The Benefits of Meditation and the 5-Minute Exercise Every Tennis Player Needs Before a Match
If you play tennis and you're not meditating regularly, there is a long list of (science-backed) reasons why you should be. At the top of that list are a few things tennis players in particular should be interested in.
- Meditation improves your mental focus
- Meditation teaches you how to stay calm while under pressure
- Meditation builds your mental stamina and endurance
As any tennis player knows, the sport is as much a mental match as it is a physical one. Any edge you can get, then, is important. Whether you need to rally to find deuce or maintain a lead in the third set, how you think and how focused you can be can make the difference between a win or a loss.
And while not everyone will be interested in picking up a regular (lengthy) meditation practice, there is something you can do before each match that will help you tap into that mental focus you need.
5-Minute Pre-Match Meditation:
To begin, find a quiet place to sit, either on the ground or on a bench or chair. Once seated, take a moment to pay attention to how you are sitting. Can you find more length in your spine? One meditation teacher suggests “imagining you are holding the sky with the crown of your head.”
Once you have established your seat, gently close your eyes, turning your gaze up to the centre of your forehead (what the yogis call “the third eye”).
Breathing in through your nose, count slowly to six. Then pause for a moment at the top before exhaling out of your mouth through pursed lips. This exhale should also be to the count of six. Again, pause for a moment, lingering just until it feels a bit uncomfortable, before inhaling.
Keep going for five minutes (set a timer so that you’re not tempted to stop and look).
This simple breath awareness exercise is designed to tune you into the present, rather than being distracted by any worries or anxieties about the match (or anything else). This type of focus is like a laser and, when aimed at your opponent, will leave them struggling to compete.