Mindfulness Exercises for Sports

If you are into sports, individual or team games, these mindfulness exercises for sports will help you to change the game and win. 

“Be self aware, rather than a repetitious robot.” – Bruce Lee

It has been scientifically proven that mindfulness can help sports. Mindfulness will help you to become aware of any negative thoughts. Notice that the key word is “be aware of” and not “block negative thoughts”. When you are aware, you know what to do.

If you would like to explore more on the scientific research about the effectiveness of mindfulness in sports, then read this article from the National Institute of Health (USA).

A key to win any game is to “be in the zone”. Some called this being in the vortex. This is a state of mind where you feel certain that you are going to achieve your target. Mindfulness helps you get into the zone.

“When I’m in the zone, I don’t think about the shot, or the wind, or the distance, or the gallery, or anything. I just pull a club and swing.” - Mark John Calcavecchia, 13-time PGA tour winner

Here is a video from the Basketball legend Kobe Bryant on how he uses mindfulness exercises for sports.

Here are few mindfulness exercises that you can use before or during sports. The purpose of each exercise is to bring your mind to the present moment and to stop being unaware.

Exercise 1

Use the environment or weather to bring your mind into the present moment.

Your mind is pre-occupied with many thoughts. What you know about the other team or other competitors and their strengths and weaknesses can negatively impact your performance in sports. 

Instead, think about the weather. Is it sunny? Is it cold, warm, or windy? Be aware of the weather.  Are you fully in the present moment? Then be aware of thoughts going through your mind. It doesn’t matter whether they are good or bad. Then focus on what you want to achieve.

Exercise 2

Reset frequently. 

What do I mean by that? 

Start all over again in your mind. Forget what happened up to that point. Think that the game is starting right now. And do this frequently during the game.

This is a good mindfulness exercise for sports to practice in the middle of the game. Especially when things are not going well. 

Resetting will help you to refresh your mind, bring you to the present moment and to push you to a fresh start, which will give you  hope, motivation  and help to turn the game around in your favour. 

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

Exercise 3

This mindfulness exercise can be done before or during the game. Use your mind to scan your body from head to toe. Pay attention to how each part of your body is feeling.

With practice you will be able to do this mindfulness exercise within seconds. 

There are few variations of the body scan. You can pay attention to a specific part of your body instead of scanning the whole body.

Example: Pay attention your heart beating. Or pay attention to your chest rising and falling with each breath you take.

The moment you pay attention to what’s happening to your body at that moment, you bring mindfulness to whatever sport you are involved with.

“I don’t count my sit-ups. I only start counting once it starts hurting.” -Muhammad Ali

Exercise 4

You can be creative with Mindfulness exercises for sports. In this exercise we are going to use sound as a guide. Pay attention to something you can hear. It could be a person talking, the sound of wind, cheering etc. Keep paying attention without any judgement. This will help you to be mindful of what’s happening at that moment. 

Legendary athletes who have used mindfulness exercises for sports

Almost all great athletes are using mindfulness for their success in sports. There are legends in any sport. Some of these legends have openly spoken about how they used mindfulness and meditation to become the best in the game. Here are few of them.

Michael Jordan – Basketball

Kobe Bryant - Basketball

Derek Jeter – Baseball

Joe Namath- AFL

Lionel Messi - Soccer

Cristiano Ronaldo – Soccer

Virat Kohli – Cricket

Novak Djokovic – Tennis

Conor McGregor - MMA