Balls to the Wall, Man

Ever heard the phrase, “Balls to the Wall?”

It always kinda confused me.

You’re out on the field or on the court, and some guy’s yelling, “Balls to the Wall!”

I never knew what the hell it meant.

And I guess if I gave it any serious thought, it would have brought up some pretty weird images.

But today, I finally figured out where it comes from.

Turns out, it’s a phrase from aviation. (That’s right, folks–it doesn’t have anything to do with…well, never mind….)

When a pilot is accelerating as fast as possible, he pushes the throttle all the way to the panel. And the lever of the throttle is in the shape of a ball.

Hence, balls to the wall.

Now, granted, there may be other explanations. A phrase like that always has a lot of stories around it.

But this is the only explanation I’ve ever heard that makes sense.

And it makes me love it.

It evokes that exhilarating feeling of going at full speed. But it also shows that there’s a limit, a “wall” to how fast you can accelerate.

That’s essential when it comes to any kind of training. If you go too far to fast, you can burn out or get injured.

Same with NRW: if you release too much primal power too fast, you can fry your nervous system.

​Not fun.

But if you hang back, your progress is slow, and you never hit your full potential.

Also not fun.

You gotta find that sweet spot. The place where you’re accelerating as fast as possible.

You gotta go balls to the wall.

The beautiful thing about most practices, though, (NRW included) is the more you do, the more you can do.

You don’t just push the throttle to the wall. You push the wall back, too.

In the context of NRW, that means:

The more deep tension you release, the more energy you can handle surging through your nervous system.

The more energy surging through you, the faster those tensions dissolve.

So on, and so on.

Your progress is exponential.

The curve goes up, up, up, until you’re just sailin


You gotta start somewhere.

The journey of a thousand steps, and all that.

So. When you’re ready to take that first step…

Balls to the wall, man:

Tension Blaster Workout Series

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What Is NRW?

Whatever your sport or skill level, Neuromuscular Release Work (NRW) can improve your game and life dramatically by blasting your tensions and releasing the primal energies within. If you're looking to improve your mental toughness, competition readiness, focus, motivation, and turn your nerves into confidence, NRW can help.


Riley Holland

8954 N Portsmouth Ave.

Portland, OR 97203-5976

Who Is Riley Holland?

footerRiley Holland is the world’s leading expert in Neuromuscular Release Work (NRW), and is recognized as an authority on the mental game by athletes and sports psychologists alike. He has studied a wide variety of methods, both ancient and modern, for relieving stress and tension and increasing mental toughness. Now he coaches and teaches NRW, which he has found to be the ultimate method of mental training. Read More...