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A brief mindfulness and yoga intervention with an entire NCAA Division I athletic team: An initial investigation

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Abstract

Whereas traditional sports psychology interventions emphasize controlling or reducing distress, mindfulness-based interventions teach tolerance and acceptance of negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions. In the present pilot study, an entire men’s Division I athletic team (n=13) provided voluntary consent and participated in a brief mindfulness-based intervention. Over 5 weeks, the team attended eight 90-min group intervention sessions immediately followed by 1-hr Hatha yoga sessions. Completer analyses showed that following the intervention, participants reported greater mindfulness, greater goal-directed energy, and less perceived stress than before the intervention. Compared with a nonrandomized control group (student athletes from various club sports; n=13), intervention participants reported greater goal-directed energy and mindfulness. We also explored written feedback from players to identify ways to improve the intervention. Implications for practitioners for improving mindfulness-based interventions are discussed.
Psychology of Consciousness: Theory,
Research, and Practice
A Brief Mindfulness and Yoga Intervention With an Entire
NCAA Division I Athletic Team: An Initial Investigation
Fallon R. Goodman, Todd B. Kashdan, Travis T. Mallard, and Mary Schumann
Online First Publication, August 11, 2014. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/cns0000022
CITATION
Goodman, F. R., Kashdan, T. B., Mallard, T. T., & Schumann, M. (2014, August 11). A Brief
Mindfulness and Yoga Intervention With an Entire NCAA Division I Athletic Team: An Initial
Investigation. Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice. Advance online
publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/cns0000022
A Brief Mindfulness and Yoga Intervention With an Entire NCAA
Division I Athletic Team: An Initial Investigation
Fallon R. Goodman, Todd B. Kashdan, Travis T. Mallard, and Mary Schumann
George Mason University
Whereas traditional sports psychology interventions emphasize controlling or reducing
distress, mindfulness-based interventions teach tolerance and acceptance of negative
thoughts, feelings, and emotions. In the present pilot study, an entire men’s Division I
athletic team (n13) provided voluntary consent and participated in a brief mindful-
ness-based intervention. Over 5 weeks, the team attended eight 90-min group inter-
vention sessions immediately followed by 1-hr Hatha yoga sessions. Completer anal-
yses showed that following the intervention, participants reported greater mindfulness,
greater goal-directed energy, and less perceived stress than before the intervention.
Compared with a nonrandomized control group (student athletes from various club
sports; n13), intervention participants reported greater goal-directed energy and
mindfulness. We also explored written feedback from players to identify ways to
improve the intervention. Implications for practitioners for improving mindfulness-
based interventions are discussed.
Keywords: mindfulness, intervention, athletes, acceptance and commitment, yoga
College student athletes represent a unique
group potentially at increased risk for emotional
and behavioral difficulties (Proctor & Boan-
Lenzo, 2010). In addition to juggling athletic
obligations, academic responsibilities, and in-
terpersonal relationships, student athletes often
are pressed to present the idealized public image
of a college student athlete (Heyman, 1986;
Parham, 1993). Several studies have shown that
student athletes, particularly those playing at
highly competitive levels, engage in riskier be-
haviors (e.g., drug use and binge drinking) com-
pared with their nonathlete peers (Marcello,
Danish, & Stolberg, 1989; Martens, Dams-
O’Connor, & Beck, 2006; Nelson & Wechsler,
2001; Yusko, Buckman, White, & Pandina,
2008). Given that athletic performance and
quality of life can be compromised by stress
unrelated to sports (Haney, 2004), psychologi-
cal interventions might be particularly useful
for athletes.
Traditional Psychological Interventions
With Athletes
Traditional sports psychology, commonly re-
ferred to as psychological skills training (PST;
Meichenbaum, 1977; Whelan, Mahoney, &
Meyers, 1991), emphasizes control of internal
states. Athletes are taught to control or reduce
unwanted thoughts, emotions, and sensations to
increase their potential for achieving an ideal
mental state conducive to optimum perfor-
mance (Hardy, Jones, & Gould, 1996). A pri-
mary assumption of PST is that decreases in
negative internal experiences (e.g., thoughts,
emotions) minimize distractions and enhance
opportunities for positive experiences and con-
fidence building. Unfortunately, studies have
reported inconsistent findings regarding
whether reductions in anxiety improve well-
being or athletic performance (for a review, see
Gardner & Moore, 2004).
Fallon R. Goodman, Todd B. Kashdan, Travis T. Mal-
lard, and Mary Schumann, Department of Psychology,
George Mason University.
Fallon R. Goodman and Todd B. Kashdan were finan-
cially supported by the Center for the Advancement of
Well-Being (CWB), George Mason University. Fallon R.
Goodman is Doctoral Fellow at CWB, and Todd B. Kash-
dan is a Senior Scientist at CWB.
Correspondence concerning this article should be ad-
dressed to Fallon R. Goodman, Department of Psychology,
MS 3F5 George Mason University, Fairfax, VA 22030.
E-mail: fgoodman@gmu.edu
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
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Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice © 2014 American Psychological Association
2014, Vol. 1, No. 3, 000 2326-5523/14/$12.00 http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/cns0000022
1
In fact, efforts to control or entirely suppress
negative experiences may be a suboptimal and
even counterproductive strategy for improving
athletes’ performance. An unwillingness to
maintain contact with unpleasant internal
thoughts and emotions is referred to as experi-
ential avoidance (Hayes, Wilson, Gifford, Fol-
lette, & Strosahl, 1996). Although avoiding un-
pleasant experiences can provide temporary
relief from distress, repeated attempts to elimi-
nate or suppress internal experiences often en-
gender a rebound effect of increasing such un-
wanted states (e.g., Farach, Mennin, Smith &
Mandelbaum, 2008; Kashdan et al., in press;
Marx & Sloan, 2005). When dysfunctional reg-
ulatory strategies are used, such as trying to
suppress negative emotions, limited cognitive
resources are depleted or exhausted, which in
turn impairs the ability to adapt to fluctuating
situational demands and promotes a rigid orien-
tation toward experiences called psychological
inflexibility. Such rigidity can hinder the pursuit
of valued and meaningful behavior (Hayes,
Strosahl, & Wilson, 1999), is associated with a
variety of mental health problems (see Kashdan
& Rottenberg, 2010 for a review), and may
ultimately be detrimental to athletic perfor-
mance. Accordingly, minimizing or eliminating
experiential avoidance and promoting psycho-
logical flexibility are potentially worthwhile
goals in improving athletic performance.
Mindfulness-Based Interventions With
Athletes
Recent psychological interventions for ath-
letes have turned away from approaches that
emphasize control of internal states (e.g., Daw
& Burton, 1994; Gould & Udry, 1994) in favor
of mindfulness and acceptance-based ap-
proaches. These latter interventions draw on
research from acceptance and commitment ther-
apy (ACT; Hayes, Strosahl, & Wilson, 1999) in
which the core message is to observe and accept
what is beyond one’s control or ability to
change and to commit to actions that are aligned
with personal values. ACT-based approaches
emphasize mindfulness, which is defined as
bringing conscious attention to the present mo-
ment in a receptive, curious manner (Bishop et
al., 2004; Kabat-Zinn, 2003). Individuals are
taught to engage in self-observation by inten-
tionally allowing thoughts, emotions, and
bodily sensations to occur without judgment,
allowing for greater engagement in life as it
naturally unfolds. Researchers have found that
self-reported levels of mindfulness are associ-
ated with adaptive emotion regulation strategies
(Feldman, Hayes, Kumar, Greeson, & Lau-
renceau, 2007), even after controlling for anxi-
ety, stress, and depression (Gratz & Roemer,
2004). Regular mindfulness practice can help
individuals become more adept at guiding at-
tention toward desired stimuli, allocating lim-
ited cognitive resources toward valued ends,
and improving task performance (Slagter et al.,
2007; Zeidan, Johnson, Diamond, David, &
Goolkasian, 2010). It is important to note that
mindful athletes are more likely to experience
flow, a state of energized focus and full involve-
ment, during athletic performance (Bernier,
Thienot, Codron, & Fournier, 2009; Jackson &
Csikszentmihalyi, 1999; Kee & Wang, 2008).
