I was thinking about body language the other day and this memory from my days on the Professional Women’s Tennis Tour walked through my mind:

During a tournament, when it was your turn to play, the tournament director or one of their staff would call out both your name and your opponent’s name. They would then hand you a new can of tennis balls and tell you what specific court to play your match on.

Many people would think that the match starts with the first serve, but in actuality, for me, the match started the minute I was handed the tennis balls and was walking with my opponent to the court. You see, I would observe so many subtleties - like when I was introduced to my opponent, did they look me in the eye? Also, what was their facial expression? Did they smile, scowl, or ignore me?

I would also look at how they held their bodies as they walked to the court. When my opponents would give off a positive, powerful vibe this was a sign to me that they felt good about themselves, confident about their game and expected to win. That meant I was in for a tough match.

However, there were the opponents who gave off a negative vibe, slouching and scowling. Coincidently, these were the same players who were the rebellious ones; the hot heads; the sore losers. Players like this more often than not self-sabotaged.

Then there were the players who kept their head down, and walked real slow - as if they were fearful of the outcome. Perhaps because they did not feel confident in their game, or did not feel prepared and ready to play. Naturally, I felt I had a slight edge against people with this type of demeanor.

Whether you are aware of it or not, people are sizing you up both consciously and subconsciously all the time. Body language not only represents how you present yourself to the world, but more importantly, it can reveal to others your emotional state, your sensitivities, and your physical and mental weaknesses.

The body language we portray to others is usually a direct result of what we think of ourselves.

So what you think of yourself is actually mirrored back to you. If you project confidence, people will see you as powerful. If you look relaxed and attentive, people will see you as balanced, receptive, and friendly. If you show respect to yourself, as well as to others, people will see you as important and mirror that respect back to you.

In essence the impression we give to others not only governs how they treat us, but also has a direct effect on how we are going to perform.

Here are three ways to measure your own body language and determine if you have what it takes to create what you want to achieve.

1.Study your posture

If you want to see good posture, study the body alignment of top professional athletes. Their body is erect, their head is up, and their walk is not anxious and controlled. They are in control, both physically and mentally.

Their body language is not turning away from you or rocking back; it is open, and still exuding professionalism and confidence. This is a person who does not anticipate failure.

On the other hand, when I was watching the ice skating competition during the Winter Olympics, I knew who would challenge for the gold the moment the skaters came on the ice. In essence, a picture was worth a thousand words. The way they controlled themselves or did not control themselves gave the viewer a glimpse of how well they were going to perform.

Even without hearing the commentator’s predictions of who was expected to do well, you could just tell which skaters were the ones who were in contention for the gold medal, as opposed to some of the other skaters who looked defeated before the competition even started. Try it next time you watch a big sporting event.

2.Are you relaxed?

Is your body stiff? Do you cast your eyes down and not look people in the eye? Is your jaw clenched, and are your shoulders raised? Do you move your body in a jerky and mechanical way?

Being relaxed usually goes hand-in-hand with being focused. Your body and mind are working together as one powerful force. Do you give the impression that you are ready and prepared?

People who are relaxed are better able to focus and stay in the present moment. Also, their calm manner seems to magically dissolve tension in others. People trust people who are relaxed and comfortable in their own skin. It shows they are ready and prepared mentally, physically, and emotionally.

In addition, relaxed people usually breathe slower and deeper. They are also more likely to smile, because they are enjoying what they do. These are the players and people who are good in the clutch. When the going gets tough they do not let their emotions get out of control. Through practice they have learned to harness their emotions and are, therefore, more willing to take chances. Their relaxed, deep, purposeful concentration allows them to block out extraneous noises or negative circumstances around them.

Relaxed people are usually good listeners, and enjoy interaction. When people are not relaxed, it clearly shows. Their fidgety body language, hard and fast breathing, darting eyes, and restless or jerky body movements give them away. You will develop and refine your ability to relax the more you practice it, especially in stressful and high pressure situations.

3.Do you show respect to others?

When you respect yourself, as well as others, people will likewise treat you with respect.

Respect is a very revealing quality. People who respect themselves usually enjoy expressing themselves. They do not live up to anyone else’s standard, because they set their own. Respect radiates poise, calm, and confidence. The most influential people I can think of have always embodied this trait, and have always commanded it in return.

By being more aware of your behavior and body language you will not only send a positive message to others that you are someone to be taken seriously, but more importantly, you will think, feel, and perform like a champion.

Author's Bio: 

Nancy Koran, is the author of The Zen of Tennis: A Winning Way of Life, and The Victory Dance. After playing on the women's professional tennis circuit, Nancy decided her destiny was to help others learn and enjoy the sport. Nancy's true passion is teaching, both the fundamentals of the game and the optimal thinking techniques that make such a difference on and off the court or any playing field. Nancy Koran has become both a sought-after Professional Tennis Registry (PTR) certified tennis instructor and motivational speaker. For more information please visit her website: