Thursday, October 16, 2014

MINDFULNESS AND BASKETBALL

There’s a joke---there are many of them, in fact---about the basketball team, the New York Knicks. The one I’m thinking of goes like this. ‘What do you call a New York Knicks player with a championship ring?’ 

The answer? A thief. 


Well, the fortunes of the team may just be about to change---for the better, that is. You see, the New York Knicks are learning all about mindfulness.

Knicks president Phil Jackson (pictured above)---whose moniker is 'Zen master'---revealed on Sunday that he has hired someone to put the team through ‘mindfulness training’ this season.

Jackson has previously instilled the practice of mindfulness and other psychological and philosophical tools (including Zen and Lakota Sioux philosophy) in his teams in Chicago and Los Angeles, guiding those teams in to peak performance.  

‘There's a mindfulness training program that's very logical and very calm, quiet, and we've started the process with this team, and [first-year head coach] Derek [Fisher is] all for it. He's a proponent of it,’ Jackson said Sunday. ‘And yet I think that it's kind of what I am inserting in here as part of what I think has to happen because I know what effect it [has]. I think it's very difficult sometimes for a coach to do this because it's so anti what we are as athletes.’

Head coach Derek Fisher (pictured left) underwent mindfulness training while playing under Jackson with the Lakers.

Jackson also said, ‘We're about action; we're about this intense activity that we've got to get after. And this mindfulness is about sitting still and being quiet and controlling your breath and allowing you to be in the moment, and yet it's so vital for a team to have this skill or players to have this skill. To be able to divorce themselves from what just happened that's inherent to them -- a referee's bad call, or an issue that goes on individually or against your opponent. You've got to be able to come back to your center and center yourself again.’

Fisher has his own views about mindfulness. ‘I think it falls into the category of mental performance. We've seen that evolve in professional sports in recent years where instead of always focusing on improving your performance in just the muscles and the bodies and the shooting, there is a very big muscle up here that also needs training sometimes,’ Fisher said. ‘And so mindful training, mental performance, we take it seriously.’



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