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Meditate Your Way to Becoming a Better Athlete

Meditate Your Way to Becoming a Better Athlete

After taking over as head coach of the Chicago Bulls in 1989, Phil Jackson introduced mindful meditation to the team. They won six NBA Championships as a result. In 1999, as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, he again introduced mindful meditation to his team. They won five NBA championships. “As much as we run and we pump iron to build our physical strength up, we need to build our mental strength up,” Jackson later said. Michael Jordon admitted “that Zen Buddhist stuff” helped him become a better player. And at the end of game five of the 1989 Eastern Conference First Round, Jordon made what’s now known as “the shot,” considered one of the most Zen-like baskets ever, to clench the Bulls’ 101-100 victory.

According to a study in the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement, there’s more evidence that coach Jackson is spot on: Researchers found University of Miami football players who practiced mindfulness for 12 to 15 minutes a day were more able to withstand emotional and mental demands of hours of strenuous physical training. They had greater resilience and more sustained focus.

Your take-away? Whether it’s walking 10,000 steps a day, training for a charity bike ride or enjoying your daily workout at home, you can use mindful meditation to keep up your resolve and maximize your enjoyment. In short, you’ll increase mental and physical toughness and become your best athlete by finding time for mental clarity.

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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