Mindfulness in Sport Masterclass

Mind Body Balance for Success

Woman Practicing MindfulnessMany coaches and sports performers are exploring mindfulness in sport as a way of improving athletic performance and maintaining an excellent balance between body and mind. So whether you are looking to eliminate negative thoughts, focus on the task at hand, or maintain a loose relaxed physical state to aid skilled, coordinated performance mindfulness can be a helpful strategy.

  • Here at Sporting Bounce we have partnered with the Sport Psych Lab to bring you a series of courses and Masterclasses in sport psychology. Written by top sport psychologists with backgrounds in research and practice the Mindfulness in Sport Masterclass has been developed to help outline mindfulness based interventions, provide some practical and helpful strategies so you can practice being mindful in sport and provide an excellent basis for mindfulness training. The course itself comprises professionally produced audio material which you can download to use anywhere so you can listen at your convenience. The audio material also comes with a helpful workbook with very helpful practical strategies and mindfulness exercises to help you develop this skill in sport. The course has been developed to have a practical approach drawing on the latest research exploring the relationship between mindfulness and sport performance. confidence from a sport psychology perspective. So all the practical tips outlined are built on current research and approaches which consider the effect of mindfulness as useful intervention in sport.

So let us explore mindfulness in sport with a brief overview. 

Be good to yourself

Mindfulness is attention to now. It means being present with experience. As simple as it seems, we, as human beings struggle to be here now because our attention is drawn in every direction away from where we are now. With this ever moving focus, we often forget about ourselves. This loss of enlightened self-interest to look after ourselves means we are often at the end of lengthy lists of things to do and be in our lives. Mindfulness is a gift to ourselves, but also to others. When you learn to be good to yourself, others will see your actions and realise that being good to oneself is a necessary and worthwhile pursuit. It seems strange that we should begin with a directive to be good to yourself; however, we need to emphasise now and later that being good to yourself can be a little trickier than expected. We need to find ways and means to be good to ourselves. This is an exciting journey for all of us, so let’s begin.

Breathe

To live more mindfully, we can begin with the breath. The process is simple, yet profound: Breathe in; Breathe out. Our awareness lies with our breath – breathing in and breathing out. Our breathing occurs unconsciously until we attend to our breathing. We can down our breathing or speed it up. Our focus here is to on the breath: Breathe in… Breathe out. Regardless of where we might be, sitting in a changing room, about to hit a golf ball, about to shoot a penalty; we can attend to our breath.

In our busy world of sport, it seems like there is never enough ‘doing’. There is always more to do; but at the end of the doing, we need to be. NBA basketball coach, Phil Jackson suggested that: 

“A lot of athletes think the trick to getting better is just to work harder. But there is a great power in non-action and non-thinking. The hardest thing, after all the work and all the time spent on training and technique, is just being fully present in the moment”

To be present at the moment, we attend to our breath. Breathe in… Breathe out… Wherever we are and whatever we might do, we can be mindfully present now. Throughout these lessons, we shall return to the breath and to a mindful way of attending to life. The past and future have their part to play in our lives, but we live in the present.

See the good

We receive many requests for help and support, but at the heart of many requests is a need to see the good inside. The person seeking help can see the good in others, the world around them, but the same view of themselves seems to draw a blank Once we begin an exercise to see the good in oneself, the trickle comes before the flow. Clients normally say “This is so hard for me” or “I’ve never done this before” or “How come I don’t see in me what I see in others?” This question stumps them. But when they write and attend to now, the flow of attributes, characteristics and personality traits flood the page. We store those unhelpful memories and images rather than the more helpful ones. Let’s attend to ourselves and see the good first.

Seeing the Good in Me

Write all the best things about you and give one example.

(e.g., I’m kind; I give my time to coach my local football team)

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.


Slow down and relax

We live our lives at a speed we rarely enjoy. In my office, I keep a metronome. I use the metronome to illustrate to clients the pace they feel they live their lives. I ask them to tell me when the metronome is swinging at the pace that reflects their everyday life. Without fail, the pace is always many, many beats per minute higher that is comfortable. Why do we live our lives at a pace so few of us can sustain or endure? One reason is because we feel compelled to keep up with everyone else even though in so many ways their lives or different from others. If we are to slow down the pace of our lives, we can begin by slowing down what is happening in your mind and body regardless of the pace outside you. Here’s one simple exercise to try while walking down a busy street. Slow down your pace to what feels comfortable to you. Pay attention to each step as your foot touches the pavement. Let the pace of others slip from your attention as you focus on your footsteps and your gaze a few metres in front of you.


Next Steps

Mindfulness in sport can be a very helpful strategy for success. If you would like to spend some time investing in your ability to develop this skill then the Mindfulness in Sport Masterclass is for you. While also outlining the basics of mindfulness a number of practical strategies are outlined that can help you perform to your potential, and achieve mind-body balance in your sport. View this and other courses run by the Sport Psych Lab here.