Sports

"Training does not deal with an object, but with the human spirit and human emotions."

Bruce Lee

Un/a deportista de alta competición afronta situaciones determinantes: como lanzar un penalti o unos tiros libres en una final, o ejecutar un salto o un descenso en los juegos olímpicos. No es de extrañar que en estos momentos cruciales la tasa cardíaca aumente, las palmas de las manos transpiren más de lo esperado, la atención se disperse y los músculos se tensen.

These physiological processes respond to the thoughts and emotions we generate, which are related to possible mistakes, the perception of pressure from the public, our family, peers and sponsors, not to mention our own personal expectations.

These obstacles do not only appear at definitive moments, but we have to deal with them before, during and after competitions. Example of these invasive thoughts could be: "You never beat him/her before, this time will be no different" "He/she is too good" "Everything is going from bad to worse".

This state of tension and doubt can make the difference between gold and bronze, or between being able to reach the championship title or being left at the gates of the final.

Since the mental and emotional aspect is so important in the athlete's performance (it is said that up to 90%), it is important to take care of this aspect. So that during the match or performance, and especially in those crucial moments, the athlete knows how to generate a state in which the comfort, well-being and confidence that he/she experiences in his/her best training sessions or competitions predominate. So that he/she can obtain the maximum performance as a strategist, and of his/her psychomotor ability.

Mindfulness, Flow, “The Zone”

In the world of high performance training we have long encountered the terms Flow and "The zone". Sometimes we have heard an athlete refer to "good feelings". These terms are related to this expression.

The state of Flow described by Cziksezentmihalyi (1990) is defined as a state of consciousness in which the person is totally absorbed in his/her actions and experiences his/her mind and body as a unit. This state derives from the balance perceived by the athlete between the challenge he/she faces and his/her ability to meet it. In this state, you are so present that you lose track of time. You experience a great sense of control and a great confidence in your mastery, you know exactly what you need to do in each moment and how to do it perfectly, imprinting your personal style. You are enjoying your favorite sport so much that your whole being is involved in its practice.

Being in "the zone" refers to being in an optimal psychophysiological state to achieve excellent performance. We can say that if you are in "the zone", you are very conducive to develop a fluid performance (Flow).

Flow and Mindfulness share attributes and practically refer to the same state. There is much research that has found clear relationships between measures of mindfulness and flow (Bernier, Thienot, Codron, & Fournier, 2009; Pineau, Glass, Kaufman, Tenuta, & Bernal, 2011). Flow is related to self-transcendence, but rather than a mystical experience that appears if we are lucky, it is a psychological state that we can recognize and evoke by practicing Mindfulness (Aherne, Moran, & Londsdale, 2011; Gardner & Moore, 2004; Kee & Wang, 2008).

Process

In the past, Sport Psychology has placed great emphasis on the internal dialogue of the athlete and the production of positive affirmations. Nowadays we are becoming aware that ignoring negative thoughts or trying to stop them can have a counterproductive impact: we are indirectly feeding them, making them more frequent or intense (Hayes, Luoma, Bond, Masuda, & Lillis, 2006; Janelle, 1999; Wegner, 1994). At the same time, by trying to avoid or substitute them we are detracting attention from the task at hand. However, simply becoming aware of the inner and internal reality and accepting it not only reduces the flow of thoughts, but prevents us from being swept away by them. So we get a more fluid and intuitive performance. By reducing the intellectual aspect, the spontaneous (the masterful execution with which the athlete is familiar) emerges.

Athletes, teams and programs

In the past, Sport Psychology has placed great emphasis on the internal dialogue of the athlete and the production of positive affirmations. Nowadays we are becoming aware that ignoring negative thoughts or trying to stop them can have a counterproductive impact: we are indirectly feeding them, making them more frequent or intense (Hayes, Luoma, Bond, Masuda, & Lillis, 2006; Janelle, 1999; Wegner, 1994). At the same time, by trying to avoid or substitute them we are detracting attention from the task at hand. However, simply becoming aware of the inner and internal reality and accepting it not only reduces the flow of thoughts, but prevents us from being swept away by them. So we get a more fluid and intuitive performance. By reducing the intellectual aspect, the spontaneous (the masterful execution with which the athlete is familiar) emerges.

Benefits

Some of the advantages that an athlete or team can gain from Mindfulness training are:

Increased sense of happiness and satisfaction. Generation of positive emotions and pleasurable sensations.

Increased awareness of external conditions (wind, position, etc.) and internal conditions (tension in unnecessary muscles, intrusive thoughts, anxiety...).

Improve focus, concentration and discrimination of relevant signals.

Less emotional reactivity. Reduces cortisol production (stress) before and during competition.

Great source of internal energy. Reduces sensitivity to pain. Enhances endurance.

Enhances mental clarity, improving decision making and creativity in the game.

