Boot Camp for the Brain

September 12, 2012 | Featured in the Back to School 2012 Issue

Today’s soldiers undergo mental training, which is just as important as their physical training. Both soldiers and athletes need clear minds to make sure they perform well under pressure. Here are three mental exercises used by members of the U.S. military that can help you improve your on-field performance.

Mindfulness Meditation

How They Use It: To stop the mind from wandering and stressing about the future.
How You Use It: To calm the nerves before a game.

The Exercise

  • Sit or lie down and close your eyes
  • Push everything out of your mind except the present. Focus on your breathing, thoughts and surroundings
  • If your mind starts to wander, relax and refocus
  • As you get better at mindfulness meditation, you’ll be able to use it during games when you need to sharpen your focus

Circle Breathing

How They Use It: To hit the “reset button” after an adrenaline-pumping combat situation.
How You Use It: To keep yourself from overthinking a big moment or key play.

The Exercise

  • Inhale through your nose for three seconds
  • Hold your breath for two seconds and exhale fully through your mouth for four seconds
  • Repeat five to 10 times


How They Use It: To prepare for the emotions of intense combat.
How You Use It: To improve confidence in your training.

The Exercise

  • Close your eyes and imagine the competitive environment in as much detail as you can. Picture the stadium, fans and opponents
  • Put yourself in the game by using a first-person perspective
  • Allow yourself to feel the emotions of competition
  • Mentally play the best game of your life. Visualize a win in which you are the MVP
Dustin Brady
- Dustin Brady is the Web Manager at STACK Media and an avid runner. He received his bachelor's degree in communications from Pensacola Christian College in...
Dustin Brady
- Dustin Brady is the Web Manager at STACK Media and an avid runner. He received his bachelor's degree in communications from Pensacola Christian College in...
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