Mindfulness training has been increasing in popularity as sports psychologists have seen how even the best athletes experience intruding negative thoughts during their most important events. If your youth is into sports, having them learn mindfulness from a young age can benefit them in a number of ways. To see some of the ways mindfulness can benefit your young athlete, you can read Kelly Caleb’s Now Cow books about mindfulness for children. Also, continue reading to learn how mindfulness can benefit athletes of all ages.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness has been described as paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment. That means being aware of what is going on both inside and outside of yourself, without getting lost in the thoughts that are always in your mind. While mindfulness is an ancient Eastern religious concept, it is very popular in the West today without a religious component.
In sports psychology, mindfulness is the ability to put attention where it needs to be while performing the given sport, whether that’s swimming, soccer, football, basketball, ballet dancing, or any other activity your child needs to focus on to perform well physically. Mindfulness is a skill, like any other, that needs to be practiced so it can be used when performing under pressure. Mindfulness training is an essential tool to help young athletes develop the skill of mindfulness.
How Does Mindfulness Benefit Athletes?
When you see athletes in practice, they look totally focused, as if the world around them doesn’t exist. However, the fact is, their minds are busy. Even the best athletes have intrusive thoughts of doubt and worry. Fortunately, they can learn to refocus on the task at hand. This ability to take charge of their attention during the crucial moments of their performance is the most important psychological skill for athletes.
If an athlete is not fully focused, their performance will suffer. A football player may miss the opportunity for a brilliant pass because they do not see that a teammate is open. A dancer may miss a cue by a second and become out of step with the other dancers on stage.
When a researcher named Tobias Lundgren and his colleagues taught mindfulness to a group of ice hockey players in Sweden, he found that the players performed better at goals, assists, and shots taken. They were also rated by their coaches as being more focused and committed. Simply put, mindfulness helps athletes do their best.
Mindfulness is well known for reducing stress. When young athletes experience less overall stress, they are able to bring their best performance to the field, court, stage, pitch, track, or what have you. The less stress they experience during athletic performance as well as during the rest of their lives, the better their performance will be.
How Can My Athlete Achieve Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is not a one-time achievement, but rather a practice to start as young as possible. Mindfulness activities can be fun and there are many mindfulness exercises you can help your child practice. Start with these and move on from there. You can also read to or with your child about mindfulness in books like Kelly Caleb’s Now Cow mindfulness books for children. To help your young athlete perform at their best, help them start a mindfulness practice now.
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