Our minds are great at highlighting what can go wrong, how we might lose, how painful this will be, and any number of unpleasant things. To make it worse, those unpleasant highlights might be right! But, assuming we are practised and prepared, they’re not usually helpful. Unless there’s a genuine safety concern, investing in unhelpful thoughts and feelings, as our minds would like us to do, is detrimental to performance. But, what happens when you try and block those thoughts?
Working hard to replace unhelpful inner chatter with useful and constructive thoughts is sometimes helpful – perhaps our practised self-talk and routines help. But often it doesn’t. Mindfulness provides a complementary approach to trying to block out the chatter – what if:
- It was OK for those unhelpful thoughts to come up, without affecting our focus?
- We had a way to work with our thoughts, rather than them working us?
- Whatever happens, we could still execute our game or race plan, adapting to the environment as needed?
Mindfulness helps us to develop our skills in responding rather than reacting to our thoughts and emotions, and so our environment. It helps us to focus our attention on our game or race plan. In short, it allows us to be the athlete we put in those hard hours to be.
The course is based on Mindful Meditation Training for Sport 2.0 (MMTS 2.0) a six week, six-hour training plan taught in 6 hour-long sessions or 12 x 30-minute sessions teaching the core skills of mindfulness for athletes combined with psychological skills to enhance sports performance. It’s a plan developed originally by ex-athlete and professor of sports psychology Amy Baltzell Ed.D and experienced mindfulness teacher Joshua Summers and grounded in the considerable wealth of mindfulness research that now exists.
Just like the physical skills of your craft, mindfulness takes regular practice. You should allocate a minimum of ten minutes per day to practice the psychological skills using the provided mindful meditations, and apply them in your training sessions and performance. Regularity is key; 10 minutes per day is better than one 60 minute practice.
Mark teaches the course one-to-one or with teams and groups, either online or face-to-face (and considering Covid-19 guidelines). The programme includes everything you need, including notes on each session and recorded mindful meditations for your practice. Here’s the programme outline:
- Module 1: Introducing Mindfulness
- Module 2: Introducing Self-compassion for performance
- Module 3: Tolerating sports distress part 1
- Module 4: Tolerating sports distress part 2
- Module 5: Concentration
- Module 6: Working with distraction
- Module 7: Working with difficult moments
- Module 8: Compassion to self and others
- Module 9: Self-regulation and sports values
- Module 10: Self-regulation and body awareness
- Module 11: Preparing to adapt and adjust
- Module 12: Accepting, adapting and adjusting
The one-to-one live online course typically costs £450 as 6×1-hour sessions, and £495 as 12×30-minute sessions, and includes everything you need to develop the skills of mindfulness to enhance your performance as an athlete. Get in touch for team pricing.
Are there ID requirements or an age limit to attend a course?
The course is open to anyone aged 18 years or over, or younger with consent and support from a parent or guardian.
Where can I contact the organiser with any questions?
If you have further questions, do get in touch using one of the options on our Contact page.
What if there is a session I can’t make?
For one-to-one courses, speak with Mark in advance and agree on a different date.
For courses, if you know you can’t make a particular week we can ensure that you still received the notes for that week, along with the practices. If you normally join the course at a venue, it may also be possible to join the training online. So, don’t worry too much if you know there is one week you can’t make. If it’s two or more weeks I can’t make? Generally, it’s a good idea to book on the following course – but, every situation is different, so do contact Mark to discuss; for example, it may be possible to book one-to-one sessions to cover the content you won’t be able to make.
Can I pay by…?
You’re welcome to pay by bank transfer, credit card, cheque, or even cash, and we ask for your preference when you book.
Can I reserve a place on the course?
You’re welcome to reserve a place with a deposit of £40, which will hold the place until 7 days before the course. So we ask for full payment at least 7 days prior to the course.
What is the refund policy?
A full refund is available if you choose to cancel your attendance 48 or more hours before the first training session, and an 80% refund right up until the first session. A full refund is also available if you attend the first training session and decide that the course is not for you – just let us know within 24 hours of the first session.
If we go into lockdown for COVID19, usually courses will continue online. If you can’t or prefer not to attend online, a pro-rata refund or re-joining a future course is usually possible.
Is the course suitable for those with depression or other mental illness?
Mindfulness practice can be beneficial for those who have suffered from depression or other mental illness. However, the course may not be suitable if you are currently suffering from clinical depression, unless under the guidance of a medical professional. Partly, this is due to the nature of mindfulness practise which invites us to focus on and work directly with our thoughts and feelings – this can be very helpful for those who have suffered from depression but may not be productive in the middle of a depressive episode. Do please speak with Mark if you’re unsure about suitability.
What are the computer / technical requirements to attend?
The guided meditation practises are provided as mp3 audio files, which can be played on any computer or smartphone. The files are provided for download using a web link, and can also be copied to a memory stick, or even a CD provided for participants if preferred.
Online courses use the computer conferencing software Microsoft Teams, which is free to use as an attendee and runs on all major computers, tablets and smartphones.
Do I need to be able to sit in the lotus position or any other special position?
No! There is no special sitting position or physical requirements. For sitting meditation, the suggestion is to sit upright, with your upper body self-supporting (for example, away from the back of a chair). But if that isn’t practical, then you can sit however you choose.
Is it suitable if I have a physical disability?
Yes! Although there are recommended postures for practice (see ‘Do I need to be able to sit in the lotus position’, above), they are not required. There are also simple movement practices – again, which can be adjusted or excluded to support anybody who wishes to learn to become more mindful.
I believe it is important to teach mindfulness both competently and ethically. Although mindfulness is not formally regulated in the UK, recommendations for ethical practice are provided by the British Association of Mindfulness Based Approaches (BAMBA) for training, practice and supervision, and I follow these guidelines, for example:
- Formal and continual training – my training followed the UK Network guidance for training teachers, and I teach according to the guidelines expected for mindfulness teachers. This is the same approach recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE; the UK body providing evidence-based information for health and care professionals, including the NHS).
- Under normal circumstances, we will speak on the phone before you start a course to ensure that the course is suitable.
- Confidentiality is key in all of my courses.
- I have regular supervision from an external qualified mindfulness supervisor.
A more detailed description of the guidelines is provided by the UK Network here: Mindfulness-based teachers Good Practice Guide.
It has been one of, if not the best, investments in my life.