Today, one of my friends asked me about the benefits of meditation for football players (“soccer” in the US). He is interested in getting better at football. And he heard that meditation could help athletes to perform better.
Well, my friend, you are right.
There are many benefits of meditation for football players. Meditation:
- Improves coordination
- Helps your body perform at peak condition
- Reduces healing time
- Improves reaction times
- Helps with teamwork and team mentality
- And reduces stress ahead of big matches.
Indeed, it’s no wonder there are so many professional football players who meditate: Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ryan Giggs, David Silva, John Terry, David Beckham, Roy Keane, and Gareth Bale.
Whether you’re a “soccer” player or a coach, you will get a lot out of meditating. Let me show you why. [Also read: Meditation for Athletes]
Benefits of Meditation for Football Players
1: Rest & Healing
You’re probably focused on what happens on the pitch. However, what happens off the pitch is equally important. Your body needs time to rest and heal. And if you’re a professional football player, rest time might be short. Therefore, you need to make the most of it.
Meditation helps the body heal. How? According to Hari Sharma at the Center for Integrative Medicine at Ohio State University, meditation reduces oxygen consumption by 20%. And it also lowers your heart rate according to Harvard Medical School. This creates a physiological state that is perfect for resting and healing.
Basically, football players who meditate will spend less time on the bench.
2: Better Reaction Times
Whether you’re a striker or a goalie, you need good reaction times. And meditation can help.
According to research from the Department of Biology at the University of Kentucky, meditation improves reaction times. They tested this by asking a group of meditators to complete a vigilance task. A vigilance task is a test in which participants are asked to select one item from a group of alternatives. Reaction times were significantly faster in those who meditated.
In other words, meditation improves reaction times so you can score that goal or stop that shot.
3: Strategy and Tactics
As a football player, you need both your body and your mind to be in good condition. You need to make snap-second decisions. The better decisions you make the more you will be able to follow your team’s strategy.
Sometimes the ball comes to you out of nowhere and you need to make a decision: pass, run, shoot, etc. Again, meditation can help because it improves decision-making skills.
Researchers at Virginia Tech Carilion Research Center studied the effect of meditation on decision making. They found that meditators use their anterior insula (part of the brain) less than non-meditators. This helps us to make decisions based on information and logic rather than emotions.
Overall, with meditation, you will be less inclined to follow your emotions (whether that be stress or over-confidence) and more inclined to make the right choice. Ultimately, this will help you to make better tactical decisions on the pitch.
4: Improves Motor Performance
Footballers need excellent motor performance. That is, the ability to coordinate our movements. Only with good motor performance skills can you coordinate the movement of your leg and foot so you strike the ball at the perfect time and in the perfect way.
Andy Rimol, a student at Princeton University, conducted research into the effect of meditation on motor skills. He asked a group of basketball players at his university to practice meditation. And as he had anticipated, players who meditated had better motor performance skills.
Therefore, football players who meditate will have better control of the body. In other words, it will help you to make the perfect pass, hit the top-corner when you shoot, and save the hardest of shots.
Lionel Messi once said, “The best decisions aren’t made with your mind but with your instincts.” Which is great, because meditation can help you tap into your instincts according to researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
Researchers found that meditation strengthens regions of the brain. Specifically, the left hippocampus, cingulate cortex, the temporoparietal junction, and the cerebellum. This, researchers state, suggests that meditation helps us to follow our instincts.
6: And of course…
Let’s not forget about stress. Obviously, in big games you are inclined to feel stressed. I can only imagine how a professional football player feels when they step up to take a decisive penalty. Gut-wrenching. But meditation can help. Indeed, arguably the number one benefit of meditation is stress reduction.
When you meditate, you train your mind to stay calm. And calmness is essential. I’m sure you’ve noticed how the best penalty takers (Ronaldo, Giroud) are also the calmest.
There are so many benefits of meditation for footballers. When you meditate you train your mind and body to work in peak condition, while also reducing the stress of big games.
Of course, meditation isn’t meant to replace traditional coaching. If you want to get better at football you still need to follow the basics (here’s a guide on The Professional Football Scouts Associations). However, it is definitely a wonderful alternative form of training.
If you’re a footballer and would like to learn to meditate properly, book an online meditation lesson with me today.