In one study of 13 university athletes, a 6-week
self-administered mindfulness training exercise
increased frequency and duration of flow states
(Aherne, Moran, & Lonsdale, 2011). In another
mindfulness-based intervention, athletes re-
ported increases in trait mindfulness and flow
and decreased task-related worries and task ir-
relevant thoughts (Thompson, Kaufman, De
Petrillo, Glass, & Arnkoff, 2011). Moreover,
researchers have found that regular mindfulness
practice is associated with improvements in
cognitive processing, such as attention orienta-
tion, executive attention, and working memory
(Jha, Stanley, Kiyonaga, Wong, & Gelfand,
2010; van den Hurk, Giommi, Gielen, Speck-
ens, & Barendregt, 2010). In short, training
student athletes in mindfulness and acceptance
might be a better alternative to enhancing per-
formance than more traditional PST.
The Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment
Approach
Gardner and Moore (2004, 2007) developed
the Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment
(MAC) program for athletes. As the name im-
plies, the MAC program has three main com-
ponents: mindfulness, acceptance, and commit-
ment. Participants first learn the foundations of
mindfulness through psychoeducation and
group discussions. They practice various expe-
riential exercises to learn how to more flexibly
attend and react to internal experiences. As ath-
2 GOODMAN, KASHDAN, MALLARD, AND SCHUMANN
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letes become increasingly aware of their inter-
nal experiences, they are in a better position to
understand how and when particular experi-
ences impede performance. Awareness facili-
tates understanding of the antecedents, conse-
quences, and contexts in which distress arises
and when it is helpful to rely on acceptance as
opposed to change strategies.
The MAC program places a strong emphasis
on values, which can be defined as guiding life
principles that influence daily decision making
and serve as the foundation of meaningful
goals. Because individuals do not have the ca-
pacity to highly value everything, given limited
personal resources, values are often prioritized
to determine which values are most important to
achieving relevant goals. The MAC program
helps student athletes evaluate their values
while making an important distinction between
goals and values. Whereas goals pertain to spe-
cific outcomes, values are continuously con-
structed dynamic patterns of behaviors. For ex-
ample, a basketball player may set the
achievable goal of scoring 20 points each game,
while he may value being a reliable, productive
team member; this value may guide his behav-
ior to achieve his goal. Unfortunately, negative
momentary thoughts and feelings often promote
emotion-driven behaviors that conflict and in-
terfere with adhering to values. Because emo-
tions—particularly negative ones—often derail
goal-related efforts, the MAC program teaches
athletes how to use mindfulness skills to in-
crease acceptance of unwanted internal experi-
ences. Accordingly, the basketball player can
learn how to accept unwanted feelings (e.g.,
anxiety) and commit to behavior (e.g., practic-
ing free throw shooting) that is in line with his
value of being a reliable teammate. Together,
awareness and acceptance build commitment
toward values-driven behavior.
Although the MAC approach is based on
empirically supported mindfulness- and accep-
tance-based therapies, research on the efficacy
of the MAC program is scant (for a review, see
Gardner & Moore, 2012). Two open trials have
been published: one with 11 collegiate-level
field hockey and volleyball athletes (Wolanin,
2005) and another with seven elite adolescent
golfers (Bernier et al., 2009). Three case studies
were reported with athletes from lacrosse,
swimming, and powerlifting teams (Gardner &
Moore, 2004; Lutkenhouse, 2007; Schwan-
hauser, 2009). Participants in these studies have
generally reported increased levels of mindful-
ness, acceptance, and flow, and several have
found increases in objective measures of ath-
letic performance (Bernier et al., 2009; Gardner
& Moore, 2004) and coaches’ evaluations (Lut-
kenhouse, Gardner, & Moore, 2007). Neverthe-
less, there has yet to be a peer-reviewed study of
the MAC program that includes a controlled
comparison group for team sports. Lutken-
house, Gardner, and Moore (2007) conducted a
large randomized control trial that compared
MAC with PST, but this remains unpublished,
and Bernier et al.’s (2009) controlled trial with
golfers did not evaluate the efficacy of the MAC
program in the context of team sports. The
primary goal of this study is to fill this gap and
contribute to the small but growing body of
literature regarding the efficacy of the MAC
intervention. Because we were especially inter-
ested in student athletes’ well-being, we in-
cluded multiple measures of psychological and
emotional functioning.
Yoga as Physical Practice of Mindfulness
Mindfulness practices can be taught through
mind–body exercises such as yoga. The central
message of yoga is to learn how to listen and
respond to bodily sensations. This awareness
helps individuals move to a comfortable “phys-
ical and mental space” while challenging their
body (Shiffmann, 1996). Various physical
poses and movements are used to increase
awareness of one’s physical and mental states.
Yoga practitioners are shown how to mindfully
focus their attention on the present moment.
Several studies have supported the physical and
psychological benefits of yoga. In a comprehen-
sive review of 81 studies that compared yoga to
other types of physical exercise (e.g., walking,
running, cycling), Ross and Thomas (2010)
found that yoga was equally or more effective at
improving multiple factors related to one’s
well-being, including decreased stress and fa-
tigue. Some of these benefits have been docu-
mented at a physiological level (e.g., decreased
cortisol; Kamei et al., 2000). More frequent
yoga practice has been associated with more
positive emotions, fewer negative emotions,
and increased satisfaction with life (Impett,
Daubenmier, & Hirschman, 2006), and some
studies have observed beneficial effects after a
3MINDFULNESS INTERVENTION WITH COLLEGE ATHLETE TEAM
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single yoga session (e.g., Telles, Gaur, &
Balkrishna, 2009). In addition, yoga-based in-
terventions have been associated with reduc-
tions in levels of depression and anxiety (Kirk-
wood, Rampes, Tuffrey, Richardson, &
Pilkington, 2005; Pilkington, Kirkwood,
Rampes, & Richardson, 2005). When compared
with contemplative practices that lack active
physical activity (e.g., body scanning, medita-
tion), researchers have found yoga to be more
effective at increasing mindfulness and well-
being and reducing perceived stress and anxiety
(Carmody & Baer, 2008).
The Present Study
In this study, we explored the utility, feasibility,
and potential efficacy of a comprehensive mind-
fulness intervention for student athletes. We eval-
uated whether a 5-week intervention could im-
prove the well-being of an entire men’s NCAA
Division I athletic team. We used Gardner and
Moore’s (2007) MAC program to teach athletes
how to be mindful and accepting of negative
thoughts, identify values, and commit to behaviors
that align with their values. We modified Gard-
ner’s original protocol in two ways. First, we
condensed the 8-week protocol (one session per
week) to 5 weeks (two sessions each week, one
session the first and last weeks) to increase the
feasibility and practicality of delivering the inter-
vention. Second, student athletes participated in
60-min yoga classes after each session to incor-
porate more physical movement into the interven-
tion.
Method
Participants
Participants were 26 college student athletes (M
age 20.23, SD 1.53). For the experimental
group, an entire NCAA Division I male Varsity
team (13 student athletes) participated in the in-
tervention (Mage 20.08, SD 1.26). Eleven
(84.6%) of the participants were African Ameri-
can, 1 (7.7%) participant was Caucasian, and 1
(7.7%) participant identified as other. This study
was approved by the university’s institutional re-
view board and the Director of Athletics. Before
the intervention, researchers met with the student
athletes (without coaching staff) to introduce the
program and address any concerns. Participants
were told that their choice to participate would not
affect their standing with their athletic team or the
university, and at no point would their individual
data be shared with coaching personnel.
Written consent was obtained from all partici-
pants. Although all participants completed the in-
tervention, one participant did not complete pre-
program questionnaires, and four participants did
not complete postprogram questionnaires. Thus,
our final sample for analyses in the experimental
group was eight. Those who did not complete
postprogram questionnaires did not significantly
differ from those completed the questionnaires on
any of the baseline measures.
Because of our small sample size and the
exploratory nature of this pilot study, we chose
not to use imputation methods for missing data.
Nonetheless, our results should be interpreted
with this consideration.
To evaluate whether any effects were because
of the presence of an intervention, we recruited an
additional group of student athletes. The control
group consisted of 13 male student athletes from
club sports teams (Mage 20.38, SD 1.80).
Six (46.2%) of the participants were Caucasian, 4
(30.8%) participants were Asian, 2 (15.4%) par-
ticipants were Hispanic, and 1 (7.7%) participant
was African American. Participants in the control
group filled out pre- and postquestionnaires but
did not participate in the intervention. They were
recruited from club sports teams (via flyers) from
the same university to maximize similarity with
the experimental group. Although club teams
compete at a less competitive level than varsity
teams, they often have similar time and energy
demands.
Procedure
Participants in the experimental group were
recruited in coordination with the campus ath-
letic department.
