Meditation for Athletes.

Russell Wilson rocks. The Seattle Seahawks use meditation as part of their season long conditioning.
Super Bowl QB Russell Wilson. The Seattle Seahawks use meditation as part of their season long conditioning program. Interesting…

Meditation?  Seriously? I know what you’re thinking, but yes, seriously I am going to talk about meditation for athletes. I consider myself to be a very practical person so my approach to yoga has always been from a real world perspective.  Meditation has always seemed like a bunch of new age hokum.

OK, so I was wrong, it happens. The important thing is I have come around and now understand a regular meditation practice has very tangible physical and mental benefits. Specifically for athletes who are used to being cranked up for competition, it is necessary to stimulate the para-sympathetic nervous system to ground them or eventually they are going to find their tank is empty. Meditation also helps gain control over the breath which can be vitally important when hand-eye control is required like making a free throw, catching a pass or throwing a strike.

Finally, I can’t really explain why, but meditation helps athletes find  and maintain occupancy in “the zone.”  You know “the zone,”  that phenomena when the goal or basket seems to be a mile wide, or your opponents seem to be moving in slow motion.  All athletes seek time in the zone and meditation can help get them there.

At this point,  you are convinced I am right,  and can’t wait to get started.  Right…   I know that look,  I’ve cracked tougher nuts than you.  Just try this short “focus exercise” for five days in a row. If you hate it, give up, go ahead you big quitter. (Dropping some old school coaching on you there).  Really, just try it I sincerely believe you will find it beneficial.

First, sit in a comfortable, semi-quiet place.  A car is a great place to start.  Close your eyes and just settle in. Don’t try to control anything, just sit there letting your thoughts bounce around.  Feel free to think this is stupid if you want, I know I did when I first started.

After about a minute, start to take control of your breath. Inhale, counting 1-2-3  pause, then exhale 1-2-3. Try to visualize the actual numbers 1-2-3 in your mind’s eye as you breath. Do 10 rounds of this 3/3 breath pattern.

After the 3/3  breath pattern you are going to start lengthening you exhales.  Continue counting, this time inhaling 1-2-3-4 pause, then exhale 1-2-3-4-5-6 pause, and repeat this 4/6 pattern for 10 rounds.

After the 4/6 breath, come back to an even 5/5 breath.  Inhale 1-2-3-4-5 pause, exhale 1-2-3-4-5 pause.  Repeat this 5/5 pattern for 10 rounds. Don’t be surprised if you find this a little exhausting, it can be at first.

After you complete the 5/5 breath pattern, just let your breath go back to normal, sit there quietly, eyes closed for about a minute, longer if you want, and then softly open the eyes. See that wasn’t so hard, or weird.

Now, just like one set of sit-ups won’t give you ripped abs, one meditation, sorry focus exercise, won’t bring you enlightenment, but keep it up for 5 days in a row (maybe twice a day if you can hack it) and see what it does for your performance.  I bet you will notice something you can’t quite put you finger on, you’ll feel sharper, clearer, more in control.  In short, better.

Here is a cheat sheet for that focus exercise.

1 minute eyes closed, sitting still.

10 rounds 3/3 breath pattern.

10 rounds 4/6 breath pattern.

10 rounds 5/5 breath pattern.

1 minute eyes closed, sitting still.

 

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One Comment on “Meditation for Athletes.

  1. You are correct… consistant calm breathing through out the day while nose breathing means less lactic acid. Search for the “Bohr Effect”

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