There are many ways to succeed as an athlete. The skills required for success depend on which sport you are involved in.
Athletes can use a variety of techniques and tools to develop their talents. Every one is tailored for their sport or position.
However, there’s one key tool that can make all the difference to your chances of success, and it doesn’t matter what sport you choose.
Meditation is the tool that I’m referring to. You will see the first benefits of meditation as soon as you start your practice.
Slow, but steady starts
Meditation has been a constant attraction for me. Since I first learned about meditation, it seemed like there was a pull to me. Though, that doesn’t mean it was easy for me to stick to a routine.
Many athletes have tried to meditate, but quit when they realized how uncomfortable it was.
You can have all kinds of negative and strange thoughts when you meditate with your eyes closed. Without the proper understanding that these thoughts are necessary for your growth, it can feel as if you’re doing more harm than good.
That’s exactly what happened to me in the beginning.
My meditation practice was quickly abandoned after I had completed a short stent. I blamed my intense negativity thoughts.
I’ve always struggled with low confidence, anxiety, and extreme negative self-talk. Meditation seemed to amplify all of these issues.
Others have experienced the same problems when starting a new practice.
The reason I feel it’s important to address this before diving into the benefits of meditation on athletic performance is to help curb the desire you will inevitably have to quit.
The realization that I was just processing these feelings and thoughts helped me to get over my first bout with constant negative thoughts.
As I’ve grown in my practice, less and less has this occurred. Because I let my mind, my mind worked through all of my baggage.
Keep at it. Don’t give up at the first fearful thought that enters your mind.
Understand it’s all part of the process. If you persevere through, you can expect all the benefits I’m about to outline and watch as they lead you down the path to athletic success.
The benefits of meditation for athletes
This is why mindfulness meditation is the best type of meditation to link with these benefits. It’s the simplest for athletes to begin practicing and is one of the most widely researched in its effects of athletic performance.
It’s the form of meditation I use and have my clients use as well, resulting in first-hand experience of the powers the practice can have.
If you’re ready to take on a mindfulness meditation practice of your own, here are some of the major ways it will positively impact your athletic performance.
“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water. Put water in a cup and it will become the cup. You then put water into the glass, which becomes the bottle. Then you place it into the teapot. Water can either flow freely or crash. Be water, my friend.” – Bruce Lee
Reduction in Anxiety
Anxiety can be a huge obstacle to your athletic success. All thoughts are racing and all feelings of anxiety revolve around worrying about what could happen.
If you’ve experience anxiety before, I don’t need to tell you how devastating of a situation it is to find yourself in.
These feelings of dread, anxiety, and fear can lead to self-doubt and fear and prevent you from being able to perform naturally and freely. Both are vital for your success.
Meditation helps to control anxiety and reduce racing thoughts.
Mindfulness meditation refers to the act of focusing your attention on the present moment. It is the future that causes anxiety. Anxiety isn’t a result of present-day awareness. The future is unknown. This possibility exists in the near future.
Anxiety will begin to disappear when you learn to stay present and focused on the moment. You can improve your concentration by using mindfulness meditation skills during a game.
Concentrate on the present and keep your attention there. This will help you to be more focused in this moment.
One of my favorite ways to express mindfulness meditation to athletes (especially those who don’t find much appeal in the idea of meditation) is that it is simply focus training.
Meditation can also be practiced at a deeper level. It is important to understand that meditation can be used as a training tool for mindfulness.
There are many distractions during performances. Distractions can range from the future-oriented thoughts we talked about in section on anxiety to the fans or the other team watching.
They all distract from your task and take advantage of your inability to concentrate. You will be less fully present if you let your attention drift. Athletes know that poor concentration leads to decreased performance.
Meditation can help you master your focus. When your mind seems uncontrollable, meditation will give you the ability to direct your focus.
By centering your focus more on what you’re doing, your performances will be done with much more ease and the effort you put forth will be completely directed to the goal you are seeking to accomplish.
Being non-reactive is an important skill that any athlete should master.
When I say reactive, I’m referring to emotional reactivity. Emotions can become your downfall if they are allowed to take over during performances.
I’m sure you know of players who are at the mercy of their emotions. Any mistake made by one team, any comment made or omission from an official results in players becoming compulsive and losing their temper.
However, what’s your ultimate goal in a game of football?
The ultimate goal should be to do your best. Truth be told, this has nothing to do whatsoever with anyone, whether official or not.
Reactiveness is a way to give power over to another person.
Meditation allows you to regain this power.
Mindfulness can help you overcome emotional reactions that could hinder your success. The ability to observe and choose objectively what to do is part of mindfulness.
It’s a remarkable skill, that when developed, you realize the tremendous power it places in your hands.
An athlete shouldn’t be without meditation. Meditation, especially mindfulness meditation, can help you gain control over your attention and teach you how to remain present.
A lot of anxiety is about living in the future. This makes it hard to be present in the moment.
You will not be affected by distractions as long as you have a better ability to concentrate and less emotional reactivity that drains your energy.
The only thing that is left to be answered is, are you willing to try meditation for yourself?