One of the most overused cliches in sports is that the game is 90% mental and 10% physical. The problem is that most coaches and players spend 100% of their time working on the physical aspects of their sport.
The top-level athletes know that it's the mindset that really makes them who they are. Physical traits can only take you so far. It's about the inner game. And a big part of maximizing that inner game can come through meditation and mindfulness.
Meditation has long been known to have health several benefits. It can help improve your focus, manage fear, strengthen your immune system, improve sleep, decrease stress, and that's just to name a few things.
For athletes, it's one the most powerful yet most underutilized methods to not only play your best every time out but also help them deal with a busy, ever-changing environment of sports.
Here are a few athletes who meditate on a daily basis to elevate their game:
LeBron is very well known for his use of meditation and has even been seen meditating while on the sidelines of a game, despite the noisy crowd and intense atmosphere. He also recently signed a partnership with Calm app, which is one of the world’s best-known meditation and relaxation apps.
Even though he's been retired for a while now, Jeter has stated that he’s meditated since 2012 and credits meditation with bringing more out of his game during his final couple of years playing. While Jeter says that meditating made him a better player, it’s more important to note that he also said it made him a better person.
Jordan is infamous for working alongside George Mumford, a legendary meditation teacher, as did the rest of the legendary Bulls team from the 90s per Phil Jackson. This helped Jordan to remain in the moment and focus while playing – something that obviously worked very well, judging by the number of championships and MVP awards he won throughout his career.
Lloyd is one of the greatest women's soccer players of all-time and says that her mental state is just as important as her physical fitness and natural skill. By meditating, she has taught herself to block out distractions while playing. Not to mention that she also uses various visualization techniques to prepare herself for what she needs to do on the field.
Superstar QB Russell Wilson, along with the rest of the Seahawks squad, used meditation on their run to winning Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014. Head coach Pete Carroll has stated before that meditation was key to that Super Bowl win. The Seahawks even went as far as hiring a psychologist in order to get them mentally prepared before every game.
Kerri Walsh will go down in beach volleyball history as one of the best, if not the best, to ever play the game. The three-time Olympic gold medalist, and a one-time Olympic bronze medalist, says that one of her secret weapons was meditation. She would regularly practice yoga, meditate daily, and make a habit of positive self-talk to help her win gold.
- Bonus: the late, great Kobe Bryant was huge on mindset, meditation, and mindfulness.
Check out this video where Kobe talks about the importance of not only meditation but sleep as well.
Meditation can be that one thing that gives you an extra edge over your competition.
As athletes, we know that every sport is a matter of inches. All you need is a small percentage to gain an advantage or to win.
But aside from your performance, it can be understated that meditation can help with anxiety, depression, and other mental health illnesses you might be experiencing outside of sports.
Making it a daily practice can get you through injury if you're going through that as well as overcome challenges like transitioning back into sports or even out of sports (e.g., retirement).
Regardless of what's happening or what you're currently going through, meditation can be that one small habit that makes a big difference.