FOOTBALL and the Sympathetic Nervous System

There are times in life when a father wants his son to follow in their footsteps in some type of way. Whether it be musically, spiritually, or physically, there comes a point where that father introduces that son to something in hopes that the son will stay with it and “carry-on the banner”. With me, this hand-me-down activity was Football. I started in the pee wee league and it was all fun and games. The pace wasn’t too fast and nobody was trying to take your head off. I was always a smaller guy but it really didn’t matter in pee wees and midget leagues.

I tried to give up football after my 9th grade year to pursue a much safer and alternate lifestyle playing drums in the Marching Band. I wanted to do this because I felt like I didn’t want to get hit anymore and the competition would sky rocket if I would go play varsity football. Long story short, The Varsity coach ended up persuading me to come out for the football team and claimed that he could use some young receivers. Great, another year of football.

My 10th grade year we were in training camp and it was time to Start Hitting! Compared to the juniors and seniors, I was small. We were in a drill and the coaches basically used us, the “young receivers,” as hitting dummies. The older guys knew that they would be targeting us in this drill so they took it easy. The coaches noticed this and yelled at the older guys to really HIT us HARD and tackle us. The coaches also encouraged us to not give in too easy. So me being a smaller guy and not liking the hitting aspect of football so much, started to get scared, sweat and get butterflies but then a different feeling took over. It was my turn in this Angle Tackle drill and the defender was the Best Player we had on our team. It was do or die time. So They pass me the ball and he is coming at me on an angle while I trot towards a cone. Adrenaline was pumping through my body. My heart is beating hard and fast. Eyes were wide open with my jaw clenching my mouthpiece really tight. My Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) is the thing that had me feeling this way. As we approached the point of supposed impact he was really low to the ground. I don’t know where it came from but I literally took flight. I leaped in the air and hurdled cleanly over the best player on the team. I believe that my eyes saw that he was about to take my legs out. And as a VERY quick reaction that was almost reflex like, my legs got out the way via me jumping. I never thought that hey, I’m going to jump over the best player on the team. It was just the Fight or Flight mode kicking in. I did anything to survive. I stayed in this Fight or Flight mode for 3 minutes making 2 more older guys miss. If we were in the same situation, I do not believe I could do it again especially if the SNS didn’t work the way it did. The strength, timing, and quickness, that I needed only came about from the SNS communicating to my muscles and firing off my motor neurons. In 3 years of Varsity football this sensation has never reoccurred.

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