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Although mindfulness training for athletes is an area of increasing interest, few studies have focused on the qualitative experiences of athletes in such programs. Before beginning six sessions of mindful sport performance enhancement (MSPE) training, 45 mixed-sport collegiate athletes reported what they hoped and expected to get from the training, and responded afterward to open-ended questions about their experiences. Participants’ responses were coded for themes, with high interrater reliability. Athletes initially hoped to gain psychological benefits in both sport and everyday life, such as relaxation and less stress or anxiety, better emotion regulation, mental toughness, and self-awareness, as well as sport performance improvement. Overall, they found MSPE to be a positive experience and reported many of the same benefits that they expected. Participants also provided constructive feedback and recommendations for future MSPE training. Finally, there was evidence to suggest that athletes’ expectations predicted similar improvements in outcome measures.
Mistretta is now with the Dept. of Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ. Glass, Perskaudas, and Kaufman are with the Dept. of Psychology, The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC. Spears is with the School of Public Health, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA. Hoyer is now with the Dept. of Psychology, Auburn University, Auburn, AL.