1
Over 5 weeks, the team
attended eight 90-min mindfulness-based ses-
sions, each followed by 60-min Hatha yoga
sessions. All sessions were voluntary, and
participation had no influence on the partici-
pants’ standing with their respective athletic
teams or the university. To determine the
efficacy of the intervention, participants com-
1
Our research team coordinated with athletic department
to offer the intervention to all athletic teams. We chose
teams based on interest and availability.
4 GOODMAN, KASHDAN, MALLARD, AND SCHUMANN
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pleted self-report measures before and after
the intervention. Participants in the control
group were recruited through campus flyers
and Listserv emails for a “study investigating
the relationship between psychological pro-
cesses and student athletes’ well-being.” Con-
trol group participants completed all mea-
sures at two time points 5 weeks apart, but
they did not participate in the intervention.
They were compensated $20 for completing
the measures.
MAC intervention. Two experienced fa-
cilitators led each MAC session. We followed
the procedures outlined in Gardner and
Moore’s (2007) protocol (see Table 1 for a
summary). Instructor 1 has a doctorate in
clinical psychology and is a licensed clinical
psychologist. She has taught university-level
courses on meditation, mindfulness, and
sports psychology. Instructor 2 is a registered
yoga instructor at the 500-hr level and holds
professional certifications in positive psy-
chology and advanced coaching. She is the
director of a mindfulness living learning pro-
gram and has taught university level courses
on the science and application of mind–body
integration. Participants received homework
assignments at the end of each session. These
assignments were voluntary (although en-
couraged), and no data were collected on ad-
herence or effectiveness.
Session 1: Introducing mindfulness.
Group instructors introduced the MAC ap-
proach and provided an explanation of funda-
mental concepts of mindfulness. Instructors ex-
plained that by being mindfully aware, one is
better able to accept negative internal experi-
ences (e.g., anxiety, anger) while attending to
the external environment (e.g., taking a foul
shot). The instructors then led the Brief Center-
ing Exercise, where participants attended to
their breath, switched their attention to their
surroundings, then back to their body. The goal
is to learn how to flexibly move one’s attention
between internal and external sensations. The
suggested homework was to practice and record
mindful breathing (brief periods of focusing
only on the breath, allowing thoughts to come
and go, and to bring attention back to the
breath). Participants were also asked to com-
plete a worksheet, What I Have Learned About
Performance and Myself, in which they re-
flected on what they learned during the session
and how it related to their performance.
Session 2: Introducing cognitive defusion.
Group instructors began the session with the
Brief Centering Exercise to reinforce a pat-
tern of mindful-based behavior. Instructors
introduced the concept of cognitive fusion,
which is when thoughts and feelings are seen
as truth rather than subjective experiences.
Thoughts and feelings are “fused” with reality
(“I think I am worthless, therefore I truly am
worthless”), so that individuals are unable to
view themselves as experiencing thoughts as
“just thoughts or feelings” and exhaust lim-
ited cognitive resources in the process. One
goal of mindfulness is to create cognitive
defusion, which is a state of mind character-
ized by psychological distance from subjec-
tive experiences (Blackledge, 2007). This dis-
tance allows one to see thoughts and feelings
as fleeting psychological states rather than
factual interpretations of reality. As an exam-
ple, the instructors presented three state-
ments: “I am a loser,” “I think I am a loser,”
and “I am having the thought that I am a
loser.” Participants used this framework to
recall thoughts and feelings about a recent
event and differentiate between “having a
thought versus believing the thought.” Sug-
gested homework was to use mindfulness dur-
ing a simple daily activity (e.g., eating, brush-
ing teeth). The session concluded with the
Brief Centering Exercise.
Session 3: Introducing values and values-
driven behavior. In Session 3, to illustrate
how values can guide meaningful behavior
(like a compass), the instructors introduced
values-driven behavior. Values-driven behav-
iors are actions that are in line with one’s
values (e.g., doing 30 min of cardio training
to improve conditioning despite fatigue),
whereas emotion-driven behaviors are actions
in response to emotions and may not be in line
with one’s values (e.g., avoiding training be-
cause the athlete finds it difficult). Partici-
pants identified a situation, the emotions it
triggered, what they did to try control the
emotions, and the short- and long-term effects
of trying to control the emotions. The session
concluded with the Mindfulness of the Breath
Exercise, an extension of the Brief Centering
Exercise, in which individuals continuously
focus on their breath while noticing the flow
5MINDFULNESS INTERVENTION WITH COLLEGE ATHLETE TEAM
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Table 1
Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment Intervention Session Content
Session theme Session goals Psychoeducation Experiential exercises Suggested homework
Session 1: Introduction Develop rapport, introduce
foundational concepts Rationale of mindfulness, acceptance,
and commitment; acknowledging
negative thoughts–feelings
Brief centering exercise Mindfulness of breath practice,
what I have learned about
performance and myself
Session 2: Mindfulness Introduce concept of
cognitive defusion,
discuss perceived
stressors
Having vs. believing a thought Progressive muscle relaxation;
visualize thoughts,
emotions, and reactions to
past event
Mindful walking, self-
monitoring of mindfulness
practice
Session 3: Goals and
values Differentiate values from
goals, clarify individual
and group values and
goals
Value-driven vs. emotion-driven
behavior Reflective writing, discussion
in pairs, mindfulness of
breath
Mindful athletic activity, given
up for emotions form
Session 4: Experiential
acceptance Introduce concept of
experiential acceptance Function of anxiety Recall stressful event with
awareness of bodily
reaction, mindfulness of
breath
Emotion and performance
interference form
Session 5: Commitment Introduce commitment as
ongoing process Commitment as a process Seeing exercise commitment
to values, exercise
mindfulness of breath
Mindfulness practice relevant
to performance goals
Session 6: Behavioral
flexibility Introduce concept of
behavioral flexibility Tolerance of negative affect Task-focused attention Use mindfulness in high-
intensity situation, task-
focused attention exercise
outside of class
Identify different responses
to challengesidentify
different responses to
challenges
Fixed vs. growth mindset Exercise body scan
Session 7: Skill
consolidation Integrate learned concepts How to apply mindfulness to novel
activities Brief centering exercise task-
focused attention exercise Task-focused attention activity
during athletic practice
Session 8: Skill
maintenance Encourage athletes to
apply skills in athletic
performance and
everyday situations
Benefits of practicing mindfulness Mindfulness of breath Post-MAC practice plan form
6 GOODMAN, KASHDAN, MALLARD, AND SCHUMANN
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of air going in and out of the body and the
abdomen rising and falling. Suggested home-
work was to use mindfulness during a specific
athletic activity (e.g., throwing, catching).
Session 4: Costs of avoidance and benefits
of acceptance. Session 4 began with the
Mindfulness of the Breath Exercise. The in-
structors then introduced the concepts of expe-
riential avoidance and acceptance. They ex-
plained that experiential avoidance is the
effortful attempt to control or eliminate un-
wanted negative thoughts and emotions,
whereas experiential acceptance is the willing-
ness to experience (i.e., not try to change) un-
wanted private events in the pursuit of one’s
values and goals. An imagery exercise was used
to relate these concepts to athletic performance.
Participants were invited to recall a situation in
which they found it difficult or stressful to per-
form well, and to use personally relevant imag-
ery to increase awareness and acceptance of
bodily reactions to negative experiences. For
homework, participants received the Emotion
and Performance Interference Form and were
encouraged to record performance situations
and assess how their emotions interfered with
performance. The session concluded with
Mindfulness of the Breath Exercise.
Session 5: Enhancing commitment.
Session 5 began with the Brief Centering Exer-
cise. To initiate a discussion about commitment,
participants received a handout about growth
mindset versus fixed mindset.
2
The handout ex-
plained that a growth mindset is an orientation
toward embracing challenges, persisting
through setbacks, and learning from experi-
ences. A fixed mindset, in contrast, is an orien-
tation toward avoiding challenges, easily giving
up, and ignoring feedback. Instructors used
open-ended questions to prompt reflection, in-
cluding, “What progress have I made today?”
and “Am I standing in the way of my potential
or trying to avoid difficult emotions?” Partici-
pants completed the Committing to Values ex-
ercise, in which they identified a performance
value, short-term and long-term goals associ-
ated with that value, and a behavioral change to
achieve desired performance. The suggested
homework was to apply mindfulness practices
relevant to identified performance goals. The
session concluded with the Mindfulness of the
Breath Exercise.
