While meditation may seem slow when compared to other methods of sports preparation -- drills, training and practice, for example -- it can be key to helping you become more focused and positive when you play. While it's difficult to measure the direct effects of meditation on your game, meditation can teach you to relax, focus and feel more positive about your athletic performance. Work some meditation techniques into your training schedule and be ready to experience a positive effect.
They most common form of meditation is called transcendental meditation, or TM. The practice involves simply sitting quietly with your eyes closed and a clear mind for about 20 minutes as a way to focus and reduce stress. You don't need any special equipment to practice TM, but you may find it hard to clear your mind for 20 minutes at time. If this is the case, try for shorter periods of time at first. You'll probably find that with practice, TM becomes easier to do for longer periods of time.
If you find that sitting quietly isn't helping your meditation practice or your game, try positive visualization as part of your meditation technique. Positive visualization involves picturing some of the circumstances that may occur during a game or match and then visualizing your response. "Sport Psychology Today" suggests picturing a positive outcome and what you want from the game or match. This can help increase your confidence and perspective before you begin playing.
Using mantras is another way to prep for a big game and to inspire your performance to be the very best. Mantra meditation is done by first choosing a quote, phrase or word that inspires you. Then, sit quietly for a few minutes as you repeat the mantra in your head 10 times. Repeat it silently as you move your lips, suggests "Yoga Journal." Then, try repeating it 10 more times in your head without moving your lips. When your mind wanders, come back to the mantra and repeat it again for the duration of your meditation.
If nerves are getting you down before a big game or match, try breathing exercises to help center yourself and feel more calm. Simply focusing on your breath -- rather than your nerves -- can help you prep for better performance. Try lying on your back and placing a hand over your belly. Breathe so deeply that your hand rises over your belly and then push the air back out again. Repeat until you feel more in control of your nerves.