies to a golf club or a tennis racket. There is a sports choreography involved; you have to get your body to memorize a certain position so you can repeat it. You need body memory.

Many sports champions turn to dance, especially ballet, to learn how to build strength and at the same time develop body memory. The football player who kicks the ball, has learned to do a “grand battement,” (a big kick). Olympic champion skaters study ballet and jumping off the ice; I know this first hand, as I was often in class with them.

Think of how we describe Michael Jordan, poetry in motion, fluid, he makes it all seem so easy, like a dancer. The same was said about the great baseball player, Joe DiMaggio, His movements seemed effortless. He was gracious and graceful. And who could forget “the greatest,” Muhammed Ali, who could, “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.” But their grace alone wasn’t all there was to their success, they were able to REPEAT that success, year after year. I expected Michael Jordan to make the point. I was more interested in watching how he did it; his body memory was something to behold.

That body memory is the essence of sports gesture. I’ll bet you know what these sports gestures are in spite of the fact that you can’t see a uniform or any sports equipment. Click for the PDF Version of this page which you can print. Write the name of the sport under the figure.