As long as athletes strive to attain optimal performance states and consistently reach high performance goals, psychological interventions will be used to assist in the development of skill and the maintenance of performance. In the pursuit of these goals, newer evidence-driven models based on mindfulness- and acceptance-based approaches have been designed to achieve these ends. Based upon questionable efficacy data for traditional psychological skills training procedures that emphasize reduction or control of internal processes, mindfulness- and acceptance-based approaches develop skills of nonjudging mindful awareness, mindful attention, and experiential acceptance to aid in the pursuit of valued goals. The most formalized and researched mindfulness- and acceptance-based approach within sport psychology is the manualized Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment (MAC) protocol. In the 8 years since the MAC was first developed and presented, and the 5 years since the first publication on the protocol, the MAC program has accumulated a continually growing empirical base for both its underlying theory and intervention efficacy as a performance enhancement intervention. This article reviews the empirical and theoretical foundations of the mindfulness- and acceptance-based approaches in general, and MAC in particular; reviews the accumulated empirical findings in support of the MAC approach for performance enhancement; and presents recent MAC developments and suggested future directions.
The author is with the Department of Psychology at Manhattan College in New York City.