Meditation 101 for the athlete

I introduce to you Meditation. Calm your elated response, class is now in session.

I am always striving to take my athletes from good to great, and not just my athletes but the parents of my athletes too. They too are an essential element in creating a thriving environment for family success, wellness an health.

Having two young gremlins of my own I am now able to fully understand how crazy life can be having children. Don’t get me wrong; I would not change it for the world and I am enjoying creating sporting
Spartan’s in the guise of play but sometimes Daddy just needs a time out. That is just home life.

I’m not even taking into account managing staff, running a business, managing our athlete success path, researching for this column, managing ASP sports science sites, growing the business, making time for friends and family, house hunting and social soccer to name but a  few.

I hope you noticed I said nothing about my lovely wife; ) That’s because the last thing that I want to be adding to my list is making supper for myself. My life is probably just as fun and exciting yet chaotic as everyone else’s.

If I look at the schedule of some of our athletes, it makes my life look like child’s play and I feel for the moms and dads that have to manage these schedules.

There is just too much noise, chaos and pressure in the life of people that have to deal with this, and when you have too much on your plate this will hamper your productivity, your goals and your success plan.

I introduce to you Meditation. Calm your elated response, class is now in session.

Mediation is still relatively taboo in main stream life and you are either considered a hippy or an
earth child if you are open to it. If you had to describe someone who practices the art
of mediation, your first impression might be that of a skinny, calm-looking guy with long hair who
loves the mountain, ‘bru’.

What if I told you that some of the most influential, wealthy and respected people in the world
meditate? Would you look at meditation differently?

Take a look at these top influential people from all walks of life who mediate.
1. Oprah Winfrey
2. Deepak Chopra
3. Kobe Bryant
4. Lebron James
5. The late Steve Jobs
6. Bill Ford (grandson of Henry Ford)
7. Ellen DeGeneres

If you understand the pressure that these people have to perform under,  then you must ask the question, “What do these captains of industry see in mediation that I perhaps don’t?”

There is a lot of ongoing research that links having a greater, longer focus to detail and clearer thoughts to a massive decrease in stress levels. Just these three factors alone can take a player like Lebron James from having a good game to a great game.

Remember not long ago I mentioned that training alone won’t get you the results you seek? This is one of those moments where you need to look outside the box and add this form of practice to your arsenal of weapons to gain that extra performance you need to get the opportunities you have been working for your whole life.

The best part is that it can be done anywhere and doesn’t take a whole lot of time out of your day.

Here are 5 simple Basics of meditation 101 for athletes

  • Find a quiet place

You need to get to a place where you cannot be distracted or interrupted. A place where you can let yourself relax and be yourself. You can either lie flat on the floor, sit in a chair with feet side by side,  with posture nice and tall or you can sit on the floor, legs crossed with your hands gently resting on your thighs, palms facing up.

  • Choose your time

Set a time of 5, 10 or 20 minutes to begin with. We know you are a busy athlete but since you are a newbie, start off with a small amount of time and then build to longer periods of time such as 45 minutes.

  • Get comfy and Breathe

The first step is to get rid of the noise and tension in your body and you can do this by focusing on breathing correctly. You need to ‘belly breathe’. When you are stressed, you will shallow breathe which means you will not get as much oxygen into your lungs and blood stream as you should. As you breathe in for a count of 6 seconds let your entire belly push out, hold for two seconds and then breathe out slowly for 6 seconds again. As you breathe out, feel the tension leaving your body.

  • Block out the noise

The first time that you mediate there will be a lot of thoughts and noise flowing through your mind. The easiest way to calm the mind is to try and focus on one thing and one thing only. When you get interrupted with thoughts flooding your mind, just acknowledge them and then go back to that one focal point. Remember, everything at first is difficult but the more your practice, the easier it will become.

  • Visualise

There are dozens of ways to meditate but for an athlete, visualisation is a very powerful instrument to master. Once you have numbed the noise, I want you to focus on something that is important to you, like scoring the winning try or goal for your team in the dying minutes of the game. The secret to this process is to close your eyes and try to see every little bit of detail; from the time you set up to the brush of wind across your face, to the fans cheering your name and to the slightly dampened ball from the evenings dew on the grass. Slow down the entire process as if you were watching yourself in slow motion.

Research has proven that by visualising your kick or goal your brain can actually believe that it has scored a goal by building the necessary neuro-pathways of “how to”. Combine visualisation with lots of practice and technique and watch your accuracy soar.


Sean Van Staden

Sean Van Staden is the proud husband of an amazing woman and mom and the ‘Daddy Pig’ – (thank you Pepper Pig for brainwashing my children, in a good way) – of two little Gremlins, Jordan and Haylee, who are fast approaching three and four years of age. In his quest to give his children the tools to succeed, Sean’s blog tackles topics of nutrition, physical development, exercise, mental toughness, building confidence, self-esteem, sport, wellness, and just about anything that will help his children, and hopefully yours, grow in the right direction.

You can find Sean at ASP – Sports Science

 

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