There are a lot of ways to practice that will make us better tennis or pickleball players.
But there is one thing that has proven results on and off the court that is rarely practiced: mindfulness.
It’s been well proven the benefits of mindfulness and learning your own self-compassion mindfulness practice have never been easier!
Kalindi discusses how she uses mindfulness out on the court and teaches us how we can learn to develop our own practice.
The following is a transcript of part 3 of this Game Changers Webinar.
Since you brought up the serve, there is one quick tip that I found helps me a lot. Because, it’s so true, you have all this time to think, and it can be very easy to think your way into a mistake. So, when you’re getting ready to serve, you’re in the ready position.
This is why, if I can take a moment, players might have a ritual around serving. They might bounce the ball once or three times. It’s like an anchor to help you center yourself.
Also, if you’re a righty, you want to make sure your right hand is relaxed. A good idea is to take a second and hold the racket with your non-dominant hand, making sure to take your hand off the racket. Sometimes you might have a death grip, and that’s not a great way to start a serve. Make sure you’re relaxed, and then right before you begin the motion, take a deep exhale, and let all the air out. And then, inhale as you’re about to start your motion because you want your movement synchronized with your breath. So, what’ll happen is you exhale, and then you inhale as you go through your motion, and naturally you exhale as you hit, and give you that extra power.
And that’s why players tend to make what’s called a grunt; it doesn’t need to be Sharapova level but an exhale; it doesn’t even need to be an audible one.
The synchronization of breathing with motion is very, very powerful. Same idea with the serve in pickleball. You can still check in and take your breath. Check your grip. It’s not as common to do the ball bouncing with pickleball, you know, but you could experiment with it or just take an exhale breath and go for it.
Actually, Kalindi, I think now would be a great time to move into the mindfulness aspect now and switch up our agenda a little bit; I think that would be a good thing to segue into.
Yeah, absolutely. Like I mentioned, this exercise can help with that self-critical voice that can whisper in our ears.
It’s called the self-compassion break, and I think you see in pickleball and tennis, in most players and coaches, there is a male dominance. And some might hear self-compassion and think it’s some hippie nonsense. But, let me give me an explanation of self-compassion and the scientific basis of it.
Mindfulness, which has been around for many hundreds of years, came to the west and then it has become more popularized, especially with modern technology and science and looking at brain scans and the impacts of mindfulness, how it helps with reducing anxiety and chronic pain and all kinds of benefits.
So, mindful self-compassion has all those same benefits. And it was developed by two individuals in the field that wanted to add that extra element, and just has a whole host of benefits; improved focus, better well-being, and decreased anxiety and depression. Overall, a holistic benefit that can help on or off the court.
A self-compassion break is something you can do very quickly or for a short amount of time. So, even on a change over on the court is enough time.
And it’s a way of giving yourself a bit of self-kindness, like how you might pump up your pickleball partner; it’s something you can do for yourself.
The best way to get a feel for this is for me to just take you through it. So, go ahead and find a nice comfortable spot.
And let all your air out on a nice exhale. And let that inhale arise naturally, and go ahead and close your eyes if that feels comfortable or take a soft, unfocused gaze in front of you.
Now, I’d like you to bring to mind a recent experience that may have caused you some distress or discomfort. It doesn’t have to be crazy intense, like on a scale of one to ten, something around a 5. Just something that causes a little bit of discomfort.
And bring that experience to mind, so you can see it and relive it a little bit. Bring to mind what it felt like, what emotions came, and notice where you’re feeling them in your body and mind.
The first step in a self-compassion break is simply to recognize that you’re having a difficult moment. You would just acknowledge to yourself, either out loud or in your head. Do this with whatever words that resonate with you.
The second step is to take a broader perspective. Think about the fact that there are lots of other people that are also experiencing their own difficult times. Possibly even a very similar experience to the one you’re experiencing. There are a lot of human beings in the world, and we all share a lot of similar experiences.
This is called bringing in common humanity and sort of a reminder to ourselves that we’re not alone. When we experience a difficult moment, we tend to go into our own heads and think it’s the worse thing ever and lose that broader perspective.
The last thing is to give ourselves a little bit of comfort and support, what you would want a friend to give you or you to give a friend. This might be like you giving yourself a little hug which is also a nice little stretch.
If you’re on the court, it might be something as simple as touching your fingertips together for a moment. There might not be a touch element involved. You might just say some kind of positive affirmation, remembering it’s going to be okay.
Whatever resonates with you. And that’s pretty much it. You can go ahead and open your eyes up again.
I was explaining a lot through it, but once you get familiar with it, that kind of practice can be incredible on and off the court.
There have been hundreds of studies done on mindfulness with just a few of these benefits:
- Reduced Stress
- Improved Mood
- Lowered Blood Pressure
- Improved Sleep
- Reduced Chronic Pain
- Improved Immune Functions
You’re well on your way to starting your own mindfulness practice! To take the next step, check out this page for more of our unique mindfulness and wellness material that will help you both on and off the court! Click Here!
Kalindi Dinoffer is trained in multiple aspects of mindfulness in life and in sports, sharing on her blog MindfulKalindi.com. She is also certified to teach yoga, fitness, reiki, and MFR. Kalindi also serves as VP marketing at OnCourtOffCourt.com, a leading supplier of tennis, pickleball, fitness and yoga training aids and equipment and has been published in Tennis industry Magazine and Pickleball Magazine, and has conducted workshops at conferences around the world. In her spare time, Kalindi plays tennis, pickleball and table tennis and enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking and biking and cross country skiing in the winter.