Mindfulness For Sport

Mindfulness For Sport is a free article by one of our Senior Sport Psychologists on the subtle differences between Mindfulness for Sport and Regular Mindfulness.

Mindfulness and Sport – Like Fish and Chips

Mindfulness For Sport

For most competitors, the ideal outcome is excellence over a long period of time …longevity and consistency.

It’s worth starting this short article on Mindfulness For Sport by clarifying a few things. The word performance tends to refer to the bit that is required under pressure of competition. Of course, there is a performance element to practice, but I find it easier to separate preparation from performance.


Because the ideal mindset for each is very different, on the one hand, preparation wants to be all about constant improvement. Going into a gym session, for example, it would be useful to know what physical areas will be targeted for improvement during the next 60 minutes.

This is in stark contrast to the optimal mindset for competition day. Wanting to improve on our previous performance is very rarely something that we have a lot of influence on. So, the ideal mindset for ‘the big dance’ is actually just turning up. Turning up combines trusting the previous preparation with being as present and mentally flexible as possible.  

It is absolutely possible to try too hard when you compete. 

You can read this entire article on The Law Of Reserve Effect for more on this.

How Does Performance Mindfulness Fit Into This?

Performance Mindfulness is not the same as regular mindfulness. Regular mindfulness is typically done for mental health benefits alone. And, of course, we now know that there is a strong association between mental health and performance, so indirectly, there should be a performance boost by doing anything to improve your MH.

But for mindfulness to have the kind of impact on performance that we want it to, it requires a few additional ingredients.

You need to treat ‘becoming better at being mindful/present’ as you would any other improvement area. It requires practice sessions, regular practice sessions. Going to the gym now and then is a waste of time. So, trying to be mindful/present once in a blue moon will also not achieve much.

Furthermore, you really want a combination of Synthetic and Organic mindfulness practice. Synthetic, for example, is the use of one of the many Mindfulness Apps. An alternative to these is using the Really Simple Mindfulness recording I created earlier this year.

Listen Or Download Below

Using one or both of these three times a week for a year ticks a significant box. But we want a clear link between doing that work and what you are required to do on the weekend.

The best way is to make some of your practice mentally harder on purpose. Maybe it’s a case of just moving your skills session to the hottest part of the day to increase the likelihood that your thoughts and feelings will try to distract you. The secret ingredient of synthetic mindfulness training is that it should increase your ability to simply notice uncomfortable thoughts and feelings while sticking to the task at hand.

It’s also possible to come up with mentally harder training sessions that have nothing to do with your actual sport. As most of my clients will know all too well, we often work together to design small exposure exercises that occur as part of everyday life. For example, one of my clients will start a conversation with a random person every time he goes to the supermarket. This can’t be with one of the staff, as this is too comfortable!


Most of the time, when we provide sport psychology tips via our blogs, it need not come with a warning. However, as per the above example, the concept of intentional exposure to uncomfortable situations is one of those rare scenarios where it would be far better for you to design this concept in collaboration with a regulated sport or performance psychologist.

If this is something you’d like to explore, then get in touch with our Admin Team via the Contact Form here, and one of the crew will get back to you within a few days to explain everything and anything about what we do at Condor Performance and how we can help you to take that next step (and the one after that and so on). 

For further reading on this topic, please click here to open a 2019 article on the same topic.

The Confidence Myth

The Confidence Myth is the notion that we generally tend to OVERVALUE how important confidence is in sport and performance. Read more here.

The Confidence Myth = You Need To Be Confident To Perform Well

What Is The Confidence Myth?

Let us start with a fact. You do not need to be confident in order to perform well. I know it feels like you do, but you don’t.

A feeling of confidence is not an essential ingredient to performance consistency and excellence. In other words, human beings are more than capable of performing very well with little or no confidence.

So, The Confidence Myth refers to anything that suggests otherwise. And I’m well aware that this will come as a major shock to many and may produce a bit of controversy around this article. If you disagree, then I recommend that you do the following. First of all, read this article twice in detail. Once you have done this, provide a counterargument via the comments section below, and I will do my best to respond as soon as possible. 

This Myth Is Very Entrenched

Many people involved in competitive domains will preach about the importance of being confident. I hope that this article goes someway to correcting this very common furphy.

