Athletes and teams looking for an extra edge are turning to mindfulness and mental-skills training to improve performance and well-being.By Alex Tzelnic
Excerpt: “Russ Rausch was once a successful businessman in Chicago. A small town kid from Kansas and the first in his family to go to college, he’d risen to a place of material comfort. He’d traveled the world, he owned a home, he even owned a vacation home. And yet Rausch found himself unfulfilled.“I’ve done all this stuff that really is beyond my dreams,” said Rausch, reflecting on that period. “And I’m having this feeling of, ‘Is this all there is?’ It felt like no matter what I did externally I ended up in the same place. I’d made friends with a couple of pro baseball players at that point and they felt the same way and that was shocking to me. I couldn’t see how that could even be possible.”
If professional athletes, making exorbitant sums of money and living out their childhood dreams, could also feel unfulfilled, something seemed amiss. Rausch spent years researching and soul-searching—studying neuroscience, psychology, and meditation. He said these disciplines changed his life, which led him to found Vision Pursue, a company that helps people develop a performance mindset that also enhances their personal well-being. Vision Pursue’s clients include the Atlanta Falcons, Miami Heat, and Seattle Mariners, as well as with a number of individual athletes. Rausch believes that if athletes learn to enjoy the process, the results will come.
“I think what we’re good at is taking some of these concepts and explaining them in ways that performers can understand,” explained Rausch. “We’re trying to let them keep their goals, keep the things that they want, but change the way they’re looking at them. When you start to realize that fulfillment is an internal thing you shift from [a] wanting-and-getting [mindset] to connecting, contributing, and creating. Not because someone told you to or it sounds good but because that’s what’s coming out of you.”
Rausch and his team have developed an app for Vision Pursue clients that features a daily mindfulness based activity. Through the app clients also report on their progress, and the results have been dramatic. After 60 days of using Vision Pursue clients show a 23 percent decrease in the amount of time during the day in which they feel stressed, bored, or a desire to escape their circumstances, and a corresponding 23 percent increase in the amount of time in which they feel good. But does this improvement in well-being translate into increased performance?” […]