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Meditation For Athletes: Improving Sports Performance Through Mindfulness and Meditation

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In 1993, the Chicago Bulls, led by Michael Jordan, did something that hadn’t been done in over three decades—they won three consecutive NBA championships. Worried about the weight of expectation that his team would carry into the next season, head coach Phil Jackson enlisted the help of an expert. You may be surprised to find out who answered the call. 

This article explores how specific meditation and mindfulness techniques can give athletes an edge over their competition. As you read, you will find that the methods and lessons shared throughout are by no means limited to the court or field. 

“Concentration and mental toughness are the margins of victory”—Bill Russel.

What Is Mental Toughness?

Mental toughness is the ability to stay focused in the face of distraction. And athletes face a lot of distractions. But it’s not always the taunting crowd and external noises that throw even the best of them off their game. It’s the internal noise of the mind that can be more deafening. 

Athletes live in states of anxiety, knowing that one career-ending injury could change everything. They don’t know when they’ll play, how they’ll play or if they’ll be traded or replaced. So, great athletes learn how to get comfortable with being uncomfortable—how to walk through anxiety and not let it dictate their nervous system. Because between stimulus and response is the calm centre, or as George Mumford calls it, the eye of the hurricane. It’s in that space where time slows down, and you can make the most wise and compassionate decision. 

Enter mindfulness.

George Mumford And His Mindfulness Work With The Greatest Athletes

Meditation is a form of mindfulness. And mindfulness is as simple as sitting and breathing and knowing it. That’s enough.  So, who is George Mumford? He is a mindfulness and performance expert who, In his own words, has worked from Yale to jail and from the locker room to the boardroom. He’s the author of “Unlocked: Embrace Your Greatness, Find The Flow, Discover Success” and “The Mindful Athlete: Secrets To Pure Performance.” Most notably, George is known for working with Phil Jackon, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls team to help them manage the stress and expectations of winning three years in a row.  The Chicago Bulls went on to win three more straight championships with the support and guidance of George Mumford and his lessons and techniques using mindfulness to embrace greatness. 

How Can Breathwork Help Athletic Performance?

Breathwork helps to align the whole being—mind, body, heart, spirit, and soul. One breath, one mind, one team. George’s work with athletes, teams, and businesses creates synergy. When many minds become one, you’ve got community or harmony. 

People and teams can become flow-ready by combining mindfulness, diligence, insight, and steadiness of mind. But if you try to find the flow spaces, you won’t get there. The best way to find yourself is to forget yourself.

George believes that there is a space between stimulus and response. In that space, we have the ability to turn a crisis into an opportunity if we’re equipped with the skills. 

What Are the Benefits Of Meditation For Athletes And Elite Performers?

Meditation is an important piece of the puzzle. Through meditation, you combine mindfulness, diligence, insight, and steadiness of mind, which helps you become flow-ready. Everyone, including you, professional athletes, and elite performers, may experience the following:

  • Enhanced concentration: Meditation helps athletes develop better focus and concentration, essential for staying present and performing at their best during sports activities.
  • Stress reduction: Athletes often face high levels of stress and pressure, which can negatively impact their performance. Meditation provides a powerful tool for managing stress and promoting relaxation, leading to improved performance on the field.
  • Improved resilience: Meditation cultivates inner strength and resilience, enabling athletes to bounce back from setbacks and challenges more effectively. This mental resilience is crucial for maintaining motivation and pushing through difficult situations.
  • Better sleep: Quality sleep is essential for athletes’ recovery and performance. Meditation can improve sleep quality, helping athletes get the rest they need to perform at their best.


Mental Mastery: The Hidden Edge in Sports Through Meditation

As demonstrated by the legendary Chicago Bulls, under Phil Jackson’s guidance and with George Mumford’s expertise, the integration of these practices has the power to redefine the boundaries of athletic performance.

This holistic approach cultivates peak performance and nurtures a deeper sense of well-being, proving that the true victory lies in mastering the mind.

About the author
Picture of Gabe Fontana

Gabe Fontana

A freelance writer who strives for clarity, brevity, and humanity. He takes complex topics and make them approachable and fun to read. Find him online at www.fontanacopy.com to view the breadth of his work.

Gabe Fontana

A freelance writer who strives for clarity, brevity, and humanity. He takes complex topics and make them approachable and fun to read. Find him online at www.fontanacopy.com to view the breadth of his work.

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