Academic journal article Journal of Multidisciplinary Research

Qualitative Study of MMTS: Coaches' Experience

Academic journal article Journal of Multidisciplinary Research

Qualitative Study of MMTS: Coaches' Experience

Article excerpt

Introduction

In response to the lack of research on coaches' perceptions of offering mindfulness meditation programs to athletic teams, the present study examines the perceptions of a women's Division I soccer coaching staff with Mindfulness Meditation Training for Sport (MMTS), a 6week twice-weekly mindfulness and compassion training intervention. The purpose of the current study is to explore and report the coaches' perception regarding the value of the MMTS to themselves, and to their athletes, and to offer suggestions of how to improve the design and delivery of the MMTS intervention. The purpose of mindfulness training is quite distinct from that of traditional mental skills training. "The primary focus of mindfulness and acceptance-based models is to promote a modified relationship with internal experiences (i.e., cognitions, emotions, and physiological sensations), rather than seeking to change their form or frequency" (Gardner & Moore, 2012, p. 309). The difference between mindfulness and traditional mental skills training lies in the mechanism of change; individuals accepting versus trying to control their internal experience, which results in enhanced mental efficiency (Gardner & Moore, 2012). Essentially, with such efficiency, the athlete gains the capacity for more attention on task-relevant cues versus on internal experience.

Within the sport realm, however, much attention has focused on mental skills training to improve performance (e.g., Frey, Laguna, & Ravizza, 2003). Mental skills training programs typically focus on imagery, goal setting, concentration, confidence, self-talk, and the establishment of routines (Weinberg & Williams, 2006). Practitioners often use these mental skills training techniques to help clients change or suppress emotions and thoughts (Craft, Magyar, Becker, & Feltz, 2003; Maynard, Smith, & Warwick-Evans, 1995). Some theorists question the assumption that athletes can improve psychological functioning and performance via controlling emotions and thoughts (Gardner & Moore, 2012; Hayes, Strosahl, & Wilson, 1999).

Mindfulness meditation (John, Verma, & Khanna, 2011) and mindfulness-based interventions (Gardner & Moore, 2007) have begun to emerge as an alternative to traditional mental skills training in sport. Baer (2003) defines meditation as "the intentional self-regulation of attention from moment to moment" (p. 125). Kabat-Zinn (2005) defines mindfulness as "an open-hearted, moment-to-moment non-judgmental awareness" (p. 24). Kabat-Zinn, Beall, and Rippe (1985) first used mindfulness meditation (MM) training for collegiate and Olympic rowers. In their study, the rowers reported valuing the training and performance benefits. Subsequently, Kabat-Zinn introduced Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), a time intensive mindfulness meditation based intervention that has proven highly efficacious in reducing medical and psychological symptoms (Keng, Smoski & Robin, 2011).

Kabat-Zinn's mindfulness meditation approach or his MBSR program serve as the basis for most of the interventions in sport. For example, the Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement (MSPE) approach mirrors MBSR, with MSPE consisting of two and half or three hour weekly sessions for four weeks and uses many of the same components of MBSR. Kaufman, Glass, and Arnkoff (2009) showed MPSE to increase the mindfulness and flow of archers and golfers, and DePetrillo, Kaufman, Glass, and Arnkoff (2009) showed this in runners. In terms of using a Kabat-Zinn mindfulness meditation approach, Aherne, Moran, and Lonsdale (2011) used a Kabat-Zinn CD (Williams, Teasdale, Segal & Kabat-Zinn, 2007) for their intervention, which included a range of mindfulness practices and resulted in increased experience of flow for the athletes.

Research has begun to highlight the connection between mindfulness interventions and successful sport performance. John, Verma, and Khanna (2011) reported improved performance of elite male shooters who participated in a four-week mindfulness meditation intervention. …

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