Mental clarity and focus are as vital as physical strength and skill in professional football. Many top footballers meditate to enhance their game, employing this ancient practice to achieve a mental edge. Let's explore some top footballers who meditate, including the latest goal-scoring sensation, Erling Haaland.
23-year-old Norwegian sharp shooter Erling Haaland is no stranger to the benefits of meditation. The forward even celebrates goals in the “Lotus” position, a cross-legged sitting posture commonly used in meditation, yoga, and various spiritual practices.
“You know, as a striker, I think it's really important in the game not to think too much. Meditation helps outside the pitch to let go of negative thoughts,” said the City striker in a BBC Sport interview with Alan Shearer.
“I like to meditate,” Haaland said back in March 2020 while playing with Dortmund.
“It's been helping me a lot to meditate and find an inner peace, so it's been good for me. It makes me feel calm and gives me tranquility. This is why I sometimes celebrate like that when I score.”
Known for his relentless dedication, Cristiano Ronaldo incorporates meditation into his daily routine. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has publicly credited meditation for enhancing his mental strength and focus.
Like Haaland, Ronaldo quiets the mind off the pitch to reenergize his intensity on it.
In 2017, the striker shared an Instagram post of him meditating on his potential exit from Real Madrid. After winning his fifth Ballon d'Or and Champions League the following summer, he left for Juventus.
The legendary Lionel Messi also embraces relaxation techniques. His off-the-field still practices include a dose of meditation, preferably before and after matches. The seven-time Ballon D'or winner also wraps up big workout days with a strict yoga routine.
“Some say this mental strength is 40, 50, or even 60% of our sport. I suppose it also depends on each specific player. But I do think it's very important, and I see a growing focus on this sort of preparation in the world of professional sports,” he told his sponsor, Adidas, during the height of the Covid pandemic.
Remember, this is the same Copa America and World Cup winner nearly retiring from international football after Argentina's Copa American loss in 2016 before positive psychology and perseverance brought him back.
Is relaxation why Messi's magic on the field looks so effortless?
“Meditation started for me during the Euros. Having meditated before that Croatia game, I had never felt more at peace with myself, and I haven't looked back since. Meditation allows me to connect my mind and body in a way I haven't experienced before, and helps me to appreciate life and the blessings around me,” wrote Chelsea winger Raheem Sterling.
The positive self-talk compelled him to collaborate with meditation teacher Dora Kamau for a seven-episode Headspace series called “Power of Mind.”
“I wish I could tell my younger self that all it takes is your breath, a little focus, and an appreciation of being in the present. Your mental health is your most important asset,” Sterling adds.
Meditation is making waves in the world of football. These top footballers break barriers and unlock zen on the pitch by embracing mindfulness and deep breathing. Whether it's Cristiano Ronaldo's laser focus or Lionel Messi's mesmerizing footwork and radar vision, meditation plays a vital role in their success.
How to Meditate as a Footballer
1. Find a Quiet Space:
- Choose a calm and peaceful location where you won't be disturbed.
- Sit on a cushion or chair, keeping your back straight and hands resting on your lap.
2. Focus on Your Breath:
- Close your eyes or keep them half-open, focusing on a spot on the floor.
- Pay attention to your breath as it enters and leaves your nostrils or the rise and fall of your chest.
3. Let Go of Distractions:
- Acknowledge any thoughts, feelings, or sensations without judgment.
- Gently bring your focus back to your breath each time your mind wanders.
4. Set a Timer:
- Start with 5-10 minutes and gradually increase the duration as you become more comfortable.
5. Practice Regularly:
- Try to meditate daily, even if it's just for a few minutes.
- Consistency is key to reaping the benefits of meditation.
6. Explore Different Techniques:
- Experiment with guided meditations, visualization, or mantra meditation to find what works best for you.
7. Be Patient and Compassionate:
- Meditation is a skill that takes time to develop.
- Treat yourself with kindness and patience, recognizing that it's a journey rather than a destination.