By Madisen Carter
Playing a sport can not only be physically draining, but also mentally draining. Playing a sport can cause an athlete a lot of stress due to being pushed too hard to perform a certain way, the amount of time that is dedicated to a sport, and the outside pressure from teammates, coaches and even parents. That is why at Unlimited Potential Basketball, we push for our athletes to be mentally trained and to practice mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness has many benefits including a decrease in stress, a decrease in burnout, an increase of positive emotions, improved cognitive performance and more.
What exactly is mindfulness? According to Oxford Languages, mindfulness is “a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
At UPB, at the end of group training sessions at UPB, Coach Packie Turner goes over the MVP’s: Meditation, Visualization, Positive Self Talk.
“Like anything in life, it begins with your mindset. With what you believe to be true. If you have self doubt, you will hesitate in [the] game. We work to not only sharpen your physical tools but also your mental tools to allow you to fully trust your work and stop listening to the old stories in our head as to why we cannot do something,” Coach Packie said. “Going straight from repping it physically, to getting mental reps of it, is huge. Seeing yourself have success with it in your mind isn’t an easy thing, but in order to make the jump we all hope to make it is necessary.”
There are many things that you can do to let the mind fully focus on and appreciate what is happening around you. Here are five that you can start adding to your daily routine today:
1. Start your day off with a purpose
When you wake up in the morning and before checking your social media accounts, text messages or emails, take the time to set a goal for the day. You can start this process off by sitting up straight at your bed and taking deep, long breaths in and out multiple times while focusing on your breathing. While doing this, take the time to think about what you would like to accomplish for the day and set your goal. Throughout the day, you can refer back to that goal and check on how far you have progressed towards that goal.
Take time to focus on the present moment. When you sit down to meditate and your mind wanders off, that is okay. Just take a moment and bring your focus back on to your breathing, how you are feeling mentally and how your body feels physically. Meditating for just ten minutes is enough to help relieve stress and clear your thoughts.
Journaling is beneficial to reflect on your thoughts and get you in a relaxed state of mind. In your journal you can write down things you are grateful for, something you did that day, goals, etc.
4. Spend time outside in nature
There are many different activities you can do outside to practice mindfulness. You can go for a walk, run, bike ride, car ride or even take your meditation time outside. During those activities, you do not want to have an agenda, you want to have an open mind and focus on what is going around you. Focus on your legs and feet, the weather, the sounds around you.
5. Have a healthy diet
Having a healthy diet and eating nutritional foods will fuel your body and give you boosts of energy. Eat when your body tells you it wants to eat, not when your emotions do, and take time just to eat, try not to eat while doing other things as this can distract you. When you eat, focus on how that food makes you feel in the moment, listen to your body when you feel you are full, and take time to think about where the food you are eating comes from.
Smith has been with UPB for a few weeks now and is helping with group training and private training. He said he has enjoyed seeing the variety of different athletes that come into the gym from division I college basketball players all the way down to three year olds. He said group training has been his favorite part so far, being able to interact with a lot of different athletes and helping them improve throughout the sessions.