meditation for athletes

There are some many wondrous benefits of meditation for athletes.

Not only can you get better athletic performances from meditation, but meditation can also help with the stress of performing.

Being a world-renowned sporting hero or top athlete is no easy task.

Being a high profile sports star has its perks, but it also creates high amounts of responsibility, pressure and expectation. That stress has a severe effect on the brain and on an athlete’s performance [1].You can remedy it with meditation.

Why Athletes Should Use Meditation

One of the benefits of meditation for athletes is that it can help with the pressures.

Kids that stand out in their area or high school within a particular sport also deal with similar pressures. In fact, all athletes deal with different emotions, expectations, and pressures regardless of the level at which they are competing.

What separates the great from the good normally comes down to the athlete’s mental strength or mindset. Talent is a key ingredient for success along with good coaching, but how an athlete responds in critical moments is usually the difference-maker.

Junior and college athletes don’t always become the best in their sport. All of the world’s best athletes are the ones who were able to grind it out through the stress that tough times, crucial moments, and controversy brings to the table.

There are many ways for athletes to deal with stress. Meditation is proving to be a trendy and potent stress outlet for athletes.

Along with the fantastic 100 health benefits of meditation, there are some particular benefits of meditation for athletes.

Benefits of meditation for athletes

novak djokovich meditating  

1. Motivation

A study in the Journal of Health Psychology recently found that for athletes, meditation offers a way to stay motivated to exercise and practice regularly. Another critical thing about meditation for athletes is that it helps athletes to feel satisfied with the work and effort that they put in. Being present with the help of meditation gives athletes the capacity to tap into their inner motivation and to feel satisfied.

Read our guide to meditation for motivation for more on this.

2. Stop negative thoughts

Data shows that upwards of 50,000 thoughts go through our heads on a daily basis. Many of these thoughts tend to be on the negative side of the spectrum.

For athletes, negative thoughts equate to poor performance.

A period of mental pausing before practice, a workout, or a game allows us to reset our minds and to enter that next activity in a space that promotes positive thoughts and positive intentions. Pre-game meditation can be the difference between a win or a loss. Hence why so many sports-stars do it.

klay thompson meditating

3. Balance beliefs

Studies show that beliefs affect real-life actions.

Negative beliefs can profoundly impact an athlete’s performance. But you can change those negative beliefs by being more conscious of your thoughts.

Being mindful doesn’t imply the absence of thoughts; it is about becoming aware of the thought patterns that we do have. The only way to limit negative thoughts is to be aware of these thoughts and to change the negatives into positives.

If we are aware of our thoughts, we can take them to the next level by adding an element of visualization to them through meditation. One way how to meditate for athletes is to use visualization. Specifically: Visualize your success.

Being mindful during meditation allows us to track our thought patterns and to change them. To remain meditating in a sitting position for longer, explore Kenshō way’s guide.

For example, let’s say that during your basketball last match you missed a three-pointer right at the buzzer to win the game, this is haunting you and everyone around you seems to be bringing it up as well. Before you know it, the belief that you aren’t able to deliver when the pressure is on starts to creep into your mind. By meditating, athletes can identify negative thought patterns, and then rewrite the script by changing the story.

Imagine making that shot right before the buzzer while you meditate. See the ball go in through the net, feel that feeling of excitement from within, hear the fans cheer from the side of the court. If we as humans believe in something, if we visualize it, and if we attach the correct emotions to it, it will seem to our minds as if it really happened. The next time you are faced with that game-winning shot all those past negative thoughts will be gone, and this all through the help of meditation.


4.  Enjoy their sports more

Under the pressures of competition, it is easy to lose focus on what sport is all about. It is easy for sport to become all about beating the other athlete no matter what, or for it to be about winning the prize money.

Mindful athletes are able to see sport for what it really is, a place where like-minded friends can compete in a sport that they are passionate about. Bringing this spirit back into sports allows us to compete for the right reasons, the power of being mindful through meditation is extreme and it elevates performance beyond what we ever thought we were capable of.

The result of this can often be seen in team sports where a team rallies around their team spirit and around playing for each other instead of losing focus by trying to beat the opponents.

Legendary NBA coach, Phil Jackson, introduced the idea of mindfulness to his teams. His whole perspective was that performance would be elevated if players could align who they are and how they live with authenticity. He had initial success with this thought process at the Chicago Bulls. Once he was at the Los Angeles Lakers it became the standardized process for his teams to centre and ground themselves through mindfulness meditation.

tom brady meditating

5. Sleep better  

Meditation massively improves sleep quality.

Good quality sleep is imperative for athletes that aspire to greatness.

Sleep affects your mood, stress levels, energy levels, concentration and a variety of other performance-related aspects. Sleep affects the recovery of muscles and the functioning of our immune systems.

A study conducted at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Health found that meditation improves sleep and sleep quality. As a result, those who meditate are less affected by acute respiratory infections.

The previously mentioned benefits that meditation gives athletes are just the beginning. Athletes who meditate benefit from it both in their sport and in life in general. In the fast-paced world that both professional and amateur athletes live in, it is essential to take a moment each day to be mindful, to appreciate your sport, and to compete with spirit.

Best meditations for athletes pre-game

There are 31 major meditation techniques you should try.

Movement meditation: 

Movement meditations will relax your mind and heighten your mind-body connection.

Exercises like qigong, tai chi and dance meditations are perfect for athletes.

Read our guide to movement meditations for more on this.

Yoga exercises

Yoga meditation techniques combine the very best of meditation with the best of mindfulness.

There are many great yoga meditations for athletes. And they’re some great pre-game meditations when you want to focus your mind to get that win.

Read our guide to yoga meditation.

Taoist methods

Taoist meditations are all about finding your inner harmony and making body and mind work as one. 

These are the types of meditations Bruce Lee did. And we all know how awesome he was.

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