Coach teaches meditation

Chris Roberts, Sports Editor

Varsity baseball coach Darrion Siler and 30 players sit together. They close their eyes and inhale a breath of fresh air and hold it. Their mind focuses on the air flowing into their lungs, and their muscles relax as stress leaves their body. Eight seconds pass, and they exhale.

Siler introduced techniques that are often used in meditation to the baseball team this fall. “One of the things we talk about is mindfulness. Being present in the moment is an important part of sports performance,” Siler said.

According to Siler, being “present in the moment” means to focus on the task at hand and forget about what has happened in the past. Siler preaches the importance of letting things go and moving on to the present moment to his players.

Siler believes athletes should concentrate on the sport they’re playing, instead of worrying about the past, “Meditation practices can help you stay focused on what [the task] is and what you are truly trying to do, as opposed to worrying about external forces and letting things you can’t control [bother] you,” Siler said.

Siler teaches the baseball team some of the same techniques that sports psychologist Dr. Ken Ravizza uses with his athletes. Ravizza works with several professional sports teams, including the 2016 World Series champions, the Chicago Cubs.

According to the Chicago Tribune, before every practice or workout, Ravizza’s athletes partake in a five-minute meditation exercise. They focus on their breathing and move their attention to different parts of the body.

Similarly, the baseball team begins fall practice by gathering in a tight circle and taking five minutes to do breathing exercises. They begin by feeling their feet in their cleats, recognizing they’re in the present moment.

Siler began teaching junior pitcher and outfielder Ryan Ishak meditation techniques this fall. Ishak has already begun to see results, “It has helped me stay focused on the tasks that I am doing,” he said.

While Siler is teaching meditation practices for baseball, they’ll also reap the rewards off the field. “Meditation can help you with tests, relationships, and life in general,” Siler said. He believes meditation helps people become more self-aware.

While Siler knows the benefits from the breathing exercises he’s teaching his players, he understands that meditation does not dispel all nerves. “[The breathing exercises] are not a magic pill. It’s not all of a sudden now that you have a mental practice that you’re always in a mellow, relaxed state,” he said.

Yogi Berra, an 18-time MLB All-star, understood the importance of the psychological aspect of the game.“Baseball is ninety percent mental. The other half is physical,” he said. Siler wants his players to practice the mental game just like they practice the physical part of the game.

Chris Roberts is a Sports Editor of The Patriot and