How Playing Sports Increases Mindfulness

By Naama Landau Crimson Education 2019-11-25 14:15:32

When most parents think of mindfulness, images of yoga and meditation come to mind. What if children could use sports to enhance their mindfulness skills? Below are 5 tips on how sports can help students work on their mindfulness, both on and off the field.

1. Focusing on the Process Instead of the Outcome

While most young children tend to think of competitive sports as a binary win/lose situations, sports are actually a great way to teach your child how to focus on the process instead of just the outcome. Through sports, your child will learn that it does not matter whether their practice or game is enjoyable or difficult, the most important thing is to simply show up, pay attention to what is happening in the moment and work hard. Your child can then apply the same lesson to other aspects of their lives; taking in the joyful moments while accepting and hustling hard when situations become difficult.

2. Developing a Growth Mindset

Start by asking your child what went well after every practice. Then, ask them what areas they need to work on. Soon, your child will begin to understand that celebrating success is important but there is always room for improvement. As you and your child practice this form of constant evaluation, they’ll begin to use the same form of questioning in their classes and in their other extracurricular activities. This habit will then turn into an internal dialogue that will allow them to grow by always asking themselves, “I achieved this, what’s next? What else can I work on? How much more can I achieve?”

3. Paying Attention to Detail

Part of being mindful is understanding which details to focus on, allowing your child to react to situations objectively instead of reflexively. On the field, your child is constantly bombarded with both internal and external thoughts and details. At any given moment, they are thinking about their body placement, the opposing team, the weather, their uniform, their coach, the score, the time left and so much more. Learning to pick out the important details for the specific moment will help them practice and play better. This is a great skill for test-taking as well, where questions can often be flooded with many unnecessary details; identifying and zoning in on what’s important is essential.

4. Achieving Calm in Times of Stress

One of the most important things to remember about mindfulness is that it requires practice through various exercises such as body scanning and breath training. Sports give your child ample opportunity to practice the techniques they learn every time they step onto the field. Your child’s ability to focus in the moment and remember that not all thoughts require action will allow them to be better both on and off the field.