‘You don’t win tournaments by playing well and thinking poorly’ ~ Lee Westwood.
Mindfulness has been proven to be highly effective for sportspeople and is used by Olympians to increase focus and improve results.
Meditation is a well-regarded tool for creating superior athletic performance. Research at the French Institute of Sport showed that integrating mindfulness and meditation into training programs enhanced performance and improved the efficacy of sports routines.(*)
Research: Gardner & Moore (2004) developed the Mindfulness – Acceptance – Commitment approach to performance (MAC). They suggested that performance outcomes depend on the extent to which an athlete accepts their own positive or negative thoughts and feelings (called experiential acceptance) and maintains focus on the task at hand.
Research on the application of mindfulness to athletic performance has suggested that practicing mindful exercises in addition to physical training resulted in improved mental and physical performance. Petrillo et al. (2009) studied the effects of mindfulness training in long distance runners. Archers, golfers and runners followed a year long program of mindful sports performance enhancement (MPSE) with a view to improving athletic and psychological performance.
All groups reported a significant increase in improved ability to act with awareness and overall trait mindfulness in the follow up study. The runners also reported significant improvements in their mile times demonstrating the effectiveness of the intervention.
Results: “There are only so many ways we can continue to get bigger, faster and stronger,” says Trevor Moawad, Vice President of Pro and Elite Sports at EXOS. Moawad is a leading Mental Conditioning Coach and has worked with top collegiate football programs like University of Alabama and Florida State as well as pro football teams such as the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“If you change the overall mental mindset, you can see results faster,” says Moawad.
While sports psychologists have been around for years, we’re talking about more than just game-like visualizations and positive affirmations. Increasingly, elite athletes and sports programs, from Super Bowl XLVIII champs, the Seattle Seahawks, to Olympic snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler, are incorporating mindfulness, meditation, yoga and other practices into their training regimen.
By learning to stay focused on the present moment and strengthen the mind-body connection, these competitors aim to unlock a new edge on the competition — while feeling better in their own skin.
Not only can our thoughts and internal dialogue create a stress response, it also impacts our behavior. “What we’re telling ourselves affects what we see, and what we see affects what we feel,” says Moawad. Recent studies by researchers at Coventry University and Staffordshire University found that increased stress and anxiety, including fear of failure, does affect athletic performance in competitive situations.