Every Athlete Must Master This Mental Skill
Meditation is one of the most sought after and practiced skills among top athletes. The reason why is because meditation helps athletes learn how to take more control of their focus and emotional control. The challenge in competition is that many athletes struggle with their inner thoughts. Oftentimes, athletes cling onto their thoughts to the point where they start to believe everything that is happening. Thoughts such as, "that player is too good" or "today is not my day". Meditation helps athletes free from this mental struggle because it teaches athletes how to recognize thoughts as just thoughts, without getting caught up in them. As a result, thoughts lose much of their power. Ever wonder why many athletes perform better in practice than in competition? It's because their inner thoughts are more in sync with the present moment. Meditation helps teach athletes essential skills that they must have when under pressure.
Skills such as:
Think of a time when you or an athlete you know was struggling mentally in competition. Most likely they were in need of at least one if not all of the skills shown above. One way to start practicing mediation is by practicing stillness. Stillness is when the athlete pays attention to their current thoughts without reacting. This skill helps the athlete learn how to allow thoughts to just come and go instead of hanging on to those thoughts. To begin the practice of stillness start by narrowing your focus on something small, such as your breath. Begin by focusing only on your breath until most of your focus is only on the breath. Next, begin to allow yourself to become present of other aspects of your present moment experience. This is where you may even begin to notice sounds and other sensations not previously noticed. From this state, then allow yourself to open your focus to your thoughts, allowing your thoughts to just pass without making any judgments or making any sense of them.
There is much more to this practice but stillness is a great place to begin. At SPMI, athletes learn athletic meditation. athletic mediation is mediation customized for athletes within their practice and competition settings. This skill helps athletes let go of unwanted emotions, fears, resentments, and more.