What if you didn’t need to control your competition nerves? This is the question I am left asking after completing the Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement training course. For years, I have been teaching athletes strategies to help them control their competition nerves. These strategies have included using keywords to focus their attention on the element they were performing in the moment. In my Getting in the Zone system, athletes Flood their mind, Complete the element, Detach from the emotions, and Let it Go. This is a more active approach, but about a passive approach? Let’s talk about mindfulness and meditation.

For the past few years, I have been studying and getting certified in mindfulness and meditation practices. The impact of mindfulness in sport is relatively new, with underlying research still in its early stages. Attaining a “state of flow” or “getting in the zone” are both incredible results that have been demonstrated. I believe athletes can benefit from incorporating passive and active approaches to training. For that reason, I would like to share with you some of the ideas I will be incorporating into the weekly training sessions with my athletes.


Mindfulness is simply observing what is happening. Being in the moment and noticing the sensations that are present ie. sound, sight, smell, etc. As human beings, we want to assess whether a sensation is good or bad. However, through mindfulness we are becoming aware from a place of non-judgment.


There are 2 exercises that are pivotal to a basic mindfulness practice:

  1. Diaphragmatic Breathing – This breathing technique is centred in the belly. You can place one hand on your belly and take deep breaths into this space. Notice how your belly rises on the inhale and how it falls on the exhale. Humans are meant to breathe this way, as it is the most efficient way to provide oxygen to the body.

2.   Body Scan – With your eyes closed, start at your feet and move up the body noticing each body part. Be curious  about any sensations you feel in each body part. This is a passive practice. You are not trying to relax your body parts, although relaxation may be an effect. You are simply bringing attention to the feet, the ankles, calves, shins, etc. all the way up to your head.

Competition Nerves

When you engage in mindfulness daily, you develop a practice. The positive effects of this practice will become evident when you are put into a stress situation, like competition. When you begin to feel the nerves in your body, close your eyes and notice where these sensations are being felt. Initiate your belly breathing to optimize the oxygen flow through your body. Guide yourself through the body scan. How you feel does not have to dictate how you perform. You will notice the body start to relax and will feel a sense of presence without needing to control your competition nerves.

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