All athletes and coaches know that peak performance requires more than just physical exertion. There is a psychological component as well, which can be expressed in attributes such as awareness, focus, emotion regulation, and motivation.

For many years, systematic mental training was ignored in athletics. Thankfully, today this is starting to change.

This comprehensive resource on the history, theory, and practice of mindfulness in sport offers a fresh, exciting approach to performance enhancement for athletes and coaches at all levels, from amateur to professional.

Rooted in the traditions of mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, Kaufman, Glass, and Pineau present "mindful sport performance enhancement" (MSPE), an empirically supported, six-session program that can be adapted for athletes or even performers in other high-pressure domains.

Each MSPE session includes educational, experiential, and discussion components, as well as recommendations for home practice. There is special emphasis on incorporating mindfulness into workouts, practices, and competitions, as well as everyday life.

The book includes handy scripts for mindfulness teachers, sport and performance psychologists, athletes, and coaches, and handouts summarizing each session are also available for download.

Table of Contents

Jon Kabat-Zinn



I. Being a Mindful Performer

  1. Overcoming the Mental Training Paradox
  2. The Long Past but Short History of Mindfulness in Sport
  3. Going With the Flow: Mindfulness and Peak Performance

II. Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement

  1. MSPE Session 1: Building Mindfulness Fundamentals
  2. MSPE Session 2: Strengthening the Muscle of Attention
  3. MSPE Session 3: Stretching the Body's Limits Mindfully
  4. MSPE Session 4: Embracing "What Is" in Stride
  5. MSPE Session 5: Embodying the Mindful Performer
  6. MSPE Session 6: Ending the Beginning

III. Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement: Theory, Research, Practice, and Beyond

  1. Pathways From MSPE to Peak Performance
  2. Empirical Support for MSPE
  3. Tips for Participants: Getting the Most Out of MSPE
  4. Tips for Leaders: Enhancing the Effectiveness of MSPE
  5. Performance Applications Beyond Sport

IV. Case Studies

  1. Case Study 1: John the Outfielder
  2. Case Study 2: Angie the Basketball Coach



About the Authors

Author Bios

Keith A. Kaufman, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in the mental training of athletes and others who wish to improve their health and performance. He has operated his own private practice since 2008, and currently has office locations in Washington, DC and Fairfax, Virginia.

He is also a research associate at The Catholic University of America (CUA), Washington, DC, where he codirects the Sport Psychology Lab and teaches undergraduate sport psychology.

He codeveloped mindful sport performance enhancement (MSPE) and has coauthored two chapters on mindfulness and sport, along with writing or contributing to numerous articles on fitness, sport psychology, mindful sport performance, and dealing with athletic burnout and injury.

Dr. Kaufman obtained his bachelor of arts in both psychology and exercise and sport science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he received the Patrick F. Earey Award for the outstanding senior exercise and sport science major. He earned his doctorate from CUA and completed his predoctoral internship at Virginia Tech, training under the athletic department's in-house sport psychologist and receiving an American College Counseling Association special commendation for meritorious service following the 2007 shootings.

He is a member of APA and the Association for Applied Sport Psychology, and can be contacted through his websites: Keith A. Kaufman, PhD, PLLC and Mindful Competitor.

Carol R. Glass, PhD, is a professor of psychology at CUA in Washington, DC, where she is a faculty member in the PhD program in clinical psychology and received the James Dornan Memorial Undergraduate Educator of the Year Award in 2010.

Her research interests include the role of cognition in anxiety, psychotherapy integration, and mindfulness and acceptance-based approaches to alleviate anxiety and stress and to promote peak performance. She codirects the Sport Psychology Lab at CUA, and is one of the developers of MSPE.

She is the author of more than 100 articles and chapters, as well as a coeditor of the book Cognitive Assessment. Additionally, she served on the editorial board of Cognitive Therapy and Research for more than 20 years as well as on the editorial board of the Journal of Psychotherapy Integration. She is currently a member of the CUA Athletic Advisory Board.

Dr. Glass is a member of the Advisory Board (and former Steering Committee member) of the Society for the Exploration of Psychotherapy Integration and a Founding Fellow of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy. She is also a fellow of APA (Society of Clinical Psychology) and member of the Society for Sport, Exercise, & Performance Psychology and the Association for Applied Sport Psychology.

She has more than 30 years of experience as a practicing clinical psychologist in Washington, DC and Bethesda, Maryland.

Timothy R. Pineau, PhD, is currently the outreach coordinator at the Marymount University Counseling Center in Arlington, Virginia, and he has a private practice in Washington, DC.

Mindfulness is a cornerstone of his personal life and clinical work. As part of his work at Marymount, Dr. Pineau offers individual and group therapy, as well as drop-in sessions and workshops that emphasize mindfulness principles.

He has coauthored two book chapters and a journal article on the topic of mindfulness and sports, and has spearheaded a research initiative at Marymount to examine the use of MSPE with college sports teams. He also has taught courses in mindfulness and meditation and the history of psychology at CUA, Washington, DC, and contributes to research in the CUA Sport Psychology Lab.

Dr. Pineau received his bachelor of science in clinical psychology, with a double major in philosophy, from Tufts University. He completed his doctoral training at CUA, which is where he joined his current coauthors in the Sport Psychology Lab and took the lead on expanding and enhancing MSPE into its present 6-week version.

His more than a decade of experience in rowing (as a competitor and a coach) has been a significant influence on his work. Finally, he is a member of APA, American Group Psychotherapy Association, and Association for Applied Sport Psychology, and is a licensed clinical psychologist in both Virginia and Washington, DC.

Reviews & Awards

Mindfulness exploration has recently grown quite popular, and the authors of this work masterfully integrate mindfulness with the realm of sports and exercise...Engaging in mindfulness allows athletes to attend to the present and remain in tune with their mind and body — essential techniques for anyone who wishes to strengthen their mental fortitude. The practical applications provided in this book would be of value to anyone involved in performance enhancement.

This is a must-read for any coach who has talked to athletes about the importance of mental preparation and wants to learn how to systematically teach the skills required. Coaches and athletes will benefit from the research and the practical exercises in this book.
—Bruce Beall
Director of Rowing and Varsity Boys Coach, Bainbridge Island Rowing, Bainbridge Island, WA

Attention, focus, and choice are foundational to the practice of mindfulness meditation and, as the authors of this unique book reveal, to the wider domain of sport. Drawing on top-notch research and compelling personal accounts, their writing succeeds not only in making the case for mindfulness in sport, but also in elegantly conveying how it can contribute to optimal performance.
—Zindel V. Segal, PhD
coauthor of The Mindful Way Workbook

Companion Products
  • Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement in Practice

    This DVD demonstrates mindful sport performance enhancement, a mental training program designed to help athletes, coaches, and other performers develop a set of core skills that can facilitate peak performance and optimal experience.