Steph Curry will face Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors on Thursday to compete for what could be his third straight NBA championship.
Curry, the team’s star player with Kevin Durant out, will likely be asked to make some clutch shots when the game gets close. With just 48 minutes in each basketball game, Curry doesn’t have much time to calm down in high-pressure situations.
That’s why, when he gets nervous, Curry purposely tenses all the muscles in his body for a few moments before releasing them. The practice helps slow the guard’s heartbeat and allows him to think more clearly, he said in a recent interview with ESPN.
“I think your body thinks, ‘Well, this is as stressed as your body can be,'” Curry told ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan. “So when you let all that go, maybe that’s how the endorphins kick in.”
Muscle exercises are a common way to handle anxiety and high-stress situations. When you get stressed out, your brain tenses the muscles in your body as a way to guard against injury and pain. Chronic stress, including stress caused by work, causes your muscles to tense for longer periods of time, which can in turn cause migraines and headaches, according to the American Psychological Association.
Progressive muscle relaxation, or purposely tensing your muscles and then releasing them, has been shown to have benefits in reducing anxiety.
Curry, a devotee of sensory deprivation and “neurocognitive” drills, isn’t the only successful person to have a go-to trick for stress relief. Facebook exec Sheryl Sandberg shuts her phone off, and Bill Gates reads for an hour every night before bed. Steve Kerr, Curry’s coach who has made his own iconic clutch shot as a player, even wrote “f— it” on his shoes to keep from overthinking in high-pressure situations.
Read the full story on ESPN.