TECHNIQUES FROM THE PROS
Athletes, you need a mental toolbox. You need to have a wide-range of different mental techniques to help you excel and fufill your potential. Did you read that? Fufill your potential. This ain’t something to mess around with. Let’s get your mind right. You're in charge of training your craft, your mental regime, and working to not leave anything up to chance.
Former linebacker and TBC fan, Shawne Merriman, believes that mindfulness is one of the best predictors for success in the NFL. Merriman stated, “there’s no doubt that it impacts your performance on the field” and that it is something that is accessible to everyone; therefore, differentiating between those and we’ll leave it up to you to decide the name for the opposing group.
The mental game of any sport also changes with time - little league → high school → college → pro. The mental game matches where you are in life and the difficulty / intensity of the sport. It helps to meet you where you were, where you are, and where you can be.
Here are 5 mindful techniques to add to your mental toolbox used by professional athletes. Whether you’re on the field, in the ring, on the mats, you name it. If you are wanting to fufill your potential, it might be in your best interest to give these a try.
Learning more about yourself includes growing your inner and outer awareness. These emotional states and knowledge are able to carry through in your performance. Knowing yourself is a fundamental tool that requires a profound understanding of who you are in a variety of states. This is important because it allows you to navigate how you are in every circumstance as well as tapping into your confidence.
Evaluate and Control
Just like using mental awareness and knowing yourself, learning how to properly process information can help everyone perform their best. Think about that. Being able to pull yourself back from any situation and or emotional state is the game changer. In order to harness a sense of control in addition on to mental awareness, evaluate what could potentially impact your game. This doesn’t mean going down a downward spiral and to cause yourself a panic attack. It’s called preparation. Expect how a situation will play out, evaluate how you may feel as a result, and end the note with what you can control.
Yogis and boxers are incredible with controlling their breath, but it is an underestimated tool that could benefit any type of athlete. Breath is the gas that keeps our engines running. It’s all about learning the different types of breath and when / how to use them. Breath can help with your emotions, your physical state from anxiety as well as improve blood flow muscles, and overall control. A solid breath technique to use is:
1.Relax the upper body, including shoulders and face.
2.Take a breath in and count to four.
3.Exhale out through your mouth as though you’re blowing bubbles for a count of 6.
Side note: This doesn’t have to be extreme. You can do it without people noticing.
Imagine you’re in a busy office and have a long list of to-dos. Now imagine a stadium full of people with so many different ways of pulling your direction. This strategy used by pro athletes is all about focus and ultimately, re-focus. It’s all about directing to a single-focus or task.
Sit somewhere quietly and comfortably. Focus on your breath again: the inhale (pause), the exhale (pause). When your mind wanders, refocus and try to spend four seconds on each segment of breath. After you’ve done this in a quiet space, try it in a more noisy state. Keep this going in increments from 5 to 20 minutes as you become more of a pro!
If you believe in mantras, great. If you don’t, here’s some reasons you may want to consider. Mantras help to tie in all of the previous techniques. It is a great way to keep the mind and body connected with an ultimate focus on the present. It ties in being aware of what is important to you and what you need. It is a simple act that can create a massive impact.
February 17, 2021