Session 6: Enhancing flexibility. Session 6
began with the Brief Centering Exercise. Par-
ticipants then paired up and completed the
Task-Focused Attention Exercise, in which they
learned how to redirect their attention from in-
ternal processes (emotions or thoughts) to an
external task. For the Task-Focused Attention
Exercise, one partner shared a story while the
other listened but made no eye contact. Then,
the listening partner recalled the story in as
much detail as possible, while simultaneously
identifying what additional internal or external
stimuli in which he or she was simultaneously
aware. Pairs repeated this process until the lis-
tening partner correctly identified at least 50%
of the story’s details. Participants then created
opposite action plans in which they identified
what they were avoiding (e.g., lifting weights),
then created plans to actively pursue them (e.g.,
schedule an even longer period of time to lift
weights). The suggested homework was to use
mindfulness in high-intensity performance situ-
ations (e.g., athletic games) and to complete a
Task-Focused Attention Exercise outside of
session. The session concluded with the Body
Scan Exercise, in which participants attended to
their breath then progressively moved their at-
tention from one area of the body to another.
Session 7: Attention and reinforcing
mindfulness. Session 7 began with the Brief
Centering Exercise. Participants then completed
a Task-Focused Attention Exercise in pairs.
One person counted backward from 100 by 7s
(serial 7s) while they simultaneously listened to
their partner tell a story. The goal was to im-
prove attention to a specific task despite in-
creases in cognitive demand. Participants were
asked to envision a sporting situation and ex-
plain how they could best direct their attention.
They discussed the different types of attention
necessary in sports (e.g., broad, external atten-
tion such as sizing up the whole court, and
narrow, external attention such as focusing on
catching the ball). The suggested homework
was to engage in a Task-Focused Attention Ex-
ercise during an upcoming athletic practice.
Session 8: Maintaining and enhancing
mindfulness, acceptance, and commitment.
Session 8 began with the Mindfulness of Breath
2
Instructors included this supplemental handout. It is not
included in Gardner and Moore’s (2007) original protocol.
7MINDFULNESS INTERVENTION WITH COLLEGE ATHLETE TEAM
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Exercise. The group then discussed a final re-
view of the intervention. Participants paired up
to discuss how they planned to achieve their
individual performance goals, which was fol-
lowed by a group discussion on how to achieve
team goals. Participants completed the Post-
MAC Practice Plan Form to assess performance
values, goals, obstacles, and avoidant behav-
iors. They were encouraged to use the form to
monitor progress, identify areas for improve-
ment, and use their teammates for support. The
final session concluded with Mindfulness of the
Breath.
Yoga. After each mindfulness session, par-
ticipants attended a 60-min group yoga session.
An instructor certified at the 225-hr level led
Hatha yoga sessions. Hatha yoga refers to a
series of physical exercises known as asanas or
bodily postures that are designed to build phys-
ical and mental strength. The word hatha means
willful or forceful, which refers to the goal of
increasing stamina, strength, and flexibility
through long asanas. Each yoga session began
with a brief welcome during which participants
shared their overall mood and stress. They
warmed up with breathing exercises and low
intensity stretches and then completed a series
of rhythmic exercises, balancing and focus
poses, groin stretches, and restorative poses.
Session closed with a 2-min meditation in a
comfortable pose.
3
Measures
Mindfulness. The Mindful Attention and
Awareness Scale (MAAS; Brown & Ryan,
2003) was used to assess the frequency of mind-
ful states in everyday life. The MAAS consists
of 15 items (e.g., “I find it difficult to stay
focused on what’s happening in the present”)
that assess dispositional mindfulness and are
rated on a scale ranging from 1 (almost always)
to6(almost never). The psychometric validity
of the MAAS is well-supported (Brown &
Ryan, 2003; MacKillop & Anderson, 2007) and
demonstrates incremental validity in uniquely
predicting enhanced self- awareness and psy-
chological well-being above related constructs.
Construct validity has been demonstrated in
predicting changes in mindfulness levels fol-
lowing mindfulness training (Chambers, Lo, &
Allen, 2008) and reductions in stress and rumi-
nation (Shapiro, Oman, Thoresen, Plante, &
Flinders, 2008).
Tolerance of negative affect. The 25-item
Tolerance of Negative Affect States Scale
(TNASS; Bernstein & Brantz, 2012) was used
to assess the capacity to experience and with-
stand specific negative psychological states.
Items are rated on a scale ranging from 1 (very
intolerant)to5(very tolerant). The TNASS
contains 6 state-specific subscales: tolerance of
fear/distress, tolerance of sadness/depression,
tolerance of anger, tolerance of disgust, toler-
ance of anxiety/apprehension, and tolerance of
negative social emotional emotions. Factor
analyses have validated the use of these sub-
scale scores, and the full scale had demonstrated
acceptable convergent and discriminant validity
(Bernstein & Brantz, 2012).
Experiential avoidance. The 17-item Ac-
ceptance and Action Questionnaire Version–II
(AAQ-II; Bond et al., 2011) was used to assess
psychological inflexibility (i.e., experiential
avoidance). The AAQ-II assesses the degree to
which one is able and likely to tolerate un-
wanted internal experiences (e.g., “My painful
memories prevent me from having a fulfilling
life”). Items are rated on a scale ranging from 1
(never true)to7(always true). Construct valid-
ity has been demonstrated in studies predicting
coping with chronic pain (McCracken & Zhao-
O’Brien, 2010) and problematic alcohol use
(Levin et al., 2012). Additional analyses have
concluded that the AAQ-II is a valid and reli-
able measure of psychology inflexibility (Fled-
derus, Oude Voshaar, ten Klooster, & Bohlmei-
jer, 2012).
Goal motivation. The Adult Hope Scale
(AHS; Snyder et al., 1991) was used to assess
hope, defined as a positive motivational state
3
Detailed description of yoga sessions: (a) Welcome:
Each participant shared overall mood and stress. (b) Warm-
up: centering activity (seated breathing or mountain pose),
cat–cow poses, side stretches, three-part breathing exer-
cises, sun salutations (with chair pose). (c) Warrior series
flow: Warrior I, Warrior II, variations of extended side
angle pose, variations of prayer pose. (d) Balancing–focus–
confidence building poses: Crane, Tree, Warrior III, Eagle
pose, Boat pose. (e) Groin stretches: lunges, garland pose,
goddess pose. (f) Restorative poses: spinal twists, child’s
pose, choice of legs up the wall pose or corpse pose with
guided meditations (5–10 min). (f) Closing: easy pose or
half lotus pose with 2-min meditation, appreciations (Na-
maste).
8 GOODMAN, KASHDAN, MALLARD, AND SCHUMANN
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oriented toward achieving goals. The AHS con-
sists of two four-item subscales: Agency, or
goal-directed energy (e.g., “I energetically pur-
sue my goals”) and Pathway, or goal planning
(e.g., “I can think of many ways to get the
things in life that are important to me”). Items
are rated on a scale ranging from 1 (definitely
false)to8(definitely true). Good construct va-
lidity and reliability have been demonstrated in
studies predicting coping strategies for individ-
uals diagnosed with breast cancer (Sears, Stan-
ton, & Danoff-Burg, 2003) and college stu-
dents’ athletic performance (Curry, Snyder,
Cook, Ruby, & Rehm, 1997).
Perceived stress. The Perceived Stress
Scale (PSS; Cohen, Kamarck, & Mermelstein,
1983) was used to assess the amount of per-
ceived stress an individual has felt in the past
month. The PSS consists of 14 items (e.g., “In
the last month, how often have you been upset
because of something that happened unex-
pectedly?”), rated on a scale ranging from 0
(never)to4(very often). Predictive validity of
the PSS has been demonstrated with depres-
sion, engagement in healthy behavior, and use
of health services (Cohen & Williamson,
1988).
Commitment to values. The Valued Liv-
ing Questionnaire (VLQ; Wilson et al., 2011)
was used to assess commitment to values
across 10 life domains (e.g., family, friend-
ships, recreation, employment, spirituality).
The VLQ consists of two 10-item subscales
that measure the importance and consistency
an individual places on each life domain.
Items are rated on a scale ranging from 1 (not
at all important or not at all consistent)to10
(extremely important or extremely consis-
tent). A composite score (Importance Con-
sistency) can also be computed, which helps
quantify the extent to which one is living out
particular values. Construct validity and ac-
ceptable reliability have been demonstrated in
studies predicting quality of life (Michelson,
Lee, Orsillo, & Roemer, 2011) and response
to ACT-based therapy for anxiety (Hayes,
Orsillo, & Roemer, 2010).
