I’ve been talking a lot lately about how mindfulness can relieve daily stresses. It is certainly beneficial and something that should be incorporated into your every day life. However, what happens when you’re an athlete, and it’s game time?
Many athletes experience stress or anxiety during crucial moments in a game. We’re human; that’s completely normal, but that’s not what you want to happen when you need to concentrate. This is where mindfulness comes in to play. There are many different ways in which mindfulness can help your athletic performance.
Today I’m going to talk about different ways athletes can use mindfulness, and I will also explain how and why they are effective.
If you have a moment to yourself before your game starts I would highly recommend meditating. However, I realize that many people prefer privacy when they meditate and that’s not always possible. So, if you don’t have the chance to do a full blown meditation, I would use your warmup as a time to be mindful. While using your warmups, try to be in the moment and just focus on the task at hand. This will help get you into the mindset you will need to be in for the game. If you do any stretches beforehand try breathing into them and focus on the breath. That can help relieve any preliminary tensions you might have.
“Get your head in the game”
I’m sure many of us are familiar with the old High School Musical song, but seriously it helps. When you’re in the game you really should be in the present moment. No matter the sport, focus on what you need to be doing at that moment. Also, when you are on the bench, don’t stress about what you need to do when you get back in, and don’t dwell on any mistakes you might’ve made earlier in the game. It’s best to just be aware of what’s happening in the game right now and cheer on your team. There’s no sense in stressing about what’s already happened or what might’ve happened.
Leave it on the field
Whether we like the outcome of the game or not, we as people tend to be very critical of ourselves. Again it’s just human nature. However, it’s important to silence that inner critic. Regardless of the mistakes you’ve made, you did the best you could. It’s important to recognize what happened, but with mindfulness it’s also equally important to just let things be as they are. Likewise, it’s also important to not stress about the next game; just let it happen when the time comes. Meditations can be very helpful with both of these. I’d personally recommend any meditation that has an emphasis on grounding. Breathing meditations can often serve this purpose.
Now I also think it’s important to note that these sorts of techniques can apply to more than just athletes. I myself have been on stage many times, and I’ve found that these techniques can also be applied to this situation. Doing meditation or breathing exercises prior to performing can help relieve anxiety. However, While performing sometimes I find it easier to focus on the audience’s reactions. If I focus too hard on what I’m doing sometimes it can make me trip up. However if I find it more difficult it usually helps to focus, but if I already know what I’m doing sometimes it’s just best to trust my gut. However, everyone’s different so choose the strategy that makes you the most comfortable. I’ve also found that leaving it all on the stage and letting your performance be what it is can be extremely helpful.
I hope all the athletes who’ve read this have found something that may help with their game anxiety. There really are ways to be mindful for every stage of the game. Feel free to use these strategies through a tough practice too. Of course the stresses of being an athlete are much akin to being a performer. So I hope performers of all sorts can also take something from this article.
Are you an athlete? Wav you tried any of these techniques? Do you have other techniques you like to use? Let me know in the comments.
If you’ve never been mindful before, make today the day you start your journey. Remember: Everyone starts as a beginner, if they can do it then so can you!
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