While meditation has gained popularity in the modern age, many people still see it as a difficult spiritual practice that involves sitting cross-legged and humming 'om' for hours on end. In truth, meditation is fairly easy to engage in and can provide wonderful benefits when it comes to attaining peace of mind and staying focused on your game.
There's one particular practice we'll focus on in this article: mindfulness meditation. The goal of mindfulness is to fully allow yourself to take in the present moment without judgment clouding your experience. Practitioners will typically start working toward this by sitting down and focusing on their breath.
The goal is simply to be aware of when your mind strays from your breathing and to gently redirect your focus back to your breath when this occurs. This will likely happen several times, but this continual redirection is entirely natural. You will become aware of whatever thoughts or emotions are swirling around your mind without getting caught up in them.
Your breath is a permanent anchor that you can always use to regain your focus, but you can be mindful in just about any situation, and this is the eventual ideal. If you're washing dishes, be fully aware of the water cascading over your hands, the weight of the plate in your hand, the sound of the silverware being set in the dryer.
Eventually you can apply mindfulness to other actions, including playing pickleball. How does your opponent move? What direction is the ball flying? How is your body reacting when you return a slam? All of these things can be analyzed without the frustration or anxiety that might usually come with competition, and instead utilized to improve your game and reduce stress.
Meditation can help to reduce brain chatter and allow you to fully focus on your pickleball technique. It has also been shown to improve concentration, creativity and awareness. Simply taking a few minutes to practice mindfulness whenever you can will help get you into the right zone to play your best and enjoy pickleball.