Grit. The Short Grit Scale (Grit-S; Duck-
worth & Quinn, 2009) was used to assess
psychological grit, a trait-like perseverance
and passion for long-term goals. The Grit-S
consists of eight items (e.g., “New ideas and
projects sometimes distract me from previous
ones”), rated on a scale ranging from 1 (very
much like me)to5(not like me at all). The
Grit-S has demonstrated construct validity in
studies predicting spelling bee performance
(Duckworth, Kirby, Tsukayama, Berstein, &
Ericsson, 2011), military cadets’ performance
(Eskreis-Winkler, Duckworth, Shulman, &
Beal, 2014), and teacher effectiveness (Duck-
worth, Quinn, & Seligman, 2009).
Cognitive defusion. The Drexel Defusion
Scale (DDS; Forman et al., 2012) was used to
assess the ability to achieve psychological dis-
tance (i.e., defuse) from thoughts and feelings.
The DDS consists of 10 items (e.g., “...Towhat
extent would you normally be able to defuse from
feelings of anger?”), rated on a scale ranging from
0(not at all)to5(very much). The DSS has
demonstrated good psychometric properties, with
a one-factor structure, good internal consistency,
and high convergent validity in both clinical and
nonclinical samples. Construct validity has been
shown in predicting improvements in psycholog-
ical functioning for individuals seeking psycho-
logical treatment (Forman et al., 2012).
Psychological distress. The 21-item De-
pression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS-21;
Henry & Crawford, 2005) was used to assess
baseline psychological distress on three di-
mensions: depression, anxiety, and stress.
The DASS-21 prompts individuals to rate the
frequency to which statements about psycho-
logical distress apply on a scale ranging from
0(never)to4(almost always). The DASS-21
has demonstrated reliability as a single factor
(␣⫽.93), and the three subscales also dem-
onstrate acceptable reliability (.88 for Depres-
sion, .82 for Anxiety, and .90 for Stress). The
DASS-21 has also shown good construct va-
lidity (Henry & Crawford, 2005) and good
internal consistency in both community and
clinical samples and across multiple racial
groups (Antony, Bieling, Cox, Enns, & Swin-
son, 1998; Norton, 2007).
Written feedback. We collected written
feedback following the intervention to explore
which components of the program worked best
and what improvements could be made when de-
signing future interventions. Participants re-
sponded to two free-response questions: “What
part of this training do you think will help you
most with your athletic performance?” and “What
feedback, if any, would you like to offer the in-
structors?”
9MINDFULNESS INTERVENTION WITH COLLEGE ATHLETE TEAM
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Results
Experimental Group
We conducted separate repeated-measures t
tests to examine changes from before and after the
intervention (see Table 2).
4
Given the small sam-
ple size, we conducted effect-size estimates using
Cohen’s d. Following the intervention, partici-
pants in the experimental group reported greater
mindfulness, t(8) ⫽⫺2.88, p.05, d0.48 and
goal-directed energy, t(8) ⫽⫺3.37, p.05, d
0.98, than before the intervention. These effects
were medium to large and large, respectively.
Participants also reported less perceived stress,
t(8) 2.57, p.05, d0.26, a significant but
small effect. We also report findings at trending
levels of significance to guide future research en-
deavors to replicate or extend our findings. We
found a trend for tolerance of negative affect, such
that participants reported greater tolerance of dis-
gust, t(8) ⫽⫺2.20, p.06, d0.50, and states
of anxiety and apprehension, t(8) ⫽⫺1.94, p
.09, d0.61. Although neither of these effects
was significant, the analyses yielded medium ef-
fect sizes. No statically significant differences
were found for the other tolerance of negative
affect subscales: fear-distress, sadness-depression,
anger and negative social emotions (ps.40). We
also found a trend for the importance of valued
living, such that following the intervention, par-
ticipants reported greater importance of valued life
domains, t(8) 1.97, p.09, d0.76. Consis-
tency of behavior, however, did not change,
t(8) 0.43, p.68, d0.18. Although we
found no significant differences in composite
scores, t(8) 0.98, p.36, d1.17, analyses
yielded a large effect size. No differences in re-
ported grit or experiential avoidance were evident.
Group Comparisons
Baseline comparisons revealed that the
groups did not differ in levels of anxiety, stress,
or depression (from DASS subscales), with the
experimental group reporting relatively low lev-
els of anxiety (M0.79, SD 0.51), stress
(M0.97, SD 0.49), and depression (M
0.69, SD 0.51), comparable to the control
group: anxiety (M0.64, SD 0.36), stress
(M0.83, SD 0.47), and depression (M
0.65, SD 0.59); all ps.30.
Consistent with expectations for the control
group, we found no significant changes from
pre- to postassessment for any measure (ps
.05). Repeated-measures analyses of variance
(ANOVAs) revealed that compared with the
control group, participants in the experimental
group reported a greater increase in mindful-
ness, F(1, 19) 4.55, p.05, and goal-
directed energy, F(1, 19) 4.94 p.05.
Written Feedback
We explored written excerpts from players (see
Table 3) to identify directions for future interven-
tions. We used a simple count of subject words to
identify themes in responses. In response to the
question, “What part of this training do you think
will help you most with your athletic perfor-
mance?” six players wrote “focus,” “focusing,” or
“shift.” Statements containing these words per-
tained to refocusing or shifting attention to the
present moment. Two players wrote either “team”
or “teammates.” In response to the question,
“What feedback, if any, would you like to offer
the instructors?” Four players wrote “more activ-
ity,” “more hands on activities,” or “mindful ac-
tivity.” Statements containing these words per-
tained to incorporating more experiential activities
into the intervention.
Discussion
This pilot study provides preliminary support
for the utility and feasibility of a brief mindful-
ness-based and yoga intervention for student
athletes. Following the intervention, student
athletes from a men’s NCAA Division I athletic
team reported greater mindfulness, greater goal-
4
Given our small sample size and missing data, we
addressed issues of nonnormally distributed data by con-
ducting nonparametric tests for all research questions. We
found identical effects. To examine prepost changes within
each group, we conducted Wilcoxon signed-rank tests. Par-
ticipants from the experimental group reported greater
mindfulness (z2.03, p.05), greater goal-directed
energy (z2.56, p.05), less perceived stress (z2.06,
p.05), and greater tolerance of disgust (z1.79, p
.05). At trending of levels of significance, participants re-
ported greater tolerance of anxiety and apprehension (z
1.79, p.07) and greater importance of valued living (z
1.86, p.06). No significant differences were found for
control group participants. To compare changes between the
two groups, we conducted Mann–Whitney Utests. Experi-
mental group participants reported greater increase in mind-
fulness (z2.10, p.05) and goal-directed energy (z
1.95, p.052).
10 GOODMAN, KASHDAN, MALLARD, AND SCHUMANN
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Table 2
Well-Being Indicators for Experimental and Control Groups Before and After the Intervention
Variable
Experimental group Control group
Pre M(SD) Post M(SD)tdCI for dPre M(SD) Post M(SD)tdCI for d
Mindfulness 3.60 (1.13) 4.08 (0.85) 2.88
0.48 [0.03, 0.93] 4.08 (0.90) 3.88 (1.07) 0.88 0.20 [0.30, 0.70]
DT Fear–distress 3.34 (0.83) 3.53 (0.49) 0.78 0.23 [0.55, 1.01] 3.57 (0.67) 3.58 (1.06) 0.03 0.01 [0.57, 0.55]
DT Sadness–
depression 3.12 (1.11) 3.46 (0.50) 0.73 0.38 [0.91, 1.67] 3.38 (1.00) 3.36 (1.10) 0.1 0.02 [0.51, 0.55]
DT Anger 3.30 (0.81) 3.58 (0.71) 0.70 0.32 [1.01, 1.65] 3.64 (1.13) 3.62 (1.27) 0.13 0.02 [0.33, 0.37]
DT Disgust 3.38 (0.79) 3.83 (0.80) 2.20
0.50 [0.20, 1.20] 3.49 (0.88) 3.59 (1.09) 0.37 0.10 [0.70, 0.50]
DT Anxiety–
apprehension 3.12 (1.10) 3.69 (0.65) 1.94
0.61 [0.18, 1.40] 3.50 (0.89) 3.62 (1.08) 0.32 0.12 [0.92, 0.68]
DT Negative social
emotions 3.31 (0.76) 3.25 (0.68) 0.34 .07 [0.53, 0.67] 3.21 (0.92) 3.38 (1.13) .84 0.17 [0.60, 0.26]
Experiential
avoidance 2.91 (1.02) 2.48 (1.23) 1.08 0.41 [0.45, 1.27] 2.12 (0.67) 2.26 (1.11) 0.47 0.15 [0.85, 0.55]
Goal directed
energy 6.63 (0.58) 7.34 (0.46) 3.37
0.98 [0.16, 2.12] 6.77 (0.63) 6.83 (0.96) 0.30 0.07 [0.53, 0.39]
Goal planning 6.81 (0.83) 6.81 (1.26) 0 0 [1.10, 1.10] 6.73 (0.66) 6.75 (0.96) 0.11 0.02 [0.42, 0.38]
Perceived stress 1.79 (0.62) 1.57 (0.76) 2.57
0.26 [0.01, 0.53] 1.59 (0.53) 1.67 (0.49) 0.36 0.11 [0.71, 0.49]
VL Importance 7.11 (1.95) 8.09 (1.4) 1.97
0.76 [0.06, 1.58] 7.09 (1.64) 7.75 (1.52) 1.24 0.53 [0.24, 1.30]
VL Consistency 6.97 (2.12) 7.23 (2.09) 0.43 .18 [0.53, 0.89] 7.50 (1.73) 7.88 (1.49) 0.88 0.30 [0.29, 0.89]
VL Composite 58.20 (28.39) 64.30 (25.67) 0.98 1.17 [0.26, 2.08] 58.19 (21.75) 66.42 (19.24) 1.23 1.82 [0.74, 2.90]
Grit 3.84 (0.68) 3.95 (0.56) 1.18 0.14 [0.20, 0.48] 3.42 (0.59) 3.48 (0.67) 0.49 0.08 [0.48, 0.32]
Cognitive defusion 3.03 (0.72) 3.21 (1.03) 0.64 0.19 [0.57, 0.95] 2.79 (0.69) 3.01 (0.92) 1.46 0.25 [0.63, 0.13]
Note. Pre before the intervention; Post after the intervention; CI for dconfidence interval for effect size; DT distress tolerance; VL valued living.
