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Posted in: High Performance Coaching

Mindfulness, has it a place in sport?

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  • Nollzer

    Has anyone used a Mindfullness programme with their athletes or in a team sport setting. What were the benefits, pitfalls or difficulties encountered?

  • cchapman

    Hi Val,

    I have used Mindfulness within a talent development and performance setting (team sport).  It was introduced through a inter-disciplinary approach using 'the difference' (performance edge) and 'be the best you can be'.  Different staff were responsible for modeling, promoting and delivering aspects of mindfulness and this was referred to within wider team sessions and meetings.

    With adolescent males we initiated this through recovery and the use of relaxation techniques, developing this to 'armchair mediation'.  The approach was reinforced through mental skill sessions (Meditation, Imagery and Affirmations).  The coaches used the 'blue and red head' approach made famous by the All Blacks on areas including 'performance reset', thinking clearly under pressure and controlling the controllables.

    With the senior team this was offered to the players and they opted to engage with this as part of their personal preparation phase.  We used an app for these players and more structured sessions with the whole team using 'the difference' in preparation, pre-performance routines, and priming team sessions.

    What I would say is that it is more than just give it a go, its easy to stop (especially with players who take sometime to 'buy in') and focus on what it brings to their performance.  The younger players saw it as fun and we continued to push forward and acknowledged their 'skepticism' with a 'if you don't try, you won't know... it could be the advantage you are looking for.

    The senior players was very different and we worked and supported those who identified this in their IDP and as the benefits spread through conversations the number accessing this increased.

    Hope this helps!


  • Nollzer

    What type of Mindfullness techniques proved effective, body scan, breathing ? 

    Was if John Kabat Zing guided Mindfullness tapes etc.?

    what duration and frequency proved effective?

    Any other observations?

    I have a followed a great free Mindfullness resource in MBSR in paulosemindullness.com. Wort looking at.

  • cchapman

    Hi Val,

    As the whole process was integral to the environment we didn't monitor specific durations or frequency.  We constantly reinforced in sessions and the DTE and used teachable moments, gradually increasing the number of informal sessions/opportunities over formal sessions.

    Individuals responded at different rates, as you would expect,  those who had a need or desire to improve this area were early adopters and reported a greater benefit.  As with all interventions, some found it more beneficial than others.

    We didn't follow a programme as such but applied a number of principles from mindfulness.  We started with the body scan, used centring, visualisation, relaxation techniques (chair and changing room based).  We used the coaching teams experience over a number of years, support from sports Psychologist (mainly coach support over intervention, ideas adapted from research, aspects picked up from podcasts, discussions with experts and a lot of 'lets try this'.

    We took the approach (as we did with all aspects of our programmes) that a integrated and inter-disciplinary approach works best.  The use of positive approach and high energy from the staff.  

    Sorry, its no a straightforward answer, but that's performance coaching.  Thanks for the recommendation I will take a look.

    Yours in Coaching


  • grahamt

    Hi Val

    I've used mindfulness both in my own sporting endeavours and with the athletes I coach (triathlon / Ironman). I have found that mindfulness is an integral part of preparing these athletes to overcome the difficulties that longer endurance sport presents as it can otherwise be overwhelming to think of the distances that need to be covered.

    A positive spin off is that using mindfulness you can get the athlete to focus on their technique which in turn pays physical benefits through reduced fatigue and a lowered chance of injury.



  • mark.joyce

    I am looking into methods to improve my athletics focus would mindfulness be an ideal tool for this? The sport I coach is shooting specifically 10 metre where he shoots 60 shots. His problem is that he loses concentration , at the moment I am altering his routine to see if this will be about a change and better consistency.  Its work in progress but having never come across this subject (mindfulness) in any great detail before just wondered where to start and where to go to read up on it?

  • cchapman

    Hi Mark,

    I mentioned a few starting points in my initial response.

    The NHS website is a great starting point to explore mindfulness  http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/mindfulness.aspx

    The Headspace App is a great starting point for you athlete, they have mini learning videos and a free ten day trial to help people to develop the approach and techniques


    Another app I have used personally is Peak which has a number of focus and concentration activities in the form of tasks and games


    Hope they help :-)


  • mark.joyce

    Hi Chris

    You have certainly given me a lot to think about, I have had a quick look at the sites you have suggested  and will be going back to them for a more detailed look

    Many thanks.


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