The application of mindfulness in sport is not new. Sports psychologists have been studying the impact of using mindfulness in competitive sport for many years now. Multiple studies have demonstrated that mindfulness enhances athletic performance by improving concentration and accuracy, and by making it easier to play ‘in the zone’.
So might it have a role to play in professional tennis? Novak Djokovic, today’s Wimbledon semi-finalist, would argue that it does.
In his 2013 book “Serve to Win”, Djokovic explains that he practices mindfulness meditation for 15 minutes every day. Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to your experience as it happens, without judgment. Djokovic explains that practicing mindfulness meditation has enabled him to let go of negative emotions such as self-doubt, anger and worry. He views it as a form of mental training – just as important as his physical training.
Although it is still rare to hear professional players speaking about their use of mindfulness, perhaps given its benefits, we can expect to see much more mindfulness in sport in years to come. With its proven ability to increase focus and attention span, boost personal wellbeing and compassion for others, mindfulness has an obvious application in competitive sport, whether you’re a world class player or an enthusiastic amateur.
Gillian Higgins is an international criminal barrister and meditation teacher. She founded Practical Meditation (www.practicalmeditation.co.uk) in 2016 and teaches mindfulness in the workplace.