Sunday, November 19, 2017

Designing a Mindfulness Program for Athletes



Athletes need to know why and what to do. What elements belong to mindfulness training for young athletes? 

Elite professional athletes and Olympians benefit from mindfulness programs. Let's enhance our athletes' resources for better performance. 

We are in the early innings of measuring gains in athletic performance through mindfulness. There is evidence of improvement in attention and mental resilience through mindfulness training in Division 1 football players. Mindfulness training may help endurance, recovery, sleep, and relaxation. 

The goal is improving attention, acceptance (of temporary setbacks), and separating experience from thoughts. A "bad play" can't multiply into negative thoughts. Swiss investigators are designing a program combining psychological skills training and mindfulness intervention.  

Psychological skills training focuses heavily on positive imaging (visualizing success) and self-regulation talk (identity and performance). We can formalize this

MSPE. Mindful sport performance enhancement...was designed as short-term training. Flow and confidence improved, particularly optimism, using a variety of objective measures. Mindfulness can improve attention, self-regulation, and motivation. 

Methods included elements from mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) including:




Raisin exercise (above)...appreciate the depth of the NOW experience. 
Body scan (UCLA link). Body scan may reduce tension, pain, and improve awareness via mind-body neural links. 
Mindful breathing (UCLA link). Mindful breathing may decrease fear, increase happiness, and help relaxation. 
Walking meditation

Journaling. Athletes may elect to keep a mindfulness journal. Mindfulness journals may help translate what we envision into experience. Meng Tan in Search Inside Yourself discusses positive employment differential of about forty percent in unemployed people who simply journaled about their job prospects. 

Apps. Undaunted is an application available through the Apple store. 

Coaches and players have new tools to build mental capacity. Why not? 

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