p.10.
p.05.
11MINDFULNESS INTERVENTION WITH COLLEGE ATHLETE TEAM
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directed energy, and less perceived stress than
before the intervention. Participants also re-
ported greater tolerance of negative experiences
(at trending levels of significance), such that
participants reported greater comfort with dis-
gust and anxiety after the intervention. To en-
sure any effects found were because of the inter-
vention, as a control comparison group, athletes
from various club sports teams from the same
university completed the same questionnaires at
Table 3
Student Athletes’ Written Feedback About the Intervention
Prompt Response
What part of this training do you
think will help you most with
your athletic performance?
The part that would help me the most is the mental exercises where we
close our eyes and concentrate. Also learning how to shift our
attention to the task at hand.
I think that learning how to control my thoughts will help me the most
as far as my athletic performance goes. The way of noticing what
I’m doing and being able to shift at the moment will be a lifesaver.
I think that the meditation and refocusing will keep improving my
performance. A big part of why I may not perform as well as I want
to is that I am beating myself up or anxious. Just accepting the
anxiety and refocusing to the task at hand and being confident in my
abilities.
The mindfulness-acceptance-commitment training was very helpful. I
think it will help me during the season. Now when I make mistakes
I will not focus on the mistake, I will let it go. This program helped
me focus on the bigger picture. When I make a mistake I will tune
out the negative and focus more on to the next play.
I think that having a team sit together and talk to each other and get to
learn more about the individual is what allows the team to come
closer. Also being able to hear everybody individual goals and team
goals.
Knowing what my teammates goals are so I can help them accomplish
them. Also being able to control my breathing.
Focusing on the present moment. Being able to recognize my thoughts/
acceptance/avoidance.
I think what will help me most is being able to refocus my attention.
Not only in [specific sport], but being able to focus on everyday
tasks. When and if I find myself wandering, I will challenge myself
to focus on the task at hand.
What feedback, if any, would
you like to offer the
instructors?
No feedback in particular. I think they did a great job and tried to
understand the mindset of every person in the room. I enjoy the
class and they weren’t judgmental of any of the information we
shared.
I don’t have anything negative to say, but keep up the wonderful work.
This program was very boring at times. I think the centering exercises
need to be shorter because I tend to lose focus fast. I think that there
needs to be more activity instead of all just talking.
I think that the instructors did a great job and helped us stay positive
and also made it fun for us.
As far as what could be changed I think that more hands on activities
would be great. Maybe some “mindful” games that will help us to
focus our attention or center ourselves. Maybe more videos on
particular studies done of different mindfulness practices.
More hands on activities for the players to do so we can stay engaged
I would love to continue this program. I think this will help me and
my teammates out.
I enjoyed the idea of the program but the actual sessions were not as
interactive as I expected it to be. There was a lot of discussion about
what “mindfulness” is, but not much mindful activity besides the
opening and closing. It would be cool if the training sessions were
conducted somehow incorporated the actual sport.
12 GOODMAN, KASHDAN, MALLARD, AND SCHUMANN
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the pre- and postintervals. Student athletes who
completed the intervention reported greater in-
creases in goal-directed energy and mindfulness
than did student athletes in the control group. In
written feedback following the intervention, sev-
eral players wrote that the mindfulness activities
were the most helpful part of the intervention and
suggested that incorporating more hands-on exer-
cises would improve the intervention.
Consistent with expectations, participants re-
ported greater levels of mindfulness following
the intervention and compared with a control
group. Participants learned foundations of
mindfulness and practiced skills during each
session. The efficacy of mindfulness interven-
tions is well supported (Roemer & Orsillo,
2009), and participants have reported increased
levels of mindfulness in a short period of time
(e.g., Erisman, & Roemer, 2010; Zeidan et al.,
2010). We also found that participants were
better able to tolerate negative experiences (spe-
cifically, negative affect and disgust) following
the intervention, although this effect did not
reach statistical significance. A primary feature
of mindfulness is to allow experiences to occur
without judgment and accept them as they nat-
urally unfold. More specifically, an open and
receptive attitude promotes acceptance of neg-
ative internal states (Kabat-Zinn, 1990; Shapiro,
Carlson, Astin, & Freedman, 2006; Teasdale,
1999). Such openness is important for athletes,
as the hallmark of competitive sporting environ-
ments is fluctuating demands and opportunities
to fall short of such demands and experience
failure (e.g., missing a shot, receiving a pen-
alty). In a related way, participants reported
lower perceived stress following the interven-
tion, which might point to an increased ability
to cope with negative events.
We found encouraging support for the impor-
tance of incorporating values work into inter-
ventions. Following the intervention, partici-
pants reported increased levels of importance of
valued life domains, which failed to reach sta-
tistical significance yet are suggestive in terms
of directing future research and program devel-
opment. Greater awareness and clarification of
values would be expected to increase salience of
their importance. Because individuals have a
finite amount of resources to devote to multiple
life domains, particularly time-burdened college
student athletes, it might be helpful to clarify
and identify which are most personally mean-
ingful. In terms of goals, participants reported
greater goal-directed energy following the in-
tervention and compared with the control group.
Research suggests that values exploration plays
a central role in goal attainment (Sheldon &
Elliot, 1999; Sheldon & Houser-Marko, 2001).
In fact, a recent study of an ACT-based inter-
vention revealed that values exploration com-
bined with goal setting resulted in improved
performance, yet goal setting alone did not pre-
dict performance (Chase et al., 2013). Accord-
ingly, clarifying values might motivate goal
pursuit.
Implications for Practitioners
We explored players’ written feedback from
their exit interviews to identify strengths and
areas to build on for future interventions. Sev-
eral players indicated that the intervention could
be improved by including more active, experi-
ential exercises. Long periods of lecturing
where participants remained inactive might
have resulted in boredom and inattention.
Because athletes are accustomed to intense,
frequent exercise, they may prefer to learn
through active and experiential methods, as in-
dicated by a recent study with student athletes
(Groves, Bowd, & Smith, 2010). Practitioners
that conduct interventions with athletes should
harness their propensity toward physical move-
ment. This might provide additional support for
the benefit a complementary mind–body exer-
cise component (e.g., yoga), although this re-
mains to be explicitly tested. Additionally, a
group format might be helpful to build team
morale and trust.
Two players wrote the words “team” or
“teammates” in their response to what they
found most helpful. Completing exercises that
encourage self-disclosure (e.g., see Method,
Session 3: Introducing values and values-driven
behavior section) may increase closeness
among participants in a group (see Collins &
Miller, 1994, for a meta-analytic review). Ac-
tive participation, especially when directed to-
ward a shared task, may facilitate teamwork and
improve group cohesiveness within teams.
