Written by Villanova Freshman Ava Ruggieri
Athletes and sports fanatics all over the world have heard the phenomenon of being in “the zone”. Being in “the zone”, when it comes to sports, is being able to block out all distractions and become fully focused on performing and executing the skills of the game being played. The greatest athletes strive to reach this “zone” mentally because that is when they are at peak performance.
My name is Ava Ruggieri and I play for the Villanova Women’s Lacrosse team. Over the summer, my coach had our team read The Mindful Athlete: Secrets to Pure Performance written by George Mumford, who has taught mindfulness to notable athletes such as Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant- two of the greatest basketball players to ever play the game. I have already experienced the benefits that meditating has on everyday life, but as I read this book, I was amazed at the connection made between meditating and sports.
After reading the book, I reached out to my coach and told her that my high school physics teacher teaches mindfulness. Then, after practice one day, everyone on my team ended up hopping on Zoom and Mr. Shelton led us through a guided meditation. This was the first time that many of my teammates meditated, and I was so excited that they had the opportunity to experience this.
Ever since we had that Zoom meditation with Mr. Shelton, my coach has really encouraged us to use this practice more often. For example, at the end of each lacrosse practice, my coach has all of us find a comfortable position, close our eyes, and practice our breathing for a few minutes. If we ever feel “off” during a drill in practice, she encourages us to just take a moment, step to the side, and breathe to regain focus. It’s these small breathing techniques and longer meditations that we do at the end of practice that I believe will benefit our team in the long run. Many times, athletes get frustrated at some point in their game and it is hard for them to pull themselves together, regain focus, and perform at their best. Now that my team and I have practiced our meditation and have these small breathing techniques in our back pockets, we are going to know how to focus our inner selves during games, remain calm, and stay in “the zone” so we may perform to our best abilities.