How Meditation Can Improve Athletic Performance
While physical training is always a key component in the athlete’s preparation, the importance of mental conditioning and preparation should not be forgotten, especially the level of mental conditioning that can be achieved through the practice of meditation.
Here’s how meditation can benefit your athlete clients:
Meditation for Performance
Meditation has been demonstrated as an effective practice by the world’s best athletes including Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Olympic gold medal-winning volleyball players Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh.
This makes complete sense when you consider the fact that the mind influences the way we move, behave, and perform on even the most subtle levels. The best athletes understand that their talent and skills won’t measure up if they aren’t mentally prepared come game day.
Reducing Your Athlete’s Stress Levels
Being relaxed increases the ability to remain calm under pressure and also improves alertness. Emotional stimulation can obstruct the athlete’s focus and the physical functioning of their body, which will often lead to a less than desirable result.
A study revealed that heightened stress levels lead to increased muscle tension and a delay in response time.
A recent study published in the Journal of Health Psychology showed that the results of meditation are typically associated with reduced stress levels in addition to decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This means that distraction or emotional turbulence can be set aside, enabling the athlete to focus on a sharp performance.
Improve Quality of Sleep
Sleep is a critical aspect of performance; this is when the body recovers and the mind can rest. Many athletes do not get as much sleep as they should due to aches, pains, and high levels of stress. A lack of sleep has been shown to cause weight gain, negatively affect athletic performance, and result in an inability to focus. It can even lead to depression.
Athletes who are able to sleep better at night have been shown to perform better and experience better overall health. Improved quality and length of sleep are just another one of the great benefits of meditation.
Boost Athletic Energy and Endurance
The most common factor when it comes to low energy is mental exertion. Fatigue is often related to stress and anxiety. Even if your athletes aren’t feeling stressed, you can be sure that their mind is always at work trying to figure something out. The higher levels of activity, the more energy that is required. This communication originates in the brain, but also affects the body as well, which is why mental fatigue can be felt all over their body. These responses require large amounts of energy. This over-stimulation can eventually lead to intense mental and physical fatigue for your athlete.
By practicing meditation that utilizes visualization, athletic endurance can be greatly improved. Athletes who visualize accomplishing a specific goal, combined with the practice of deep breathing can help to train the body to work harder and for a longer period of time.
Who Helps Athletes with Meditation?
Sport psychology is the scientific study of people and their behaviors in sports and the practical application of that knowledge. Sports Psychology Coaches have endless opportunities to work with athletes ranging from beginning to professional and all points in between.
Learn more about becoming a Sports Psychology coach – here is the link!