Limitations and Future Directions
Our findings should be interpreted in light of
several limitations that preclude definitive con-
clusions, including a lack of randomization in
13MINDFULNESS INTERVENTION WITH COLLEGE ATHLETE TEAM
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treatment group assignment and differences in
recruitment of the two groups of student ath-
letes. Athletes in the control group represented
different teams across diverse sports, as op-
posed athletes in the experimental group who
were members of a single team. Researchers
have emphasized that individualizing athletic
intervention programs to each sport is important
to their effectiveness (e.g., Martin & Toogood,
1997). The advantages of interventions may dif-
fer across sports depending on the unique de-
mands of the sport. For example, one study
found differences in observed effects of a mind-
fulness program between elite golfers and
swimmers (Bernier et al., 2009). Another limi-
tation from the vantage point of implementation
of the program is that we did not measure ath-
letic performance. Indeed, it is likely that stu-
dent athletes and coaching personnel would be
more likely adopt an intervention that has been
shown to improve performance. Future research
is needed to determine whether improvements
in psychological well-being and mindfulness
translate into improvements in physical perfor-
mance (e.g., Iso-Ahola, 1995; Jowett & Cramer,
2009). We recommend that subsequent studies
are more adequately powered to document po-
tential differences across intervention and con-
trol groups. A number of potentially interesting
findings in the current research emerged at only
trending levels of statistical significance and
these findings should not be regarded as reliable
until confirmed in future investigations. Finally,
because we combined psychological training
(MAC program) with mind–body exercises
(yoga), we are unable to determine which com-
ponent of the intervention exerted a greater in-
fluence on the participants. Nevertheless, the
combination of these two approaches may yield
the greatest benefit, insofar as psychological
training and yoga training reinforce mindful-
ness in complementary yet distinct ways.
Our study provides insight into how to best
conduct mindfulness and acceptance-based in-
terventions with student athletes. We provide
preliminary support for the efficacy of a brief
psychological intervention that incorporates
mind–body exercises. We add to the growing
body of support for ACT-based approaches that
teach athletes how to be mindful and accepting
of negative states rather than trying to eliminate,
suppress, or control them. Our examination of
players’ written feedback highlights the need
for practitioners to administer experiential ex-
ercises that invite athletes to actively partici-
pate. To develop the most effective interven-
tions for student athletes, researchers are
encouraged to examine mindfulness and accep-
tance strategies and continue to explore the
mechanisms of psychological interventions that
may benefit not only athletes, but the general
population as well.
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Received February 21, 2014
Revision received June 2, 2014
Accepted June 4, 2014
18 GOODMAN, KASHDAN, MALLARD, AND SCHUMANN
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... Second, while the results of the MGCA results did not indicate any significant change in awareness over the course of the intervention, the social validation data revealed a more complex picture of the athletes' perceived changes in awareness skills. They showed that the athletes perceived an improvement in monitoring their attention to deal with present-moment experiences and focus on the contextual and performance-relevant cues rather than being overwhelmed or distracted by disruptive stimuli (Bernier, Thienot, Pelosse, & Fournier, 2014;Doron et al., 2020;Goodman, Kashdan, Mallard, & Schumann, 2014;Josefsson et al., 2019;Scott-Hamilton et al., 2016;Vidic, Martin, & Oxhandler, 2017). The gap between the quantitative and qualitative results echoes a question previously raised in the literature about the difficulty of measuring mindfulness skills accurately with the use of self-report questionnaires (Doron et al., 2020;Longshore & Sachs, 2015;Shankland, Kotsou, Cuny, Strub, & Brown, 2017). ...
... Further, the social validation data showed that the athletes perceived an improvement in their commitment to value-and goal-driven behaviors as a result of the MBBI program, while this skill was not quantitatively assessed. By clarifying specific goals and values, the program enabled the athletes to better evaluate and regulate their behavior when they were faced with interfering thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations either in training or competitive matches (Goodman et al., 2014;Henriksen, 2019). The mixed methods approach used in this study (Ryba et al., 2020) has proved useful in capturing the complexity of the players' experiences and providing a complete understanding of how the central constructs of MABIs evolved over the course of the intervention. ...
... Regarding performance-related outcomes, the results of the MGCA indicated a significant linear increase in facilitating perception of stress related to performance (i.e., stress direction) as a result of the MBBI program but no significant change in stress intensity (Birrer et al., 2012;Gardner & Moore, 2007Goodman et al., 2014). The change in acceptance skills may have led athletes to positively interpret their competitive match-related stress (Birrer et al., 2012;Gardner & Moore, 2007Goodman et al., 2014). ...
Article
In order to better understand how an integrated mindfulness and acceptance-based intervention works and for whom it works best, study objectives were to examine (i) the trajectories of mindfulness skills and performance-related outcomes during the intervention, and athletes’ perceptions of the impact of the intervention; and (ii) the potential moderating effects of personality characteristics on changes in targeted variables associated with the intervention. The sample consisted of 40 young elite female basketball players (M = 16.33, SD = 0.75 years) from three incoming groups at the French Federal Basketball Center over a 3-year period. All players participated in a 15-week Mindfulness BasketBall Integrated program. They completed online questionnaires measuring personality traits 10 months before the intervention, as well as pre-, mid- and post-intervention measurements of mindfulness skills, intensity and directional interpretation of stress, and performance satisfaction. They also participated in semi-structured social validation interviews conducted one month after the intervention. The results of the multilevel growth curve (MGCA) and thematic analyses revealed how the mindfulness skills and performance-related outcomes evolved over the course of the intervention and how these changes were perceived by the athletes. Specifically, the MGCA showed significant linear increases in acceptance, positive stress direction, and performance satisfaction. The complementary social validation data indicated perceived improvements in mindfulness skills and performance. The MGCA also showed that baseline personality traits moderated the effects of the program on acceptance and experience of stress. These findings may be used to inform the design of more effective integrated mindfulness and acceptance-based interventions.
... feelings of apprehension and tension), associated primarily and directly with performance (Martens, Vealey, & Burton, 1990;Fletcher & Hanton, 2003) [55,23] . The literature concerned with yoga highlights its benefit in lowering perceived stress, which might indicate an improved capability to manage negative events and explains its association with anxiety reduction (Goodman, Kashdan, Mallard, & Schumann, 2014) [32] . Increased quality of life is another reported benefit of yoga practice (Harner, Hanlon & Garfinkel, 2010;Büssing, Michalsen, Khalsa, Telles, & Sherman, 2012) [40,14] . ...
... For instance, Kusuma and Bin (2017) [51] found that yoga treatment reduces cognitive and somatic anxiety of badminton athletes. It has also been observed that yoga is just as effective or more effective than psychological exercises at enhancing distinctive facets of an athlete's mental health, especially with regard to perceived stress and anxiety reduction (Goodman et al., 2014) [32] . Because circus artists must deal with the added stress associated with live performance and continuous evaluation (Filho et al. 2016, Ménard et al., 2014 [22,57] , the results of the current investigation support the integration of yoga practice as a way to reduce cognitive and somatic anxiety related to performance. ...
... For instance, Kusuma and Bin (2017) [51] found that yoga treatment reduces cognitive and somatic anxiety of badminton athletes. It has also been observed that yoga is just as effective or more effective than psychological exercises at enhancing distinctive facets of an athlete's mental health, especially with regard to perceived stress and anxiety reduction (Goodman et al., 2014) [32] . Because circus artists must deal with the added stress associated with live performance and continuous evaluation (Filho et al. 2016, Ménard et al., 2014 [22,57] , the results of the current investigation support the integration of yoga practice as a way to reduce cognitive and somatic anxiety related to performance. ...
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Yoga and the practice of mindfulness have gained popularity as performance psychology interventions, by promoting a relaxed state of focus, increasing body flexibility, and improving awareness during performances. Like professional athletes, circus performers invest a great deal of time, resources, and mental and physical energy in their performances. The present pilot project focuses on the effect of the Bali Yoga Program, adapted for athletes (BYP-A), on the general psychological state, quality of life, performance anxiety, and perceived athletic performance of circus artists studying at the National Circus School in Montreal. Over 8 weeks, student circus artists (n= 18) attended 90-min yoga session. Results showed that following the intervention, participants reported decreased depressive and somatic symptoms, decreased cognitive and somatic performance anxiety and enhanced coping abilities (relaxation, mental distractions). BYP-A has initially shown to provide benefits for circus artists, such as factors related to improved psychological health and mental state related to performance. Future avenues for research should explore yoga intervention more thoroughly and pursue to investigate the differences existing between circus arts and other performance fields.
... Specifically, when comparing a resilience training program including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with mindfulness and positive psychology for college student athletes, the majority of participants indicated that the most important component from the program was mindfulness/meditation to develop grit [56]. In contrast, a brief mindful yoga intervention did not enhance grit among male athletes [57]. However, the limitations of the above mentioned studies were the lack of randomization and differences in the recruitment procedure, the lack of follow-up measures and the lack of control conditions. ...
