As a professional meditation teacher and aficionado of “The beautiful game”, many people have asked me if there’s any value in meditation for football players/soccer player. And the answer is a big Yes.
- Improves coordination
- Helps your body to perform at peak condition
- Reduces healing time
- Improves reaction times
- Reduces stress ahead of big matches.
- Helps with teamwork
- And much more
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 to name a few.
Whether you’re a “soccer” player or a coach, you will get a lot out of meditating. Just try the meditation below. [Also read: Meditation for Athletes]
Meditate With Me
Join me for a private meditation session. Master meditation. Master your mind.
- Sit comfortably and close your eyes
- Focus your mind on the sensation of your breath moving through the space just beneath the middle of your nose. Take 25 breaths.
- Now expand your awareness. Be aware of your breath moving all the way in through your nose and down into your abdomen. If it helps you, you can place a hand on your abdomen so you can feel your breath moving. Take 25 breaths
- You will now feel calm and relaxed. Notice how that sense of relaxation feels in your mind and body. It will be like an empty sense of spaciousness. Focus on that for another 25 breaths.
- Now notice how suddenly the world around you feels more quiet and more relaxed. Focus on the space around you for another 25 breaths.
- Open your eyes.
Benefits of Meditation for Footballers
1: Meditation helps with healing off the pitch
You’re probably mostly 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 to heal more quickly. How?
According to Hari Sharma at the Center for Integrative Medicine at Ohio State University, meditation reduces oxygen consumption by 20%. Plus, it 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.
Researchers 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: Improves Your Strategy and Tactics
As a football player, you need to make snap-second decisions and the better decisions you make the more likely your team is of winning.
Sometimes the ball comes to you out of nowhere and you need to make a decision: pass, run, shoot, etc. And you have to make that decision instantly. Thankfully, 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 significantly better motor performance skills.
In other words, meditation 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.
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston found that meditation strengthens the left hippocampus, cingulate cortex, temporoparietal junction, and cerebellum, which suggests that it helps us to follow our instincts.
6: Less stress before the big game
Let’s not forget about stress.
Obviously, in big games, you are inclined to feel stressed. I can only imagine how professional football players feel 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.
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 great guide on The Professional Football Scouts Association). 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.
Paul Harrison BSc is a qualified meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in teaching meditation and mindfulness both to individuals and to corporations and is the author of four books on meditation. He has been featured in Psychology Today, Breathe Magazine, Healthline, Psych Central and Lion’s Roar.
Paul studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
Paul’s biggest inspirations include Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat Zinn, and Jack Kornfield.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison