This study presents the case of Steve, an adolescent competitive springboard diver. This diver, referred by his coach, received the Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment (MAC) approach for performance enhancement. The MAC protocol, originally written for an adult population, was used in modified form (under consultation from the authors) to ensure appropriateness for an adolescent population. Conducted in nine individual sessions, the intervention targeted abilities in attention and value-driven behavior to enhance focus, poise, and overall diving performance. Self-report measures of mindfulness and flow, along with objective measures of diving performance were collected pre- and postintervention. Results indicated increases in mindful awareness, mindful attention, experiential acceptance, flow, and diving performance from pre- to postintervention. This case supports the applicability of the MAC protocol with an adolescent athlete population.
Keith A. Kaufman, Carol R. Glass, and Diane B. Arnkoff
The construct of mindfulness appears to be compatible with theories of flow and peak performance in sport. The present study assessed how Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement (MSPE), a new 4-week program, affected flow states, performance, and psychological characteristics of 11 archers and 21 golfers from the community. Participants completed trait measures of anxiety, perfectionism, thought disruption, confidence, mindfulness, and flow. They additionally provided data on their performances and state levels of mindfulness and flow. Analyses revealed that some significant changes in dimensions of the trait variables occurred during the training. Levels of state flow attained by the athletes also increased between the first and final sessions. The findings suggest that MSPE is a promising intervention to enhance flow, mindfulness, and aspects of sport confidence. An expanded workshop to allot more time for mindfulness practice is recommended for future studies.
Amy Gooding and Frank L. Gardner
Seventeen (17) members of three NCAA Division I men’s basketball teams completed measures of mindfulness and sport-related anxiety to examine the relationship between mindfulness, preshot routine, trait arousal, and basketball free throw shooting percentage. It was hypothesized that (a) mindfulness scores would predict game free throw shooting percentage, (b) practice free throw percentage (indicative of basic skill) would predict game free throw percentage, and (c) consistency in the length of prefree throw routine would predict game free throw percentage. Results indicate that levels of mindfulness significantly predict game free throw percentage and that practice free throw percentage also predicts game free throw percentage. Length and/or consistency of preshot routine were not predictive. Although not proposed as a hypothesis, a statistically significant relationship was also found between an athlete’s year in school (which reflects competitive basketball experience) and game free throw percentage. Together, these results clearly suggest that the combination of mindfulness, skill (practice free throw percentage), and competitive experience (year in school) all contribute to the prediction of competitive free throw percentage and that these variables are more central to successful free throw percentage at this level of competition than length/consistency of one’s preshot routine.
Marjorie Bernier, Emilie Thienot, Romain Codron, and Jean F. Fournier
The two studies included herein discuss mindfulness and acceptance in sport performance. Based on exploratory interviews with elite swimmers, Study 1 showed that optimal performance, or “flow,” states reveal similar characteristics to mindfulness and acceptance states. In flow experiences, the elite swimmers described that they had been particularly mindful of their bodily sensations and accepted them. In Study 2, mindfulness and acceptance were integrated into a psychological skills training program for seven young elite golfers. The program, based on mindfulness and acceptance, contributed to performance enhancement in competition. Participants improved the efficacy of their routines by seeking more relevant internal and external information. The results of both studies corroborated those of previous studies dealing with mindfulness and acceptance in sport. Together, these studies enhance the applicability and efficacy of these approaches with athletic clientele.
Lillian A. De Petrillo, Keith A. Kaufman, Carol R. Glass, and Diane B. Arnkoff
The present study sought to determine the effects of Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement (MSPE) on runners. Participants were 25 recreational long-distance runners openly assigned to either the 4-week intervention or to a waiting-list control group, which later received the same program. Results indicate that the MSPE group showed significantly more improvement in organizational demands (an aspect of perfectionism) compared with controls. Analyses of pre- to postworkshop change found a significant increase in state mindfulness and trait awareness and decreases in sport-related worries, personal standards perfectionism, and parental criticism. No improvements in actual running performance were found. Regression analyses revealed that higher ratings of expectations and credibility of the workshop were associated with lower postworkshop perfectionism, more years running predicted higher ratings of perfectionism, and more life stressors predicted lower levels of worry. Findings suggest that MSPE may be a useful mental training intervention for improving mindfulness, sport-anxiety related worry, and aspects of perfectionism in long-distance runners.
Zella E. Moore
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.
Eric D. Morse
Randy C. Battochio, Robert J. Schinke, Mark A. Eys, Danny L. Battochio, Wayne Halliwell, and Gershon Tenenbaum
Semistructured interviews were used in this study to learn about the challenges experienced by four groups of National Hockey League (NHL) players (N= 11): prospects (n= 3), rookies (n= 3), veterans (n= 2), and retirees (n= 3). The database is comprised of 757 meaning units grouped into 11 contextual challenges. From an additional quantitative analysis, the prospects and rookies emphasized challenges pertaining to scouting demands, training camp, increased athletic demands, team expectations, and earning team trust. The veterans spoke mostly of challenges including scouting demands, athletic demands, and team expectations. Retirees considered mostly challenges pertaining to team expectations, athletic demands, lifestyle, media demands, transactions, cross-cultural encounters, and playoffs. An expert panel ensured that the interview guide, data analysis, and the findings represented the participants’ experiences in the NHL. Recommendations for practitioners and researchers working with NHL players are proposed.