Meditation

Meditation is another popular mental exercise among athletes. There have been many studies about the health benefits of meditation. Likewise, there are many books about how meditation relates to spirituality and happiness. However, I just want to talk about meditation and how it relates to sports.

First of all, your sports performance can be indirectly improved by the physical and mental health benefits of meditation. Lowered anxiety and lowered blood pressure are beneficial to everyone. A healthier human is a better athlete.


In a more direct way, meditation helps athletes by being an arousal-controlling pre-game routine. To try to get their body and mind right for a game, many athletes meditate as a pre-game ritual. This clears their mind, relaxes their body, and eases their nerves so they can better enter "the zone" before a game.


Secondly, a big part of peak performance is concentration. To perform you best under the most pressured situations, you need to control your thoughts and attention. One of the best ways to practice this is through mediation. If you can concentrate on your breathing for 10, 20, or 60 minutes at a time, then you will be better able to control your thoughts, attention, and emotions in games. It is a skill that can be improved with meditation.


Now that you know the benefits of meditation, you should incorporate it into your training regimen. Perhaps you can meditate for 5-10 minutes every night before bed or after waking up in the morning. If that seems too difficult, you can schedule meditation sessions for only two or three times per week. You should also incorporate it into your pre-game routine. Find the time before every game to meditate to help yourself control your arousal level and get into a peak performance mindset.


If you are unfamiliar with meditation and are not sure how to practice it, here are more detailed instructions on how to meditate:

1. Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lay down. Laying down can be risky because it can make you sleepy. The goal is to be as comfortable as possible while still being able to concentrate. Uncomfortable muscles can be distracting.
2. You don’t have to close your eyes, but closing your eyes helps remove visual distractions.
3. Relax your muscles. Relaxed muscles just feels better than being tense.
4. Breathe deeply. Deeper breaths help you relax your muscles and focus.
5. Focus your attention on your breath as you breathe in and out. Pay attention to the sound of your breathing, or how it feels going through your body, and notice the silence in between inhales and exhales. This keeps your mind focused on the present moment instead of random thoughts.
6. If you notice that a random thought enters your mind, simply refocus on your breathing. This will happen a lot, but don’t get upset. You need to calmly refocus on your breathing. Getting emotional will only make it harder to focus and relax.

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