If you Google quotes containing the word confidence, you will find thousands of statements from the past perpetuating this myth. There are some real stinkers out there. I will list just two of them:

“If you don’t have confidence, you’ll always find a way not to win.”

Carl Lewis

Sorry, Carl, I mean no disrespect, but this is completely incorrect.

“If you do not believe you can do it then you have no chance at all.”

Arsène Wenger

Sorry Arsène, but this is not true. Recent sports psychology research confirms this.

What Is Confidence Really?

Before going through why chasing confidence directly is risky, I thought learning more about the word itself would be worthwhile. The origin of the word confidence comes from Old French. Here is a screenshot from Etymonline:

The word trust appears a few times above, so this appears to be meaningful.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines confidence as “the quality of being certain of your abilities or having trust in people, plans, or the future”.

Hmm, more trust … with a pinch of certainty in there, too.

A Thought, A Feeling Or A Combination?

Putting confidence under the microscope from a psychological perspective is essential here. Some may experience ups and downs of confidence in a very cognitive way. In other words, being full of confidence will essentially be automatic thoughts like “I know I can do this”.

On the other hand, a lack of confidence will be mainly experienced via self-doubting thoughts. The most common might be “I suck, I know I’m going to fail etc”.

Others might experience variations in confidence in a much more emotional manner. This may be as simple as feeling confidence via bodily sensations, commonly associated with being relaxed. And on the other hand, feelings of underconfidence may show up as nervousness and the like.

How Do You Experience It?

In psychological flexibility frameworks such as ACT, thoughts, feelings, and actions are not as linked to one another as initially believed. In other words, you can feel hungry and not eat (an action). Or you can eat (action) whilst not feeling hungry. You can think about the consequences of missing the spare (ten-pin) but still execute your pre-bowling routine and start the ball on the ideal line (action).

Confidence is NOT an action.

PsychFlex is a big deal for us at Condor Performance. We attempt to help the performers develop skills that will allow them to execute their required actions and processes, regardless of how they are feeling and thinking at that time.

One way that it was explained to me many years ago, which I like, is that it removes a lot of unnecessary conditions that we inappropriately put on ourselves to perform well. 

I need A, B, C, D, E, X and Y to perform well! Wrong!!

In reality, it’s more like this:

To perform well, I need just A, B and C. With A getting there on time, B having the best possible pre-game prep, and C having your equipment. Of course, there is a strong argument that a certain amount of quality preparation would be useful, but come competition time, that’s all in the past.

Although I’ve referenced this throughout the years, I think it’s very important to use this article to clarify why “to perform well I need A, B, C, D, E, X and Y” is such a barrier to the Holy Grail of consistently excellent performances.

If D, E, X and Y are specific thoughts and feelings, and we know that our influence on these is tenuous at best, we will always struggle when those thoughts and feelings are not showing up in the way we’d like to. Not through lack of intent but as a natural byproduct of how the human mind works.

Examples Please!

Of course, you can try to think a particular way via some preparation or previous rehearsal. Maybe you are a cricket or baseball batter who likes to think, “Watch the ball” when the bowler or pitcher is about to release it. There is nothing wrong with using these cue words unless your actions of actually fixating on the ball depend on these three little words.

Unlike actions, such as the trigger movement, which after a certain number of repetitions becomes virtually guaranteeable – this mantra, as simple as it is, may actually abandon you when you need it more. Maybe the crowd is so loud that you cannot hear yourself think. Maybe the pressure is so high that your thoughts become self-protective in nature.

Interestingly, some high-performers have worked this out. In the short YouTube video clip, you get to hear from some outstanding cricket batters on what they are doing in order to watch the ball, but none of them actually reference saying “watch the ball”. 


It’s important for me to summarise by clarifying that a feeling of confidence is by no means a bad thing. In fact, in our latest definition of what performance mental toughness actually is (coming soon), we actually include confidence as something we regard as beneficial. But it’s crucial that we accept that any feelings of confidence are simply a natural by-product of us being competent. 

Since 2005, we have helped countless individuals and teams to improve their confidence, but we don’t do this talking about confidence directly. We have done this by assisting them in optimising their performance. And surprise surprise, greater confidence normally follows.

And this is exactly the approach we’d use with you if you decided to become one of our clients too! To make a formal enquiry about our 1-0n-1 performance psychology services, please Get In Touch via this form here.