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Posted 12/27/2022 in Category 1

How to Incorporate Mindfulness Into Your Sport

How to Incorporate Mindfulness Into Your Sport

The practice of meditation dates back thousands of years ago, and with it comes the topic of mindfulness. In recent years, meditation and mindfulness have found a place in sports. When we understand the benefits of meditation and mindfulness — such as reduced stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as reduced physical pain — it makes sense that athletes are incorporating the practice into their process. In this post, we'll look at some of the ways we can incorporate mindfulness into our sport:

Practice Yoga

Most sports require a particular set of skills and, most importantly, the utmost focus. Athletes are trained not only to concentrate on the tasks involved in their sport but to remain calm. Yoga, being equal parts physical and mental exercise, has become an excellent warmup for athletes to get in the right mindset. Even for sports as physically demanding as running. Indeed, yoga offers physical and mental benefits for sprinters. As running is a mental game, yoga helps sprinters counter negative thoughts and improve their focus against distractions. Practicing yoga, meditation, and breathwork techniques can alleviate anxiety and help you gain the confidence you need to stay centered. Simply practicing yoga at home for around 10 to 15 minutes can help increase endurance and reduce the risk of injury. As it is less physically demanding than conventional sports, yoga is ideal for before and after sports training.

Develop mental resilience

Aside from yoga, there are mental exercises to hone psychological skills that you can practice. We touched on this in our post about developing mental toughness, as well as the benefits of practicing goal-setting, self-talk, relaxation, and mental imagery. Keeping in mind the four "C"s — control, challenge, commitment, and confidence — is a great exercise to help visualize the progress you are making in your sport and training, as well as what needs to be changed or added to achieve the goals you want within your field. The world of sports can be competitive and harsh. Developing the mental resilience to keep improving and working towards your goals is a healthy psychological habit that can set you apart from your sports peers. Even when you encounter obstacles or failures in your sports journey, mental resilience will equip you with the right mindset to power through instead of giving up.

Try informal mindfulness exercises

Finally, you can try practicing informal mindfulness. Compared to formal mindfulness practices, informal practice is when mindfulness is embedded in your daily life and integrated into your everyday activities. These activities range from brushing your teeth to cleaning your running shoes. The key to informal mindfulness is practicing kindness and repetition to guide your mind away from distractions and back to the task. To do this, you must be intentional about your activity to hone your focus. While cleaning your running shoes, focus on the sensations you experience as you clean — the sounds that your wiping or scrubbing is producing and the smells of your cleaning product. Every time you find yourself getting distracted by a looming running competition or the workout routine you have to do, use these sensations to guide you back to your current activity. Practicing informal mindfulness helps anchor you to the present, which is an important mindset when practicing and training for your sport.

Written exclusively for Sportingbounce.com

by Aurelia Corvin