Is it ok to “Decompress” during a game? Would it be considered walking out on your team? Is it ok to go to the locker room early to decompress and clear your head? Sometimes you need to relax your body and relax your mind. The basketball might not be going in the basket as frequent as you would like, the referees are calling fouls very tight, your mind keeps wandering during the game and it’s hard to focus in, your starting to loose your composure, etc. If you choose to decompress will teammates or fans see this as quitting on your team (leaving early for the locker room)? It’s a great tool to take a few deep breaths, decompress, clear your head for a minute or two and get right back at it again. Sports are very stressful. At times athletes need to blow off steam and get out of their own way. You start getting caught up in your head (between your ears), that constant self talk or negative talk can become detrimental to your performance.

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Is it best to leave the playing field or can you decompress during the actual game? Tough call, each situation, moment or event, will be different. Their are a lot of stop and goes and time during games to take a moment or breath: time outs, free throws, offense vs defense switches, before the ball is kicked or snapped, substitutes, fouls, quarter or halves, on the bench or sidelines, review of calls, etc. You can use these small or mini-breaks to take a few breathes, even close your eyes and re-center yourself. Sports are chaotic and require an extreme amount of focus. To keep that focus for the whole game on each and every plan is a challenge. Athletes are mentally tough but the moment or the self talk can turn against you. You need to be able to get yourself back before the wheels fall off. Turn the negative into positive and become present in the moment again. If your mind wanders to the past or future, your not in present moment, right here and right now. Start that positive self talk. Just Breathe!!!

Once that negative self-talk kicks in, the roll coaster is going downhill and starting to come off the tracks. This is where all the work in practice and off the court comes into play. Athletes need to practice yoga and meditation on a regular basis. They need a toll bag of skills to use during a game. They need that balance of yin and yang. The stillness is so opposite of what they are used to. To be able to find that in a game, is playing in the zone. It is possible to change your thoughts and reframe your mindset in a game? Each specific play can bring out a unique set of variables. Your reaction to each defines the outcome. If your in cloud nine, the play might of happened or several plays happened and you can’t recall those moments when your teammate asks about it. Our minds wander from time to time, actually quite often. We need to find a way to bring ourselves back into the present. The best way is through the breathe – take a few when your blood pressure starting boiling our the game starts getting out of hand. See if that changes anything. It’s hard to stay focused for the full ~45/60 minutes through out every single play of a game, which amounts to two or three hours in total.

 

Reference:

Kyle Lowry of Toronto Raptors says early 1st half exit was to ‘Decompress’