A mind that is not under control is a mind that always makes mistakes, specially those that could prevent you from winning. For example, high level of stress can decrease your ability to maintain focus and concentration.
Many athletes during their training face several challenges such as, anxiety, depression, stress ,inability to maintain focus, sleep difficulties, confidence, etc which are usually at mental level.
Hence, at this point, meditation serves as a very important tool for the athletes to remain normal and focused.
While physical training is always a key component in the athletes preparation, the importance of mental conditioning and preparation should not be forgotten, especially the level of mental condition that can be achieved through the practice of meditation.
Meditation has been demonstrated as an effective practice by the world’s best athletes including Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Olympic gold medal-winning volleyball players Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh.
This makes complete sense when you consider the fact that the mind influences the way we move, behave, and perform on even the most subtle levels. The best athletes understand that their talent and skills won’t measure up if they aren’t mentally prepared come game day.
BENEFITS OF MEDITATION:
REDUCES STRESS LEVELS
Being relaxed increases the ability to remain calm under pressure and also improves alertness. Emotional stimulation can abstruct the athletes focus and the physical functioning of their body, which will often lead to a less than desirable result.
A study reveals that heightened stress levels lead to increased muscle tension and a delay in response time.
A recent study published in the journal of health psychology showed that the results of meditation are typically associated with reduced stress levels in addition to decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This means that distraction or emotional turbulence can be set aside, enabling the athlete to focus on a sharp performance.
IMPROVES QUALITY OF SLEEP
Sleep is the most important part of any physical work as this is when the body recovers and the mind can rest. Many athletes do not not get as much sleep as they should due to aches, pains, and high levels of stress. A lack of sleep has been shown to cause weight gain, negatively affect athletic performance, and result in an inability to focus. It can even lead to depression.
Athletes who are able to sleep better at night have been shown to perform better and experience better overall health. Improved quality and length of sleep are just another one of the great benefits of meditation.
BOOST ATHLETIC ENERGY AND ENDURANCE
The most common factor when it comes to low energy is mental exertion. Even if the athlete is not performing any physical work, you can be sure that their mind is always at work trying to figure out something. This leads to higher levels of activity, hence requirement of more energy takes place.
By practicing meditation that utilizes visualization, athletic endurance can be greatly improved. Athletes who visualize accomplishing a specific goal, combined with the practice of deep breathing can help to train the body to work harder and for a longer period of time.
IMPROVING SENSE OF IDENTITY, SELF, AND THE BODY
Meditation in sports can help athletes conquer those common “blind spots” that tend to make performance challenges seem worse than they actually are. These blind spots negatively impact performance and meditation helps you recognize your blind spots. By recognizing these blind spots, you can work on improving your physical/mental training, skills, and coping mechanisms. Furthermore, the meditator learns to enhance awareness of each muscle, which can help pinpoint an injury and prevent further damage. Finally, meditation and sport can greatly improve the mind-muscle connection, allowing you to discover your optimal zone of performance.
Meditation in sports is not only helpful for performance, but can also aid athletes who experiences anxiety, depression and other mental health illness. The practice can help athletes through injury, as well as overcome challenges such as the transition back into sport or out of sport.