What does WNBA player, Monique Billings, do to mentally prepare and recover from a game? Find out by reading her Q&A. You can also listen to her episode on the Untangle podcast where she shares her personal story on and off the court below.
How does a professional basketball player mentally prepare & recover from a game?
Q: How do you get mentally prepared for a game?
Getting mentally prepared for a game feels like preparing for battle! My mentality is that I am going to war with my team. I’m so meticulous about what I put into my body, what I am feeding my mind, and what I am doing to uplift my spirit. The details matter so much! I am a creature of habit and I don’t change or alter my game day routine in the slightest bit!
Q: Have you ever been mentally unprepared for a game? What does that feel like?
Being unprepared mentally for a game feels like I’m treading water in a turbulent ocean. I am one who typically overthinks, so if I feel any way out of alignment and off balance on a game day, I’m overthinking how I will show up for my performance. If I don’t have my quiet time on a game day and zone into my sacred space, I feel out of whack. If I don’t eat the right foods at the right time, I am not in sync. If I spend too much time on my phone or social media, I feel overstimulated. My confidence on game days is fueled by knowing that I did everything in my power to put myself in the best position for success. I’m meticulous about everything when it comes to game day preparation!
Q: We all know the importance of mental & physical recovery when it comes to performing at our best. What does “recovery” look like to you and why is it important?
Recovery is putting my most prominent needs within the realm of my mind, body, and spirit at the front of my to-do list. When I’m focused on physical recovery, I’m taking ice baths, getting massages almost every other day, doing yoga and stretching, and getting lots of sleep! Recovery doesn’t have to be an overly complicated process, but instead, it’s just listening to your body and responding to what it needs. Recovery is pivotal for me to be an elite athlete because I’m loving and caring for my body so that it will respond by allowing me to perform at my absolute best.
Q: How do you think professional sports are handling the growing awareness of athletes who are struggling with mental health issues?
The American College of Sports Medicine recently found that 35% of elite athletes struggle with a mental illness.
I truly appreciate how professional sports leagues are growing in awareness of mental health and the mental strain that athletes deal with. Athletes have so much power through our voices on our platforms, but we often times do not realize it because things can get hazy while you are head down in the grind. As a professional athlete, it is empowering to know that athletes are being heard more, and people are taking the time to understand the mental toll along with the physical toll.
Q: How have you felt mental health for athletes is being addressed publicly?
I see mental health for athletes being addressed when athletes utilize their own power to address how they are feeling and what they might be struggling with. Athletes have begun to use the microphone in front of them, a.k.a. their individual platforms, to bring attention to various topics, issues, and concerns about mental health in the athlete space. I see mental health being addressed so much more in recent times.
Q: Who should be involved in improving the current status quo of mental health & recovery?
I feel that it will take a collective effort between team organizations, doctors, psychiatrists, therapists, and players to develop a common ground and understanding. This could help improve the current status quo. There is no solution that could be found overnight, and not one individual can fix what has already been established. But, by working together on the same team, A strong group of powerful individuals could surely enhance the current status quo.
Mindfulness & Performance
Q: You’re a passionate advocate for mindfulness (which is exactly why we love working with you!). Why is that advocacy important to you?
Mindfulness is so important to me because for such a long time I did not know who I was outside of what I do. I had to become mindful and aware of my gifts and treasures outside of my profession or my level of success and clout. Mindfulness is the simplicity of your essence. It’s being aware that who I am on the inside shines brighter than anything I could ever portray on the outside. My mindset of mindfulness grounds me daily. I’m passionate about this because I want everyone to be able to experience what it feels like to know your value and to have an elite sense of self-love.
Listen to Monique’s personal story of growth, self-care, and finding balance on the Untangle Podcast.
Monique shares her personal story about growing up with a strong family foundation, her meditation practice, her commitment to self-care, and her healthy routines. She has an amazing inner compass and an ability to follow her gut, her intuition, and her spirit.
Q: Do your teammates or close friends meditate? How do they respond to your meditation practice?
I don’t have many teammates or friends to meditate in a traditional sense, but I do feel like they find ways to get into their zone. Meditation is a way that I get into my zone, so this is why it is such a great asset for me in my mindfulness journey. My friends and teammates respect my meditation practice. I would even say they admire it. They know it takes a lot of discipline to constantly go within and take that time to hold space for yourself.
Q: From your perspective, are the benefits of meditation reaching athletes? Why or why not?
I believe that the benefits of meditation are potentially just beginning to reach athletes. As athletes, we are often taught how to train our bodies but never taught how to train our minds. This is something that is changing recently. Athletes are learning how nourishing it can be to sit still and not be stimulated for a while. I feel as though a great want for athletes nowadays is peace, and with the perception that meditation adds to one’s peace, athletes are more inclined to give it a try.
Q: How do you incorporate meditation into your training?
I incorporate meditation into my training by visualizing. I close my eyes and I see myself on the court and in various scenarios before they even transpire. I want to feel, see, and Live in the big moments that might come before they even happen. When I meditate, I am envisioning good things happening while I am training or in a game.
Listen to the Performance Collection of Guided Meditations on Muse!
Whether in work, school, sports or daily life, the guided meditations in this Performance collection are designed to provide you with a number of tools for improving performance. This collection is unique because there’s no need to sit quietly in your home or office. These can be listened to just before a particular event or situation.
Q: Most people aren’t elite athletes but struggle with similar issues such as getting motivated or staying motivated to accomplish their goals-how can meditation help with that? Can you give an example from your life?
Meditation is the perfect way to practice staying motivated to accomplish your goals because it takes so much discipline. Dedicating time to meditate and getting yourself in a zone to be in the meditation are not easy tasks, And they take a lot of obedience and determination to see it through. Consistency is the key to accomplishing goals and this is also a key and having a solid meditation practice.
Q: How do you motivate yourself to stick to and develop good habits like meditation?
My motivation comes from wanting to be the best version of myself every single day. I realize and feel that there’s so much potential within me that is untapped, and I want to reach it! When I think about who I want to become and who I am becoming, this is my motivation to stay consistent with my habits of meditation and mindfulness. I’m also motivated through introspection and reflection, thinking about how far I have come and what a great space I have gotten myself to. I have had to fight to get here, and I am motivated to sustain where I am at because none of it has been easy!
Q: Now that you’ve been meditating for the past 3 years, what is the biggest thing that you’ve learned about yourself as an athlete?
The biggest thing I have learned in my meditation journey is that there is not only one way to meditate. Meditation in itself is a practice, just like how I practice for basketball, this is how I have begun to view meditation. Not every day is going to feel or be the same as the one before. Not every meditation practice will be this grand experience that catapults me into a fantastic day. Some days I do not feel like meditating at all, and rather than going through the motions, I will find a different way to meditate in that day or simply give myself a break if that is what I am requiring. I’ve found many different ways to meditate such as when I am washing my hair, cooking food, going for walks without my phone, and so many other things! These are non-traditional ways to meditate, but they all allow me to reach a level of mindfulness that I am seeking through my meditation practices.