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Wake Up To The Power Of One

5 Ways Using Mindfulness Will Level Up your Game

You’ve spent a lot of time preparing your body for the big game, but what about training your mind? Studies have demonstrated that your mindset is an absolute game changer when unleashing your full potential. In fact, when we step onto the field, we’re playing two games: one external and one internal. Both make up peak performance, and only when you master both can you level up your game.

On the fence about whether focusing on your internal game is worthwhile? Here are five ways using mindfulness will level up your game.

"My sports made me a more focused, sharper, more determined and stronger person than I was before. It's a mental game — the stronger you are, the better you are." — Kiran Khan, Olympic swimmer

Here Are The Top 5 Ways Mindfulness Can Improve Your Athletic Performance. 

It reduces performance anxiety and lowers pre-game stress. 

Studies have shown that mindfulness interventions decrease the amount of cortisol (one of our main stress hormones) in athletes’ saliva before a big game. This means they’ll be able to slow down, think about the play, and perform better when their mind is clear, than if their systems are pumped full of adrenaline.

It can boost your immune system.

Less stress, whether performance-induced or otherwise, will benefit you in the long run. Studies have shown that meditation and other mindfulness practices help boost your immune system, which is excellent news for athletes. A more robust immune system means fewer sick days. And, as per our Law of Compound Gains, an extra day of training will benefit you greatly over time, even if it’s a small one.

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It allows you to focus on the moment.

Speaking of a clear mind, there’s nothing more important than being mentally in the present. If you’re focused on the pressure of winning, your past mistakes, or how you measure up to the other athletes, you’re going to hijack your own performance and choke.

In this study, after a period of mindfulness training, researchers found that athletes could move into a flow state with ease and identify thoughts such as “I won’t be able to finish this race” as a thought and not an absolute truth.

How important is staying in the moment? Here’s a clip of Kobe Bryant giving a speech to a team about how your mind can betray your performance if you ruminate on mistakes and don’t stay present.

It teaches you to let things go.

Part of being in the moment is learning to let things go. Pressure, performance issues that haunt you, game-time mistakes, and even unexpected conditions can throw you off your game. When you practice mindfulness, you’ll be able to identify those creeping thoughts, stressors, and emotions and then let them go, bringing you back to — you guessed it — the moment that matters. The same goes for unexpected conditions for us outdoor athletes. Will that sudden wind affect your shot? Notice it, adjust, and keep doing what you know how to do.

We often create our own mountains to climb when really, we’re already standing on top.

It can increase your pain tolerance.

You read that right — mindfulness can lead to higher pain tolerance, or at least accepting your pain and continuing despite it. This study showed that runners “with a high level of mindfulness could have awareness of their pain without judging it, allowing them to accept the experience of it” and keep going. The same study also showed that those who used mindfulness had longer exhaustion times. This means if you start incorporating mindfulness into your training regime, you’ll be able to do the physical part of your training longer, leading to bigger gains and leveling up your performance.

Remember, mindfulness is a skill, just like your sport is. Start small, and work your way up to including mindfulness in your key athletic moments. Our first activity of choice? A deep stretch with meditation. It’s the perfect moment to incorporate mindfulness into something you already do after a grueling training day. You’ll learn to focus on different parts of your body, how to breathe more deeply, and become aware of your thoughts. Here are a few other basic mindfulness activities that are easy to incorporate into your day to get you started.

Multitasking is seriously overrated. Try to do one task at a time and learn to do it with more intentionality.” Gareth J. Mole

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