Pelé, one of the most famous football players in history, is sure of one thing. For him, “it’s all about practice.” It would make sense to think that this also applies to mindfulness in sports. The more you practice, the better you will be. But does it really work that way?
According to sports coach and psychologist Jonathan García-Allen, a significant number of professional athletes have chosen to use mindfulness in sports. They have chosen mindfulness over the use of cognitive behavioral therapy, which is so popular these days. So what is it about?
What does mindfulness consist of and how can it be used in sports?
Mindfulness is a technique based on focusing all your attention on what you are doing right here and now, without assessments or with as few filters as possible. The goal is to teach your mind some methods so that it can control thoughts, feelings, reactions, and attitudes in the various situations that arise. In this way , mindfulness seeks to improve attention through positive attitudes, self-awareness, and freedom.
It seems obvious that this method is ideal when transferred to sports. After all, a training session, fight or confrontation requires concentration to achieve the optimal result.
Mindfulness steers you towards what is known as a “flow state”. Have you ever had the feeling that you were so focused on an activity that it seemed as if you were floating while performing it? This is exactly what athletes aim for in the most important moments during competitions. And that state can be achieved using this technique.
“If you do not have confidence, you will always find a way not to win.”
How does mindfulness affect sports people?
What we have seen so far is that mindfulness is effective for all kinds of profiles. It is logical to think that athletes are not excluded from the benefits of this technique. How do you think mindfulness affects them?
- Mindfulness is an effective technique to increase athletes’ level of motivation. This will obviously be crucial to achieving optimal performance.
- It is also crucial to each person’s activation level. The more focused and active an athlete is, the more effective he will be with his tasks.
- This technique helps to activate the optimal stress level. In this situation, stress should not be seen as something negative. It is obvious that when one is in a competition, stress is necessary. And this is where mindfulness comes into the picture. It forces the stress to reach its optimal level, which increases the athlete’s ability.
- It should be mentioned that this technique is able to increase an individual’s self-esteem and self-confidence level. An athlete who has complete confidence in his abilities is essential for effective competition.
- Furthermore, mindfulness is very effective when it comes to interpreting success and defeat. It may be that an athlete puts an end to his career when success dies out and they experience defeat constantly. But with a sensible and balanced view of things, their judgment will reach a point where it is coherent with common sense.
- Mindfulness also acts as an effective tool for assembling a team of athletes. Mindfulness creates an optimal community environment that is beneficial to the interpersonal relationships of a group of people.
Mindfulness in sports, as a leader of emotions
As you can see, mindfulness, used wisely, can be a very effective technique in sports. It will break the athletes’ confidence and thus achieve the optimal level of performance. In this way, people accept their feelings and thoughts and deal with them naturally, without the need to change or eliminate them.
This technique seeks to achieve self-awareness and a state of emotional regulation, allowing for effective leadership, not elimination. This brings us back to the “flow state”; the moment when everything has a flow and seems to be in perfect harmony. A state where the activities that you perform do not seem to require any effort.
Therefore, it is crucial to achieve a state of effective acceptance in the present. So let oneself be captivated and join the present, instead of rethinking and trying to control everything. This behavior increases concentration, keeps negative thoughts at bay and provides better sports performance.
That way, we know that mindfulness in sports can be a very useful and effective technique for improving athletes’ performance. In an emotionally balanced state, where everything is in an effortless flow, it will not only be a challenge to bring out the best in yourself, but also a state that you may also enjoy.
“My strength is that I am more balanced and calmer than most other cyclists.”