Mindfulness Exercises and Recovery After Athletic Performance
Golf. Basketball. Softball. Soccer. Many athletes, no matter the sport, have times when they make mistakes in the middle of a game and need to refocus and recover quickly. This is where mindfulness exercises can enhance recovery.
Mindfulness Exercise: Admit the Mistake
First, quickly admit to yourself you made the mistake. You did it, you know it. Put awareness steps into practice immediately. The more an athlete resists or has a mental dialogue about the mistake the greater the chance that he or she will remain unfocused and unaware in the present moment.
Has anyone ever said to you “great job” or “it’s okay” after you have made a mistake while playing? If yes, many athletes will say they dislike this comment because they don’t feel okay immediately. Admitting it cuts through this. It’s fast, it’s true, and you can believe it.
Mindfulness Exercise:Shifting Your Awareness
Second, shift your awareness back to the present moment. The mistake will be in the past very fast. If your thoughts stay on the mistake you might become angry or critical of the mistake or yourself for being negative.
This takes your focus away from your ongoing situation or your next shot. Your focus is split. This is when many athletes have a follow-up mistake such as trying too hard. Tell yourself to “switch” or even use the word W.I.N. as a mental strategy.
WIN as coined by Lou Holtz simply means What is Important Now? Answer: NOW, the present moment. Review the mistake when you’re done competing. You can say WIN over and over to help make the switch to a more mindful, present time focus.
If you are playing golf you might be able to give yourself a minute of being mad. Use a timed one minute strategy. Designate a tree or a marker as you walk the fairway, and as you walk past imagine crossing the line and your focus is totally with you now. Runners and triathletes can do the same.
Actions that Might Help
Third, small active steps to be engaged in the present moment are important. These can include doing a pre-shot routine, or having a moment to focus on your breath, making sure it is a good rhythm. Many athletes breathe fast or feel their heart racing after a mistake or when they are getting upset about the mistake. Know this. It’s common but have a strategy to help yourself to get back to a good pace or rhythm that fits the situation. Learn to channel this energy such as turning anger into determination. It’s a moment of making a choice.
For more information on mindfulness and performance click here.