Mindfulness in Sports: Benefits for Performance and Well-being
In the fast-paced world of sports, the power of mindfulness is often underestimated. Athletes like Dylan Shiel, a gun midfielder for the Essendon Football Club, have recognized the profound impact of incorporating mindfulness training into their routines. Mindfulness in Sports Benefits Shiel, who initially found the concept overwhelming, now attests to its effectiveness in enhancing his performance and mental well-being.
Dylan is a professional Australian rules footballer playing for the Essendon Football Club. He attended Caulfield Grammar School, graduating in 2010, and played his juniors at Dandenong Stingrays in the TAC Cup. He has played a total of 180 games, 135 with GWS and 45 with Essendon. Mindfulness in Sports Benefits
Highlights from the episode:
- Mindfulness training
- How he works on his weaknesses during the offseason
- What he does before a game that benefits him
- His plan for life after footy
- How to boost team morale for next week’s game after a loss
- How he trains for explosiveness
The Misconception: Mental Toughness vs. Mindfulness
During his early days, Shiel, like many others, believed that seeking help from a psychologist at the football club was a sign of mental weakness. The prevailing notion was that mentally tough players should suppress and compartmentalize their issues. However, Shiel now understands that this approach can be detrimental to mental health. Acknowledging and addressing mental health concerns is a crucial step towards better performance on the field.
Solo Training and Self-Motivation
Shiel has developed a habit of training on his own, especially during the offseason. This solo training allows him to focus on building his fitness and strength while enjoying some valuable alone time. Being a highly motivated individual, he thrives in this independent training environment. However, he also recognizes the importance of teamwork and occasionally collaborates with teammates to work on specific football-related skills.
Flexibility in Pre-Game Rituals
With the disruptions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Shiel has learned to adapt and be more flexible in his pre-game routines. He no longer feels the need for everything to be perfect and understands that minor deviations from his routine won’t significantly impact his performance. The one non-negotiable aspect of his pre-game preparation is ensuring he gets a good night’s sleep. Sleep, he believes, is the cornerstone of optimal performance, cognition, and alertness.
Life Beyond Football: Balancing Aspirations
While Shiel is committed to his football career, he also looks ahead to life after retirement. He is currently pursuing a commerce finance degree, which he aims to complete in the near future. Post-football, Shiel envisions a year of overseas study in Europe, immersing himself in a new environment with his family. His long-term plan is to integrate his financial acumen into a post-football career, but he remains open to the possibilities that lie ahead.
Bouncing Back: Overcoming Poor Performances
Every athlete faces moments of adversity, and Shiel is no exception. When asked about bouncing back from a poor game or a narrow loss, he emphasizes the importance of swift acknowledgment and acceptance. It’s crucial to dissect the game, identify areas for improvement, and then promptly shift focus to the next match. Dwelling on past performances only hinders future success, and the ability to let go of setbacks is a hallmark of a resilient athlete.
Explosiveness in Action: Training Tips
For athletes looking to enhance their explosiveness on the field, Shiel offers a simple yet effective piece of advice: if you want to run fast, train to run fast. He emphasizes incorporating high-explosive movements in the gym, complementing strength exercises with powerful, dynamic motions. Additionally, Shiel highlights the significance of training movement efficiency, an aspect he’s been refining with the help of his coach, Mark McGrath. By focusing on the quality of movement, athletes can unlock their full potential in terms of speed and agility.
In Conclusion: Harnessing the Power of Mindfulness
Dylan Shiel’s journey in professional sports is a testament to the transformative power of mindfulness. By embracing mental health awareness and adopting mindful practices, athletes can elevate their performance while safeguarding their mental well-being. Whether it’s solo training, flexible pre-game routines, or a commitment to continuous improvement, Shiel’s approach serves as an inspiration for athletes looking to excel both on and off the field. Mindfulness in sports is not just a trend; it’s a game-changer.
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