Tag: brain training


This study sought out to examine the relationship between mindfulness and states of flow in elite athletes. To learn more about flow, click here. In doing so, the researchers were able to test the validity of a mindfulness measure, replicate and extend past research, and look closer at relationships of mindfulness and flow in:

  • Individual vs. Team Sport
  • Pacing vs. Nonpacing Sports
  • Males vs. Females

By the Numbers:

92 athletes from the South Australian Sports Institute and the Australian Institute of Sport participated in the study. There was a representation of males and females from 12 different sports. Athletes used two measures, the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire and the Dispositional Flow Scale-2 for assessment purposes.

Take Away Messages:

Results of this study provided evidence that the relationship between mindfulness and flow may be slightly higher in individual-pacing sports compared to team-based nonpacing sports. Mindfulness could possibly be related to different facets of flow in males compared to females. This information makes an argument that mindfulness and states of flow may be more obtainable on an individual basis. No different than any skill for athletes, it is important to know what works for you and how to get into “the zone.”


Carthcart, S., McGregor, M., & Groundwater, E. (2014).  Mindfulness and Flow in Elite Athletes. Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology, (8), 199-141.

The game of soccer is one of the most physically demanding in all of sport. With physical demands of the whole body and players traveling, on average, seven miles in a game, there is no doubt that soccer athletes have to be some of the most physically fit in the world. But what comes, then, when regulation and extra time have passed and players must engage in game-deciding penalty kicks? What physical skill is required there? The ball is centered, only 12 yards away from the goal, with the keeper completely at the taker’s mercy in regards to where the shot will go, when it will be taken, etc. So why at the World Cup – soccer’s greatest stage – is the conversion rate for penalty kicks only .71?

The answer is one of the most beautiful ironies in all of sport: the simplest of physical tasks becomes the most difficult because of how mentally challenging it is.

The one-on-one nature is naturally going to elicit some nerves. Coupled with the pressure of the moment, the implications of the result, and the apparent ease of the situation, those nerves can make a player far from their best. Some factors are beyond the player’s control: who shoots first and who shoots second, and consequently who shoots for gain and who shoots to recover, is determined entirely by a coin flip. For some, the pressure is next to none; goalkeepers are seen as heroes if they save a penalty kick, and receive next to no blame for allowing a goal. However, for the players taking the penalty kicks, it can be said for certain that mental strength is the key.

Confidence, strength of will, and physical ability–these are all the pieces to the penalty kick puzzle. All are ever-present with the USA National Team. Just consider the team’s slogan through the tournament thus far: I Believe. Klinsmann, the team’s coach, just told his players to change their flights until after the World Cup final. Think Team USA has confidence? While we hope the game for the Americans doesn’t end up coming to penalty kicks – hopefully we have the win secured long before they become necessary – don’t be surprised to see the team shine if it comes to that. The mental strength is there, and the whole country can’t be wrong when they say, “I believe that we will win!”



Hatokie, A. (2014, July 1). The psychology of penalty shootouts. – Football. Retrieved July 1, 2014, from http://www.aljazeera.com/sport/brazil2014/2014/07/psychology-penalty- shootouts-20147182438644251.html


You know that voice inside your head? The one that reminds you of something negative at the most inopportune moment? We’ve all got it. Those voices are our minds at work. Over the course of our existence, our minds have developed to keep us safe by solving problems. However, while they strive to keep us safe, they don’t always do so honestly. That’s right: our minds sometimes tell us things that aren’t true or helpful in order to solve problems.

If you’ve ever been reminded of the last shot you missed while standing at the free-throw line, or the last pass you bombed the moment you were throwing the ball, you’ll surely be aware of the effects it can have on your performance. While it might not make sense that these thoughts would “help” us, our minds are trying to remind us of these old actions in hopes that we might not repeat them. (This goes back to those old survival instincts where repeating the same action twice might result in death.) While we can’t stop our minds from their constant input, we can train ourselves to place that input on the back burner when we really need to. Here are 3 tips from psychotherapist Bobbi Emel:

  1. Thank your mind. When that little voice starts telling you that your shirt is so last year, just acknowledge it. Tell your mind that you appreciate that it is looking out for your best interests, but that you’re fine. Soon, you will be able to separate yourself from your thoughts, and see that those thoughts aren’t you.
  2. Become aware that some of the thoughts your mind produces may not be true.  Your hair does look fine. You will make that next shot. Your next time will be better. You’re mind is simply worried that once you reach good enough that you won’t strive to do better. Again, all you need to do us understand that your mind is trying to solve problems. After you do that, just tell yourself that it’s not true and move on.
  3. Label thoughts as stories. Our minds create patterns of thoughts that are like stories. Recognizing that not all of those stories are true is key. Once you do that, you can take a step back from your own thought process and allow yourself to be more objective. Not all stories are true.

At first glance, it may seem a bit difficult to turn down the volume on your own thoughts. The important thing to remember is that like any sport or skill, it takes time to learn, practice and apply. With enough work, you will be able to apply these with ease and focus on what’s really important: the moment you’re in right then and there.

For the full article, click here.