Every athlete understands the importance of exercising his or her body, but exercising the mind is equally as important. Meditation is exactly that – meditation is exercise for your mind. Meditation strengthens your mind and makes it more flexible; it enables you to think more clearly and decisively; and see others and yourself more objectively.
Anyone who knows the first thing about sports and athletics will tell you that an athlete who has been mentally defeated will ultimately be physically defeated, as well, by his or her opponent. Have you ever heard a coach say to a player, “get your head on straight”? That expression is more than just a figure of speech. If an athlete doesn’t have their “head on straight,” they will not be able to perform to the full extent of their abilities.
Athletes who meditate before a game will go into the game with a clear, focused, and calm attitude. They will not feel “rattled” or “psyched out,” and they will be better able to deal with the high stress of competing against others. In fact, any individual who practices meditation on a regular basis will be able to stay calm and keep a cool head during any stressful situation that presents itself.
So, what are some meditation techniques that can improve an athlete’s performance? First and foremost, visualization is an important technique. You must visualize yourself succeeding. For example, maybe you’re a kicker on a football team – you should visualize yourself kicking a winning field goal over and over again. Really see yourself winning in your mind. Mantras are another crucial technique. A mantra is a word or phrase that is repeated over and over again. For example, a soccer goalie could repeat the phrase, “nothing will get past me… nothing will get past me… nothing will get past me…”
Visualizing success and repeating mantras are easy techniques that anyone can start doing immediately, even if they have no experience meditating. However, there is also the technique of emptying your mind so that you can fully experience the now, without concern for the past or the future. Emptying your mind and living 100 percent in the now is what will bring you calmness in any situation, but it is not as easy to do as the other techniques. It may take you lots of practice, and even coaching, but it is definitely worth the effort.
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