Mindful Influence ~ Creating conscious moments

Kari Estrada

The Mental Side of Sport


Throughout my life I have been an athlete or a coach in a couple of different sports.  In each sport, I was always exposed to visualization and mindfulness training.  In today’s society, mindfulness practice is becoming a normal part of training for almost any sport.  Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Derek Jeter, and Ricky Williams are all pro-athletes.  What do they all have in common…MINDFULNESS!  Sport committees and organizations around the world hire sports psychologists that utilize mindfulness with athletes on a daily basis.  Teams and coaches participate in group meditations to embrace the mind-body concept to produce better athletes.

Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement (MSPE) was developed by Keith Kaufman and Carol Glass in 2006.  Their research examined how various types of applied mindfulness are related to sport anxiety, self-efficacy, and flow in athletes.  This can be applicable to any sport.  It is introduced over a four to eight week time period and includes the following mindfulness exercises:

  • Mindful Eating
  • Sitting Meditation
  • Body Scan
  • Hatha Yoga
  • Walking Meditation
  • Specific Sport Meditation

Once learned, mindfulness can be applied to the physical side of the sport.  It can drive athletes “into the zone” or what Mihály Csíkszentmihályi proposes as a “flow state”.

            Flow is completely focused motivation. It is a single-minded immersion and represents perhaps the ultimate experience in harnessing the emotions in the service of performing and learning. In flow, the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand. To be caught in the ennui of depression or the agitation of anxiety is to be barred from flow. The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task although flow is also described as a deep focus on nothing but the activity – not even oneself or one’s emotions. (Wikipedia)


The following are benefits that athletes have achieved through the practice of mindfulness:

  • Mind-Body Concept
  • Increased Positivity
  • Prevention of Burn-Out or Injury
  • Improved Focus and Concentration
  • Skill Mastery
  • Awareness of the Present Moment During Performance
  • Increased Self Confidence
  • Clarity
  • Ability to Make Better Decisions Under Pressure

What other benefits do you believe athletes gain from practicing mindfulness?  Do you believe that incorporating mindfulness into sports will lead to better performing athletes?

[Photo Credit]


Author: Kari Estrada

Hi, my name is Kari Estrada. I grew up in Anchorage, Alaska where I earned my BBA in Accounting from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. In 2005 I moved to Reno, Nevada. I married my best friend and am currently a stay-at-home Mom to my two beautiful children. I am pursuing my MBA from the University of Nevada, Reno. My purpose is to educate others about mindfulness and how it can influence our lives. Practicing mindfulness allows me to grow and learn each day. It guides me to be in the present moment, to trust the journey of each day, and to create positive experiences. Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences when reading my blog.

2 thoughts on “The Mental Side of Sport

  1. I am reading The Rise of Superman by Steven Kotler right now and it is about exactly this, only in extreme sports athletes. I have been fortunate enough to live in a community where action sports are at the base of the local economy, which then results in tourism. I have met many people who are in flow regularly, they are some of the happiest, dedicated, hard working and inspiring people.. and they are fun to be around! 🙂

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