Is training a specific skill a form of mindfulness? ABSOLUTELY.
So what? It's a fair question to ask. So what if skill development is a form of mindfulness, how does that help?
I had never really thought about this until a session I did yesterday got me thinking about the benefits of being mindful whilst working on a specific skill. I was coaching some players and as part of the warm up I had them doing their ground skills work and they mentioned how they were really feeling how hard they were hitting the ground. They made the comment they never feel this during games. I asked them why? And with a little bit of coaxing and guiding I made them realise that by isolating the skill they were able to be more mindful of what they were doing and this refers back to purposeful practice. In a game there are a lot of outside variables that have a distracting effect on what you are actually doing. Our brain is overwhelmed at times during games with all that is going on, player movement, ball movements, looking for space or opportunities, being aware of threats, decision making on a lot fo activity happening around us. Not necessarily realising how hard they are hitting the ground.
It is certainly understandable that being fully aware and mindful of specific skills within games is unrealistic and unnecessary. For many core skills we want to have developed them to a stage where under pressure in a match environment we want to be able to execute them well mindlessly or autonomously.
In the training environment however, we have the opportunity to fully immerse ourselves in what we are doing without outside interference sometimes. It is these times where we can really feel the ground as we hit it, what parts of our body hit first, where our arms go, do we have control of the ball. The best example would be of a goal kicker diligently working on their craft in isolation from the rest of the world.
I believe it is essential to provide time in each session to allow for mindful practice of core skill, and it may simply be five minutes during a warm up where players can work on a technique in a mindful and deliberate way.
Is this a part of your training sessions and how do you go about getting the most value out of it?