Sports give women the opportunity to cultivate essential life skills such as teamwork, goal-setting, and the pursuit of excellence—skills that are transferable to and highly valued inside and outside athletics.
According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, female athletes not only exhibit higher levels of confidence, self-esteem, and psychological well-being, but they also develop a more positive body image compared to non-athletes.
Women in athletic and non-athletic roles still account for a fraction of industry revenue, facing disparities in TV rights and sponsorship deals. Women have long fought for equality in the world of sports, and their perseverance is finally starting to pay off.
In recent years, women's sports have seen remarkable growth. Deloitte Insights predicts that in 2024, the industry will surpass $1 billion for the first time ever. A prime example is the National Women's Soccer League, which saw a 300% viewership increase in 2020, with 653,000 people tuning in to watch the NWSL Challenge Cup, rivaling MLB games in the same time slot.
In 2021, Deloitte also predicted that women will continue to earn more as interest grows, with 66% of the general population being interested in at least one women’s sport and 84% among sports fans.
As women's sports continue to grow worldwide, the pursuit of excellence takes center stage. Achieving peak performance in sports requires more than physical training and good nutrition; it involves cultivating mental strength and psychological resilience. As women continue to break barriers and set new records, incorporating neurofeedback into training can change the game in female sports.
Neurofeedback and mindfulness: More than relaxation for female athletes
Recent studies specifically focusing on women in sports have underscored the importance of mental training.
A study by the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that mental skills training, including goal setting and imagery, significantly improved the performance of female athletes. This highlights the need for a new approach to mental training for women, one that addresses their unique psychological and emotional needs.
Neurofeedback, a form of brain training, positively affects different aspects of sports performance, like reducing stress levels, enhancing self-control, and improving reaction speed.
This neurotechnology, including wearable devices like the Muse 2 Headband and Muse S Headband, provides real-time insights into brain activity, helping athletes understand and optimize their mental states for improved performance.
By analyzing brainwaves, neurofeedback helps female athletes recognize and control states of stress, focus, and relaxation, important aspects of excelling in competitive environments.
Studies indicate neurofeedback leads to enhanced mental resilience, concentration, and even physical performance. Because athletes can “see” their brain’s responses to stress, focus, and relaxation, they can begin to control these states more effectively.
This means athletes can use EEG devices to track when their mind is in an optimal state for performance and learn how to enter that state whenever they need to.
The benefits of neurotechnology also extend to sleep, a factor professional athletes tout as crucial to their physical recovery, mental sharpness, and cognitive function.
Neurotechnology devices like the Muse S Headband monitor brainwave activity during sleep and provide real-time biofeedback that improves sleep quality. By integrating Muse neurotechnology into sleep routines, users have experienced a 20% improvement in sleep quality, which can potentially enhance female athletic performance.
Mental training like mindfulness meditation and focused-attention meditation, is integral to the neurofeedback training of female athletes. Time-honored techniques such as mindfulness, deep breathing, and visualization help reach this mental balance. These practices can help athletes develop a flow state, where they have a heightened awareness of their thoughts and feelings and can remain present and composed under pressure.
For female athletes, mindfulness practice can be more than just a tool for relaxation after a tough training session or competition; it’s the key to mastering the mental game that ultimately shapes peak physical performance.
The pressures and expectations, from performance anxiety to balancing a professional career with personal life, are intense in female sports. Mindfulness offers a way to face these challenges head-on, with greater resilience and focus.
Mental training in action
Competitive athletes recognize the important role of mental training and neurofeedback in achieving peak performance.
The practices of top athletes like WNBA player Monique Billings highlight this shift in focus. Her meticulous approach to mental preparation and recovery shows how vital mental discipline is for athletic performance. Her strategies parallel those used in other sports, where athletes leverage mindfulness to enhance focus and resilience.
For example, elite female swimmers have successfully used neurofeedback training to reduce anxiety and boost performance. This technique is proving to be a game-changer, moving beyond physical training to address the psychological aspects of competitive sports.
Similarly, a study on highly skilled female gymnasts emphasizes neurofeedback’s role in optimizing mental and physical readiness, which is especially important for excelling in these high-stakes sports competitions.
Studies also show that athletes who engage in regular mindfulness practice are better equipped to handle the psychological demands of their sport, leading to improved performance, decision-making, and endurance. But the benefits don’t end there.
Engaging in mindfulness regularly leads to enhancements in an athlete’s personal life, increasing mental focus, reducing anxiety, and enhancing stress management.
Other benefits of mindfulness for athletes include:
- Enhanced brain function capacity
- Increased neural activity
- Improved circulatory blood flow
- Learning to manage distractions
- Improved self-confidence and self-belief
- Training mind-body cohesion and synergy
- More restful sleep cycles
With benefits like these, it’s no wonder that top female athletes, like the US Women’s National Soccer team, have incorporated mindfulness and meditation into their training programs. Players have credited these practices with helping them stay focused and composed, both on and off the field.
Using mindfulness and neurotechnology in female sports training
Mindfulness nurtures the mind’s ability for focus and resilience, while neurotechnology provides data-driven insights into the brain’s functions. Together, they offer a dynamic approach to mental training to help female athletes reach peak physical performance.
A study from the University of Toronto and Aix-Marseille University found that combining just seven minutes of focused attention meditation with neurofeedback positively impacts sports performance.
Engaging in this combination over time teaches athletes the essential triggers needed to achieve and maintain calm and focused states. In the high-stakes environment of female sports, remaining calm and collected is key.
Female athletes can integrate this combination into their training routine by:
Starting with a baseline assessment. Using neurotechnology tools like the Muse 2 Headband, athletes can establish a baseline of brain activity and physiological responses.
Training with feedback-driven meditation. Incorporating regular mindfulness or focused-attention meditation sessions, like the over 500 guided sessions found in our premium subscription, supported by real-time neurofeedback helps athletes to achieve and sustain desired mental states.
Integrating with physical training. Athletes can blend these techniques into their training routines, using breathing techniques or calming meditation during warm-up and cool-down periods.
- Making regular adjustments. By using the biofeedback data from neurotechnology devices, athletes can adjust their techniques and training for optimal performance.
By embracing these neurotechnology and mindfulness, female athletes can improve their sports performance and contribute to changing the narrative and experience for girls in sports, inspiring the next generation of female athletes to persist and excel in their athletics.