Mindfulness in performance sport

Sometimes the subject of mindfulness seems to be like a tidal wave.

We encounter mindfulness in all walks of life such as management, leadership, health rehabilitation, eating ... and now in performance sport. In my work with Olympic and Paralympic athletes I use mindfulness very extensively to help my clients to achieve their optimum performance.

It is easy to describe what mindfulness is: awareness of what is happening when it is happening. However, it is not so easy to maintain attention of ‘here and now’ – this requires constant practice. You may ask why it is important to be mindful in sport and focus attention on the present. The answer to this question lies in controlling emotions such as anxiety.

Athletes, like any human beings, feel anxiety in extreme situations when our minds start creating unrealistic scenarios of perhaps winning or losing. In the heat of the battle these kind of thoughts can be very distracting for the purpose of the competition itself. That is where mindfulness and awareness of the present moment can be very beneficial and helpful for the athletes to bring their attention to the present moment and re-focus on the purpose of the competition, their tasks, decisions, etc.

In performance sport pressure is high and expectations sometimes can be unrealistic. The self-critique in athletes can become too loud and overwhelming. Mindfulness skills help athletes to refocus their attention on the present, accept good and bad in the same way and carry on with the competition without being dragged into detrimental thinking of undisciplined mind.

Anyone can use mindfulness in improving any kind of performance in your hobby or in your work. The key to it is practice and a kind attitude towards oneself.

On May 18 and May 25, 2017, Misha delivered a two-part introduction to mindfulness as part of the Performance LIVE! series on the sportscotland Facebook page.

Catch up on Part I and Part II and send us your thoughts in the comments section either on Facebook or at the bottom of this page.  

Date published: 28 June 2023
Date updated: 28 June 2023


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