Mindfulness meditation training for tennis players
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The first purpose of this experimental study was to investigate if there is an improvement in tennis players' performance when they use mindfulness meditation training (MMT), an intervention designed for this study. The second purpose of the study was to evaluate whether participation in MMT would increase tennis players' mindfulness and help them reduce anxiety, and whether these factors would mediate performance. The third purpose of the study was to examine whether participation in MMT training decreased the frequency of negative thoughts and improved athletes' ability to 'let-go' of negative thoughts. In terms of the structure of the research, 100 tennis players were randomly divided into either the intervention group or the control group. The intervention group was asked to listen to a mindfulness meditation training (MMT) CD, while the control group listened to a tennis skills and strategy CD. Both CD's were ten minutes in duration and the tennis players were asked to listen to their given CD daily over an eight week period. The intervention group finished with 42 participants and the control group finished with 38 participants, therefore, ending up with the total of 80 participants total. The intervention group, which practiced MMT, significantly outperformed the control group as measured by tennis results. Compared to the control group, the intervention group won significantly more games (449 compared to 242) and matches (211compared to 99) and lost significantly fewer games (188 compared to 428) and matches (120 compared to 205). The intervention group also increased in the level of mindfulness as measured by The Mindful Attention and Awareness Scale (MAAS) whereas the control group showed no significant increase. The increase in mindfulness by the intervention group not only helped participants accept performance related anxiety, but also had a positive effect on performance; higher scores on the MAAS scale were positively related to the number of games and matches won. Likewise, the significantly lower scores on the Social Fear subscale shown by the intervention group could help explain why those participants lost fewer games and matches. Even though neither the intervention group nor the control group was able to "let-go" of negative thoughts if they did occur, the findings indicated that the intervention group experienced fewer negative thoughts than the control group. MMT helped tennis players' performance, and although further research is warranted to assess the impact of MMT with respect to age, gender, sport and practice duration, it should be considered a potentially valuable intervention for coaches and athletes who are trying to improve tennis performance.