Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from an article by Sarah Lloyd ’17 published in Swimming World Magazine June 25, 2015. Amy Cuddy recently released a book called Presence in which she documents her research into how body language affects thoughts and actions. The book references how the Kenyon swimming and diving team used the research to its advantage.
When the Kenyon College Lords and Ladies swimming and diving team walked into the large theater in the athletic center for the first official team meeting in early September, they were greeted by head coach Jess Book ’01, standing in front of an enormous screen displaying a YouTube video of a TED Talk.
The 20-minute video by social psychologist Dr. Amy Cuddy was titled Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are and discussed the ways in which a person’s physical size and position affect their psychology, especially the action of power posing — or making one’s body larger in order to change one’s mindset and confidence level.
Book’s intention in showing the team this talk was to provide some food for thought in the beginning of the season. But the idea quickly became an integral part of the team’s culture.
Power posing became one of the favorite methods of support, encouragement and pre-race preparation for the Kenyon College Lords and Ladies during the 2014-2015 season. Swimmers behind the blocks would lock eyes with their teammates on the side of the pool and everyone, including the coaches on occasion, would throw their hands in the air and stand in an “X” shape.
“Power posing reinforces the idea that we want to be powerful, strong and confident,” says Book. “Those that drew the most benefit from it were those who typically felt the pressure from their own thoughts. Power posing not only gave them a physiological boost, but provided a tangible connection to the rest of the team — something outside of themselves.”Read the Original Post