Can mindfulness meditation improve your tennis game? Decidedly so, according to a study by Boston University researcher Dejan Stankovic. The study found an improvement in tennis players’ performance when they used mindfulness meditation training (MMT), an intervention designed for this study. The study also found MMT would increase tennis players’ mindfulness and help them reduce anxiety, decrease the frequency of negative thoughts and improve the athletes’ ability to ‘let-go’ of negative thoughts.
100 tennis players were randomly divided into either the intervention group or the control group. The intervention group was requested to listen to a mindfulness meditation practice (MMT) CD, and the control group listened to a tennis skills CD. The two CD’s were ten minutes in length. The players were asked to listen daily during an eight week period. The intervention group ended with 42 participants and the control group ended with 38 participants, a total of 80 participants. The intervention group that practiced MMT substantially outperformed the control group as measured by tennis outcomes. The intervention group also improved in the degree of mindfulness as quantified by The Mindful Attention and Awareness Scale (MAAS) whereas the control group revealed no substantial increase.
The boost in mindfulness from the intervention group not only enabled the players to reduce performance anxiety, but also had a positive impact on competitiveness; greater scores on the MAAS scale were positively linked to the number of matches and games won. Likewise, the considerably reduced scores on the Social Fear subscale revealed from the intervention team might help explain why those participants dropped fewer matches and games.
Although neither the intervention team nor the management group managed to “let-go” of negative self-talk if it did happen, the findings suggested that the intervention group experienced fewer negative thoughts compared to control group. MMT assisted tennis players’ performance, and although additional study is warranted to evaluate the effect of MMT connected to age, sex, game and exercise length, it needs to be considered a possibly valuable intervention for athletes and coaches that are making an effort to improve athletic performance.
Reference: Boston University Theses and Dissertations