clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Fetal Position: A How To

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

A lot of my younger Cal friends come to me and they say "Twist, I know you were bred in the fiery pits of the Holmoecaust.  I was so disappointed in 2008 when we only won 9 games that season.  I heard you only won 8 games your first 3 seasons as a Cal fan and 4 of those wins were vacated due to illegal violations.  How did you handle that??"

"Yes, it's true," I often respond.  "Even when we cheated, we sucked.  That's how bad Holmoe was, he sucked at cheating.  But there was one key thing that helped me get through those dark, dark days.  Internet pornography.  But also the fetal position."

See, the fetal position is a time honored way of weathering nearly any storm.  And, unfortunately, in recent times, it has grown into disuse due to something called (and I might be mispronouncing this here) "success." 

But don't worry, guys.  I know that you are upset right now after the unfortunate loss to USC the other day.  I know your problem is that you care about winning.  That's the difference between new Cal fans and old Cal fans.  If we cared about winning, we would have shot ourselves at least 12 times over by now.  And you don't understand how to express that upset in the proper way.  You haven't been taught the required technical expertise of the fetal position.  And I get that.  That's why I'm here.  To give some helpful pointers, some tips on this classic Cal position.

First, let's start with the overaching theme here.  For those new to this (and I have no sympathy for those people), let's look at the Wiki definition of the fetal position:

Fetal position (British English: foetal) is a medical term used to describe the positioning of the body of a prenatal fetus as it develops. In this position, the back is curved, the head is bowed, and the limbs are bent and drawn up to the torso.

Sometimes, when a person has suffered extreme physical or psychological trauma (including massive stress), they will assume the fetal position.  This was also surprisingly common in certain parts of the San Francisco Bay Area from 1997-2001.  Historians continue to learn more about this little-remembered hellscape, but currently, the most popular hypothesis is that it's popularity related to some sort of local religious belief about an unending haunting by some demon called a "Holmoe."  Thankfully, little is remembered of this "Holmoe" at this time.  This position provides better protection to the brain, so it is obvious as to why it is an instinctual reaction to extreme stress or trauma when the brain is no longer able to cope with the surrounding environment, and in essence "shuts down" temporarily.

I think some photos of people in the fetal position trying to escape their unending pain would be helpful here:







Ok, so now that we have a stronger idea of what we are looking at here.  It's important to look at the initial steps of preparation.  Because you don't want to just right quick get into it without proper stretching.  You could easily pull a hammy and be out of commission for 4-6 losses.  

The key stretch is clearly the hips.  See, in the fetal position, you are bent forward into a rounded shape.  You need flexible hips to bring your body together.  That's the most overlooked body part when it comes to proper fetal position technique.  Most people look at keeping the neck loose and I respect that.  Many people stretch out their back to ensure its well-rounded shape and that's chill, too.  I mean fuck those people, but that's chill.  But the fetal position is surprisingly like Salsa Dancing.  It's all in the hips.

Here is an easy hip stretch:


"Ok, looks like it's 2nd and 10 on the USC 25 with 12 seconds left in the half, better start loosening up!" via

What stretches do you use before entering the fetal position?

So, make sure to warm up with proper stretching technique, in specific, focusing on the hips.  Then, you are ready to assume the correct position.  The next question is what do you do with your hands?  Some people like to wrap them around their knees or feet.  Others like to cup their face with them, to help better shield their eyes from this cruel, cruel world.

That's not me.  I like to flail my arms wildly during the whole process.  Gets the juices flowing, yknow?  Personally, I'm inspired by  those Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Men.


"Twist prepares to watch a Cal player make a tackle" via

Watching them flail their arms like that gives me the emotional strength to avoid complete mental break down.  So, I try to emulate their never ending flailing. 

It's kinda like it's ALWAYS third down when they are around.  And dammit, we're gonna stop that other team!

What do you do with your arms and hands during the fetal position?

That's the basic aspect there.  Stretch out the hips.  Loosen up the rest of the body.  Start waving those arms.  Collapse down in tears.

But there are some advanced techniques, not for the faint of heart.  For example, once many people have mastered the basic position, they try to add "rocking back and forth" in there.  But there are many problems in there.  Do you rock slowly?  Do you rock quickly?  I've seen some real rookie mistakes out there where some people start rocking very violently back and forth.  You can really give yourself a headache that way.  Or you can even smack your head against your knee and cause injury there.  Look, this is not child's play people.  You are trying to decrease the amount of sucktitude, not add to it!

So, what I do what I like to do is start out slow, work yourself up into a solid rhythm.  Don't strain your neck, don't go too fast.  The fetal position is surprisingly not at all like Salsa Dancing.  It  isn't about speed, it's about avoiding emotional devastation.  But that's just what I do.

What, if anything, is your "rocking back and forth in the fetal position" style?

Of course, there is a lot more about the avant garde fetal positions out there.  Laying flat on your stomach.  On all fours.  Throwing a football to a wide open backup running back on the sideline.  Honestly, I don't traffic in these travesties and I hope to never see any of you guys doing them.  They don't work, people!

Speaking of things that don't work, I know there are a lot of people out there that peddle various performance enhancing drugs for the fetal position. Rock back and forth faster, they say!  They'll help you curl up tighter, they proclaim to the world!  Be safe!  STAY OFF THE JUICE!  Firstly, Cal fans drug test.  They do.  It's just what we do.  We love to randomly demand people pee into a cup for drug testing purposes.  We try to keep it a secret from all the other Pac10 fans out there, but there's a reason why we eschew normal society to go to Berkeley.  And a shared love for randomlikefuck drug testing is one of those reasons.  If we didn't love random drug testing, we'd go to USC.  They NEVER do that there!

Secondly, these drugs don't do anything.  Plus, some give you really big muscles.  Big  muscles just get in the way of the fetal position!  They make it impossible to flail your arms, to wrap up tighter, it's useless!  Plus, there's another thing that steroids can affect:


cough cough via

I plead with you to not do performance enhancing drugs when it comes to your fetal positions.

Hopefully with some of these tips, you can weather these two weeks better.  And then the next 8 weeks after that.  And then the long, brutal off-season.  And then the seasons 2010-2012 until the Mayans come back to life and kill us all (thanks a lot, John Cusak!!). 

I think I'll leave you with a kwote from an inspirational hero in my life.  I believe it was the great Mahatma Ghandi, who once said "Motherfuck USC."  And look, I don't know a lot about this Ghandi gentleman, but I figure there's gotta be a reason he's an international phenomenon.  Probably due to his sage advice on USC.


"Why didn't anybody tell me about Pete Carroll before I took that vow of non-violence!" via