There was a recently published article outlining a strategic mindfulness plan to enhance athletic performance. The article is a prelude to a book, “Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement,” coming out soon. It is generally well accepted that there is a significant mental component to athletic performance. Coaches, parents and athletes all agree that enhancing mental clarity, focus, concentration, and awareness are all factors which set superior athletes apart from the mediocre. But according to studies, mental training, mindfulness, and other focus and awareness building practices are not widely used within the sports community. The biggest factor contributing to this lack seems to be a lack of familiarization of how to facilitate these elements within a sports training regimen.
Strategy for Mindfulness within a Sports Setting
Keith Kaufman, PhD, outlines a great strategy for mindfulness within a sports setting. He advocates using multiple elements of facilitation, including educational, discussion and experiential. He utilizes a 6 session approach which teaches athletes to incorporate various mindfulness practices into daily life. Instead of formal practices, he utilizes informal ones which train for intentional interaction with daily tasks and work-out regimens.
Learning Awareness of Thoughts Better Equips Athletes to Overcome Negative Playback
By learning mindful awareness of thoughts, athletes are better equipped to overcome negative thoughts which arise during stressful performances. In instances where an athlete thinks that something is not possible, mindfulness allows for an awareness that that thought is merely a thought, and not an objective truth of his/her lack of ability.
Study Reveals Higher Performances and Less Anxiety Following Mindfulness Program
A recent study, cited within the book, looks at 81 college athletes that completed a mindfulness program. They showed significant increases in mindfulness and flow (feeling “in the zone). They also rated their performances higher and had less anxiety following the program.
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Node Smith, associate editor for NDNR, is a fifth year naturopathic medical student at NUNM, where he has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine amongst the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend campout where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Three years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.