Sport Psychology is the study of the psychological factors associated with performance. This theory and practice aims to strengthen mental skills to perform optimally. By identifying irrational beliefs, improving self-talk, and taking personal responsibility for your choices, you can gain control of your thoughts. Sport psychology is not intended for just an athletic population. Sport psychology is about performing and we’re always performing. Whether you’re an athlete or not, there is some way that performance affects your ability to thrive.
Breathing, self-talk, preparation, visualization, and goal setting, are just a few of the many components of Sport Psychology. The underlying theme in all of those tools is control. One way control can be sharpened is by a consistent practice of meditation. Meditation balances the mind and breath. Once breathing is controlled, we have the ability to control our thoughts. Once visualizations are controlled, we are able to focus on where and what we want to be. If we can control our breath, we can control our thoughts. Breathing lowers cortisol levels and cortisol is a stress hormone. Even by just taking five deep breaths we can slow down, reconnect, and check in with what is actually happening (not what we’ve created a story about).
Want to try it?
Close your eyes and picture yourself swimming in an open body of water.
Take a deep breath and visualize all of the things you see and feel.
Imagine yourself configuring a deeper energy as you swim freely.
You can feel the water touching your body.
You can feel the control of your breath as you lengthen each inhale and deepen each exhale.
Now picture an energy force around you moving into a larger shape.
Similar to the bottom of a wave and the top of wave, you energy increases helping you swim faster.
With each breath, take in even more on each inhale and let out even more on each exhale.
You move amongst the water clearing any objects away to let you move through with little effort.
Keep focusing on your breath, creating more space in the mind.
Allow yourself to just be with the breath.
This visualization and breathing meditation will make a difference in how you feel. It will allow you to visualize a more positive energy source when you’re in a position where you need to gain control of your thoughts. It changes the chemistry in your body and ultimately how you perform. Sport Psychology techniques act as mental skills strengtheners and we know that paying attention to mental health is equally, if not more important, as physical health. After all, the body listens to the mind.
Photo Credit: Lauren Mitchell (@lauren.in.balance)