Note: This is a guest post by Isabel Speckman from Vivotion.
When it comes to sports, it’s not only the body that needs regular training to achieve optimal performance, but also the mind. No matter how physically prepared you are, all your efforts might be put to waste if the thoughts going on inside your head prevent you from performing at your potential.
Although it’s normal to be nervous, worried or stressed before you compete, there’s a way to prevent it from acting as a barrier towards success – through meditation. Vivotion believes having control over your mind is essential if you want to be satisfied with whatever results you get.
While meditation is known to be a thing for yogis and middle-aged hippies, it’s also highly beneficial for athletes as it boosts athletic performance. This practice has been widely used by a lot of athletes, even some of the world’s top sports players, such as NBA stars, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neal, as well as MMA champions Conor McGregor, Lyodo Machita and Anderson Silva.
So, how does meditation help improve athletic performance? This article will help you understand why you’ll benefit from making it an essential part of your training.
It Reduces Stress
Let’s face it, stress is a part of our lives, and sometimes it can be good, but it can also severely affect performance. Although it cannot be eliminated, it’s essential, especially for athletes, to find a way to manage stress.
Meditation is an effective way to prepare yourself mentally before a competition or a game. In a recent study from the Journal of Health Psychology, results suggest that mindfulness meditation can have a significant impact on lowering stress hormones.
Managing your stress can help you remain in a calm state even when you’re under pressure. This allows you to carefully plan, even when you’re in the middle of stressful situations, which will surely give you an edge over your opponents.
It Improves Sleep Patterns
It isn’t a surprise that lack of sleep can bring about adverse effects to our health. But it’s crucial for athletes to be able to get as much rest as they need.
It can also severely affect performance and make you lose concentration. With the help of meditation, you’re likely to notice an improvement in the quality and length of your sleep. According to the results of research from Harvard Medical School, meditation balances out the activity of the brain, bringing it to a calmer state.
It Boosts the Immune System
Besides sleeping better, meditation also keeps you in good health. As an athlete, the last thing you want to happen before you compete is getting sick. One of the benefits of meditation is strengthening your immune system, which can prevent illness and improve overall health.
It Increases Focus
There are a lot of things that bother athletes during competition. It could be the noise from the crowd, the other competitors, or even contemplating past mistakes. These distractions, whether big or small, can have adverse effects on athletic performance.
A lack of concentration could be the difference between making or missing the winning shot; the difference between success and failure. Luckily, one of the things that you can learn through meditation is to focus on the present and ignore all distractions around you.
More broadly, meditation can also help keep you focused on your goal no matter what life throws at you.
It Develops Self and Body Awareness
Meditation teaches us to connect our minds with our bodies, which can be a useful tool for athletes wanting to perform better. By acknowledging our “blind spots” we can find a way to conquer them rather than simply ignore them.
Being aware of our flaws makes it easier for us to think of ways to cope up with them. And for athletes, this serves as a way to build their self-confidence and improve performance. It can also help prevent injury by increasing awareness of your muscles, making you more mindful and deliberate with your movements.
It Makes it Easier to ‘Get Into the Zone’
If you aren’t familiar with the psychological concept of being in “flow”, it’s the state of being fully immersed in an activity, whereby you experience intense focus and concentration, a merging of action and awareness, and a full and complete sense of control over yourself and the situation. In sports and athletic performance, it’s known as being in the zone. You can think of it as beast mode, wherein you feel like you’ve pushed through all barriers, and are performing at level beyond what you thought possible.
It’s that time when you’re thinking of nothing but the game, and even you’re amazed at how well you’re playing.
When you get into the zone, your body and mind work together so effectively that you unconsciously make the right moves and fully internalize mastery of your given sport.
Practicing meditation can help you enter this heightened state of performance more readily.
Former UFC Light Heavyweight champion, Lyodo Machida, is known to use meditation techniques prior to competition to help him get into the zone.
It Improves Enjoyment and Satisfaction
Meditation is a journey to becoming a happier human being, and this is what many athletes need. With a lot of people counting on them, athletes can often deal with high levels of pressure and anxiety. Although it can sometimes serve as strong motivation, there are other times when you feel like you simply aren’t good enough.
The practice of meditation gives you the freedom to be who you are and not think about our concern yourself with other people’s opinions or expectations. You’re the only person who can control yourself, and you will be able to manage that with the help of meditation.
Without a doubt, meditation has many benefits that can boost your athletic performance. It doesn’t matter if you’re an elite level athlete or a fitness enthusiast, meditation can help you step up your game! Aside from that, incorporating this practice into your routine will positively affect all aspects of your life – including your relationships with family and friends, as well as your productivity levels at work.
Another great thing about meditation is that it doesn’t require any equipment for you to get started. All you need is a quiet and comfortable place. Taking deep breaths is the most popular form of meditation, but other techniques might be more appealing for you – try different things out and see what works.
Author Bio: Isabel Speckman is a North Carolina-based freelance writer and work-from-home mother of three. In her 10 years as a professional writer, she’s worked in proposal management, grant writing, and content creation. Her writing skills may be confirmed independently on Vivotion. Personally, she’s passionate about teaching her family how to stay safe, secure and action-ready in the event of a disaster or emergency.