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Peak Performance in Sports through Mindfulness Training

By 
Frank Aschoff
|
23/11/2022
Meditation teacher, journalist and Cochrane member with a focus on evidence-based naturopathy

Joy for some, hanging heads for others - emotions are part of the fascination of sporting events. Emotions also have a significant influence on the performance of athletes: Those who have their emotions "under control" are more successful. That's why many top athletes rely on mindfulness training. Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have shown in studies that the ability to maintain concentration and regulate emotions can be trained like muscles. They now present their results and tips on training for professional and amateur athletes in the publication Mindfulness Training in Sports.

"Mindfulness exercises have a similar effect as strength training," says Professor Darko Jekauc from the KIT Institute of Sport and Sport Science. "Those who train regularly increase their mental strength." Mindfulness means concentrating on the present moment, i.e., consciously perceiving body sensations, thoughts, and feelings without evaluating them. "After all, movements of the mind such as joy, anger, fear or helplessness make themselves felt on a physical and mental level and thus influence performance," explains the professor of sports psychology. "Being present in the here and now helps to get off the thought carousel, overcome difficult emotions and consciously experience life's essential moments."

Emotional stability brings stable performance

Jekauc says that when athletes are able to reduce their own evaluations and increase their acceptance of the current situation, their emotional stability increases. And those who are emotionally stable are more likely to evaluate situations optimistically instead of focusing on difficulties. Prominent examples of success through mindfulness include Novak Djokovic in tennis, Steve Kerr and Kobe Bryant in basketball, and Malaika Mihambo in athletics. Basketball coach Phil Jackson, who has won a total of eleven championships in the U.S. professional league NBA with the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers, has also used mindfulness training as a "secret weapon.

Training program for professional and recreational sports

Mindfulness training teaches concentration exercises, such as breathing exercises, as well as techniques for observing one's own thoughts and feelings and not letting them rule one's life. "The goal is to become more mindful of life in all its facets, such as work and sports," says Jekauc. The sports psychologist and his team have now published a mindfulness training program for athletes as a book. The focus is on a scientifically based mindfulness program for professional and recreational sports that can be done alone or in a group. The eight units of the program include practical exercises and information on their background and effects.

Further information:

Wissenschaftlicher Ansprechpartner:

  • Dr. Felix Mescoli, Pressereferent, Tel.: +49 721 608-41171, E-Mail: felix.mescoli@kit.edu

Pressemitteilung: 

  • Monika Landgraf Strategische Entwicklung und Kommunikation - Gesamtkommunikation
  • Karlsruher Institut für Technologie

Originalpublikation:

  • Darko Jekauc, Lea Mülberger, Susanne Weyland: Achtsamkeitstraining im Sport – Das Übungsprogramm zur Förderung der sportlichen Leistungsfähigkeit. Springer, 2022.

Redaktion: 

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