Mindfulness in Sports and Athletics
Getting into the present
In order for athletes to perform at their highest level they must do so without the tension or fear that arises when they think about the outcome of their performance. Tension prevents optimal performance in the key activities of sports including, but not limited to, running, swinging, throwing, shooting, swimming, kicking, and jumping.
Mindfulness is one extremely beneficial tool for achieving a state of clarity and calm because mindfulness is awareness of the present moment without judgment. The “judgmental” or “outcome” aspect of sports can often impair performance. On their own, most athletes cannot simply block out their negative thoughts regarding outcome. For example, many golfers can have a difficult time making relatively easy short putts when the tournament or match is on the line. Why? They are thinking about the importance of the putt and it prevents them from executing the stroke in a tension free manner. However, they can train and learn skillful responses to be in the present moment to make the putt, and block out the relative importance. Golfers, and other athletes, must purposefully train their minds to achieve this state of calmness to achieve the greatest opportunity to perform at peak levels. Mindful Impact training will teach athletes how to stay in the present.
Mindfulness returns you to the present improving concentration and focus.
Increasing Ability to Deal with Stress
Mindfulness and meditation have been proven to change the brain in positive ways to reduce daily stress and anxiety. First, stress will inhibit the ability to train and learn at practice. Calmer athletes are less concerned about daily success and more receptive to learning new skills or improving in the long term. The daily stress of high-level athletics can also make it difficult to relax enough to study or sleep. We teach very specific mindfulness exercises to improve relaxation and the ability to fall sleep. Also, well-rested athletes tend to remain healthy. Second, the competitive environment within a team can cause major tension between athletes and coaches. Personal emotions can prevent the team from staying positive and pursuing team goals.
Mindfulness practice can help improve daily team communications and interactions.
Increasing and Improving Attention Span
Consistent mindfulness training and practice can improve attention span. Athletes need to be able to focus during daily practice sessions and over sustained periods of time to learn and apply their new skills. Mindfulness improves overall cognitive functioning in both learning and memory. This helps athletes to learn their new skills, and aids student athletes to focus on their studies. Athletes who can achieve high levels of mental focus will see their overall performances continue to improve as they reach the limits of their physical abilities.
Mindfulness can help athletes reach their overall physical and mental potential.