Promotes optimal physical functioning. Better rest and relaxation.

Promotes intimacy, effective communication and good relationships among teammates.

Approach

Many times the world of sports competition can lead to the athlete being treated as a means to obtain a certain result or prize. I am not talking exclusively about external subjugation but about the treatment that the athlete inflicts on him/herself. After all, many sports are considered a game (basketball, soccer, golf, tennis...). If competition takes away the playfulness and pleasure, we lose the most important thing that a sport can offer us. In fact, there is empirical evidence suggesting that the enjoyment of participating in a sport is a key factor in maintaining sporting success (McCarthy & Jones, 2007; Scanlan, Russell, Beals, & Scanlan, 2003).

The meditative practice brings ethics and rootedness in the highest values of the human being, which ultimately are the true motivators for the athlete. It provides a great value not only on the court or the playing field, but in all other aspects of life.

Likewise, the psychotherapeutic basis we apply in group work fosters what any team aims for: developing a close relationship. Awareness, trust and support are by-products of our Mindfulness training.

Many times the world of sports competition can lead to the athlete being treated as a means to obtain a certain result or prize. I am not talking exclusively about external subjugation but about the treatment that the athlete inflicts on him/herself. After all, many sports are considered a game (basketball, soccer, golf, tennis...). If competition takes away the playfulness and pleasure, we lose the most important thing that a sport can offer us. In fact, there is empirical evidence suggesting that the enjoyment of participating in a sport is a key factor in maintaining sporting success (McCarthy & Jones, 2007; Scanlan, Russell, Beals, & Scanlan, 2003).

The meditative practice brings ethics and rootedness in the highest values of the human being, which ultimately are the true motivators for the athlete. It provides a great value not only on the court or the playing field, but in all other aspects of life.

Likewise, the psychotherapeutic basis we apply in group work fosters what any team aims for: developing a close relationship. Awareness, trust and support are by-products of our Mindfulness training.

Services

Our Mindfulness training can be focused on athletes, teams, coaches, sports organizations (federations), High Performance Schools and sports medical staff, as it is a great tool in the recovery process of injuries.

The purpose of the course is that the participant becomes familiar with the state of Full Consciousness, and knows how to evoke it, adapting it to his or her sport modality.

Training for your federation, team or for yourself as an athlete.

11 + 4 =

Referencias Bibliográficas

Aherne, C., Moran, A.P., & Lonsdale, C. (2011). The effect of mindfulness training on athletes' flow: An initial investigation. The Sport Psychologist, 25, 177-189.

Baltzell, A., & Akhtar, V. L. V. (2012). Mindfulness Meditation Training for Sport (MMTS) intervention: Impact of MMTS with Division I female athletes. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Bernier, M., Thienot, E., Codron, R., & Fournier, J. F. (2009). Mindfulness and acceptance approaches in sport performance. Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology, 4, 320-333.

Csikszentmihalyi,M. (1990). Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, New York, Harper & Row.

Gardner, F. L., & Moore, Z. E. (2004). A mindfulness-acceptance-commitment-based approach to athletic performance enhancement: Theoretical considerations. Behavior Therapy, 35, 707-723.

Hayes, S.C., Luoma, J.B., Bond, F.W., Masuda, A. and Lillis, J. (2006) Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: Models, Processes and Outcomes. Behavior Research and Therapy, 44, 1-25.

Jackson, S. A. (1996). Toward a conceptual understanding of the flow experience in elite athletes. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 67 (1), 76-90.

Janelle,C.M. (1999). Ironic mental processes in sport: Implications for Sports Psychologists. The Sports Psychologist, 13 201-220.

Kaufman, K. A., Glass, C. R., & Arnkoff, D. B. (2009). Evaluation of Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement (MSPE): A new approach to promote flow in athletes. Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology, 4, 334-356.

Kee, Y. H., & Wang, C. K. J. (2008). Relationships between mindfulness, flow dispositions and mental skills adoption: A cluster analytic approach. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 9, 393-411.

McCarthy, P. J. & Jones, M. V. (2007). A qualitative study of sport enjoyment in the sampling years. The Sport Psychologist, 21, 400-416.

Pineau, T. R., Glass, C. R., Kaufman, K. A., Tenuta, C. K. & Bernal, D. R. (2011). Self and team efficacy beliefs of rowers and their relation to mindfulness and flow. American Psychological Association, Washington, DC.

Scanlan, T. K., Russell, D. G., Beals, K. P., & Scanlan, L. A. (2003). Project on Elite Athlete Commitment (PEAK): II. A direct test and expansion of the Sport Commitment Model with elite amateur sportsmen. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 25, 377-401.

Wegner, D. M. (1994). Ironic processes of mental control. Psychological Review, 101, 34-52. doi:10.1037/0033- 295X.101.1.34.