Developing Mindfulness Skills Boosts Performance in Athletes

24 Jun 2024
5 min read
Authors – Vedika Jogani

A recent graduate from Ithaca College with a Master’s degree in Sports and Exercise Science, specializing in Mental Performance, Vedika Jogani is OMP’s Product and Content Manager.

I’m sure you’ve been told to “live in the present moment” or “live in the here and now.”  

This advice, often referred to as present moment awareness or mindfulness, is frequently linked to increased enjoyment and performance levels.  

But what does mindfulness really mean? 

Mindfulness is defined as the focus of one’s attention on the experience occurring in the present.  

It’s about fully engaging with the here and now, rather than being preoccupied with the past or future.  

Over the years, research has highlighted four key characteristics of mindfulness (Bodner, 2000).

The Four Characteristics of Mindfulness

  1. Novelty Seeking: This characteristic involves approaching each environment as an opportunity to learn something new. It means actively looking for new experiences and being open to discovering fresh aspects of familiar situations. 
  1. Novelty Producing: This refers to the process of generating new and useful information by processing information from the environment. It’s about being creative and innovative, finding new ways to understand and interact with the world around us. 
  1. Flexibility: This characteristic is assessed through one’s tendency to see situations from multiple perspectives. It involves being able to change perspectives easily, adapting to new information, and considering different viewpoints. 
  1. Engagement: This means paying intense attention to the fine details of an experience. It’s about being fully absorbed in what you’re doing, noticing the subtleties and nuances that might otherwise be overlooked. 

To understand how these characteristics impact other aspects of our lives, a study was conducted to explore the relationship between mindfulness characteristics, flow disposition, and mental skills adoption.  

Flow disposition refers to a state where individuals are fully immersed in an activity, experiencing a balance between challenge and skill.  

The results of the study were enlightening: 

  1. Individuals who exhibited higher mindfulness characteristics scored higher on the flow disposition factors such as challenge-skill balance.
    They were better at setting clear goals, had improved concentration, an enhanced sense of control, and experienced a loss of self-consciousness.
    This means they were more likely to get into a state of flow, where they could perform at their best and enjoy the process more. 
    1. Additionally, those with higher mindfulness characteristics showed a greater adoption of mental skills.
      They demonstrated better attentional control, more effective goal setting, improved emotional control, and utilized positive self-talk more frequently.
      These skills are crucial for maintaining focus, managing emotions, and staying motivated, all of which contribute to better performance and well-being. 

    In essence, mindfulness is not just about being in the moment; it’s about enhancing our capacity to engage with and adapt to our environment, fostering creativity, flexibility, and deep engagement.  

    By cultivating these characteristics, we can improve our overall mental and emotional functioning, leading to a more fulfilling and productive life.  

    Athletes who develop mindfulness skills often experience better focus, enhanced emotional regulation, and a heightened ability to enter the state of flow, ultimately boosting their performance levels and enjoyment of their sport. 



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