... Regarding grit, another finding of the present study indicated that increasing mindfulness leads to improved grit of female athletes, which is in line with the previous results [55]. On the other hand, the results of a further study indicated that brief mindfulness training could not help improve male athletes' grit [57]. Two key limitations of this study design [57] were the lack of randomization and differences in recruitment. ...
... On the other hand, the results of a further study indicated that brief mindfulness training could not help improve male athletes' grit [57]. Two key limitations of this study design [57] were the lack of randomization and differences in recruitment. Further, it may be necessary to use a longer period of mindfulness training (e.g., MAC) to establish statistically significant changes in grit when assessed quantitatively. ...
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Background: Mindfulness-based interventions are well-established in the field of psychotherapy, and such interventions have also gained increased attention in the field of sport psychology, either to cope with psychological pressure or to improve an athlete's performance. The goal of the present study was to examine whether a Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment (MAC) program could increase self-compassion and grit among elite female athletes compared to an active control condition. To this end, we performed a randomized trial among female adult athletes. Methods: Forty female adult athletes (Mage = 22.22, SD = 2.40) were randomly assigned either to the Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment group (n = 20; 7 group sessions, 60 min each) or the active control group (n = 20; 7 group sessions, 60 min each). At baseline, seven weeks later at the end of the study and again four weeks later at follow-up, participants completed a series of self-rating questionnaires on mindfulness, self-compassion and grit. Results: Dimensions of mindfulness, self-compassion and grit improved over time, but more so in the Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment condition compared to the active control condition. Improvements remained stable from the study end to follow-up. Conclusions: While the active control condition improved dimensions of mindfulness, self-compassion and grit among female adult athletes, improvements were much stronger in the Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment condition. Importantly, improvements in the Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment condition remained stable over a time lapse of four weeks at follow-up after study completion, suggesting that the Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment intervention appeared to improve cognitive-emotional learning processes.
... Wigmore (2014) defines mindfulness training as the process of impacting knowledge or learning of practices designed to help an individual to increase their ability to live fully in the present moment. Mindfulness training mainly focuses on non-judgmental awareness and acceptance, which denotes that athlete do not view their internal conditions as good, bad, true or erroneous, right, or wrong, but rather accept these conditions as they are (Bernier et al., 2009;Gardner & Moore, 2012;Zack et al., 2014;Awamleh, 2014;Goodman et al., 2014;Röthlin et al., 2016). This method of mindfulness training is clearly different from the usual practice of traditional psychological skills dominated in the field of sport and exercise psychology. ...
... Openly attending to the moment can effectively counter stressors and trauma-related symptoms such that a focus on the intrinsic qualities of the present reduces excessive orientation toward the past or future, which in turn increases the likelihood of achieving goals, quality of life, and mental health (Kabat-Zinn, 2003;Westerman et al., 2020). Indeed, mindfulness is associated with not only more adaptive emotion regulation strategies (Hill & Updegraff, 2012;Westerman et al., 2020) and goal-directed energy (Goodman et al., 2014), but also reduced emotional responding in the presence of stress (Arch & Craske, 2010). Mindfulness is also linked to lower rates of depression and anxiety, in addition to greater well-being (Carmody & Baer, 2008;Hofmann et al., 2010). ...
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Objectives Childhood sexual abuse is linked to long-term consequences, including depression and anxiety in adulthood. Although considerable progress has been made to understand mechanisms that may account for this relation, such as emotion dysregulation, less attention has been given to protective factors that may mitigate it. One such protective factor might be mindful awareness. Those who act with awareness in daily living tend to engage in healthy emotion regulation skills when faced with stressors and experience less depression and anxiety. In the current study, we aimed to replicate the positive associations among childhood sexual abuse severity, emotion dysregulation, and psychopathology across time, and also identify a personal strength—in this case, mindful awareness—that might mitigate these effects. Methods Participants were 491 women recruited from the community who completed self-report assessments at three time points over a 32-month period. Results A series of moderated mediation models revealed childhood sexual abuse severity predicted later reports of depression and anxiety symptoms through greater emotion dysregulation in the form of difficulties engaging in goal-directed behaviors. As expected, mindful awareness weakened the relation between goal-directed emotion dysregulation and symptoms of depression and anxiety, such that greater levels of mindful awareness fully buffered these effects. Conclusions Through a better understanding of natural resiliency processes among survivors, we can ultimately encourage continued examination of what might be effective additions to existing treatments for the mental health consequences of trauma and adversity.
... Greater coher ence, meaning, and social connection from self-connection may also contribute to more positive affect in daily life (see Fredrickson, 2013). These relations could be examined using longitudinal and brief intervention studies (e.g., Goodman, Kashdan, Mallard, & Schumann, 2014). Although such positive functioning is the primary hypothesized outcome of self-connection, greater self-connection may also be associated with fewer depression symptoms (given the roles of anhedonia and hopelessness in depression). ...
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We provide a theoretical framework for what it means to be self-connected and propose that self-connection is an important potential contributor to a person’s well-being. We define self-connection as consisting of three components: 1) an awareness of oneself, 2) an acceptance of oneself based on this awareness, and 3) an alignment of one’s behavior with this awareness. First, we position the concept within the broader self literature and provide the empirical context for our proposed definition of self-connection. We next compare and contrast self-connection to related constructs, including mindfulness and authenticity. Following, we discuss some of the potential relationships between self-connection and various aspects of mental health and well-being. Finally, we provide initial recommendations for future research, including potential ways to promote self-connection. In all, we present this theory to provide researchers with a framework for understanding self-connection so that they can utilize this concept to better support the efforts of researchers and practitioners alike to increase individuals’ well-being in various contexts.
... Asana is a Sanskrit term used to describe the body position that involves physical positions engaging the joints and muscles and even the internal organs by stretching and pressure. 19 Asana consists of approximately 84 exercises, each with a specific name, form, and particular way of practice. From a physiological perspective, the nature of these methods and their deep and slow breathing pattern improve oxygenation and stabilize blood pressure and heart rate. ...
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Introduction The quality of life in menopausal women is considered to be an important health issue in different societies and one of the main objectives of health care in this period. This study aimed to investigate the effects of yoga on improving the quality of life in menopausal women. Method English databases of Google Scholar, Science Direct, PubMed, Scopus, and Cochrane Library were searched to access related articles using keywords of menopause, quality of life, and yoga. Furthermore, Persian equivalents of the same keywords were searched in databases of Google Scholar, SID, and Magiran, in addition to a combination of the keywords. The search interval was from the inspection to January 2020. The quality of the included studied was assessed based on CONSORT 2017 checklist. Results Out of 120 articles found in the databases, six articles entered the study based on the inclusion criteria and were investigated for intervention methods and consequences. The results indicated the positive impact of yoga on the quality of life in menopausal women. Conclusion Considering the effects of yoga on the symptoms and quality of life in menopausal women, it is suggested that this low-cost method be used to improve their quality of life and health.
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Present study aimed to investigate the effect of mindfulness protocol on anxiety, self-efficacy and performance of male shooters. The present study was a semi-experimental with design two groups of pretest-posttest with control group. Of all male shooters in Gorgan, in 2012, 30 shooters ranged in age from 19 to 30 years, randomly assigned to two groups of 15. The training program included six sessions of 75-90 minutes of Mindfulness / Control, and the state-competitive anxiety inventory, general self-efficacy and performance scale in shooting were used for evaluation, and data were analyzed using Analysis of Covariance and Multivariate Analysis of Covariance. The results showed that the intervention of mindfulness reduced anxiety and increased self-efficacy and its components (desire to initiate behavior, desire to expand the effort, encounter obstacles) and improve exercise performance. According to the findings of this study, mindfulness interventions are one of the effective methods for improving athletes' performance
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Chapter
Although one may disagree with Shapiro and Ravenette’s evaluation of the various tests cited, their quote does sensitize us to the need to develop more explicit ways of assessing our client’s affects, cognitions, and volitions. The present chapter conveys some preliminary attempts at developing this assessment armamentarium, which follow from a cognitive-behavioral treatment approach. Specifically, the present chapter has two purposes. The first is to examine various assessment strategies that have been employed to study psychological deficits. This analysis indicates some shortcomings and an alternative, namely a cognitive-functional analysis approach. The second purpose of the chapter is to describe specific techniques that can be employed to assess more directly the client’s cognitions. Let’s begin with an examination of the current assessment and research strategies.
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