Mindfulness is a powerful tool. It can alleviate stress, improve physical health, increase focus, and encourage healthier moods. The benefits do not end there, as mindfulness can have a significant impact on competitive sports.

There’s a saying that ninety percent of performance in sports is mental, and this is true in many ways. People tend to assume that their mental state cannot be controlled or altered – yet with training, practice, and time, anything is possible. 

Staying in the Moment

Techniques such as mindfulness can significantly improve one’s game, especially when playing on a competitive level. It teaches athletes how to stay in the moment – and more importantly, how to remain outside of their heads.

We all know that sometimes we can be our own worst enemies. It’s too easy to picture our fears – the shot going wrong, a simple and avoidable mistake happening, etc. Mindfulness encourages us to set those fears aside and focus on the here and now.

The Zone

Have you ever heard an athlete speak about ‘the zone?’ The odds are good that you have. The zone is a term that comes up in sports psychology, where an athlete is so focused on the game that everything sort of flows around them. It’s a tunnel vision of sorts. The zone is the peak mental state for athletes.

How does mindfulness encourage the zone? One study found that athletes with a high understanding of mindfulness were more likely to get into the zone (also known as flow). That same study found that these athletes had more control over their emotions and attention and a better chance of positive thinking.

Aiding Competitive Sports

Naturally, the athletes that perform at a competitive level deal with the most pressure. They have the drive to succeed but more to lose in the process. Therefore, they need to obtain healthy psychological practices.

The best way to encourage a healthy mental state is by decreasing negative thoughts/concerns. Experts recommend tactics such as meditation and goal setting to control one’s frame of mind. Once again, this is where mindfulness comes into play. The ultimate goal of meditation is to encourage an athlete to push aside all negative thoughts and instead focus entirely on what is at hand. In other words – they hope to achieve mindfulness.

Article originally published on KarlMotey.co