The fruit and veg market trader’s hands are rough and mud-ingrained. But when it comes to handling a pile of peaches, his hands treat them with gentle care. Soft hands.

Sports commentators remark about a player’s soft hands. It doesn’t mean the player is forever treating his hands with moisture cream – though he may do, I suppose – but that when, with his strength and skill, he wields a racket or bat to hit the ball, his hands are relaxed enough to produce deft and delightful shots.

In the song, “Dem bones” we learn how the bones of the body are joined together. It’s based on a bit from Ezekiel in the Bible: “The bones began to join together. While I watched, the bones were covered with sinews and muscles, and then with skin…” Whole body connections.

The art of soft hands currently eludes the slip catchers in the England cricket team. Is it lack of concentration? Yes, the mind may well be elsewhere… Nerves? Yes, the more you fail, the more you think you might fail again. Physical tension? Yes, more than likely. You can’t have soft hands if your shoulders are tense. Try it! Relax your shoulders and the chances are your hands will relax too. And the opposite is true, because everything is connected.

England’s cricketers face the 4th test with India this week, and the US Open tennis gets underway in New York. Let’s hope that soft hands prevail to produce scintillating sport. And if you’re listening or viewing, maybe it’s time to relax those shoulders…

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