Feasibility of a mobile meditation application to improve psychological factors affecting performance in baseball players
Pitchers are a vital part of the game of baseball and may account for up to two-thirds of the variance in win percentage. As they rise through the ranks of competition, physical skill set becomes less of a factor when compared to mentality. Pitchers are the “first line of defense” for keeping opponents from having an opportunity to score, as well as for holding onto their own team’s lead. Baseball pitchers not only face pressure to perform, but also experience stress from factors such as low pay, adjusting to higher levels of competition, and internal team competition for a limited number of spots. Athletes are often resistant to seeking aid from sport psychologists and often turn to unfavorable means to cope (i.e. drugs/alcohol, excessive exercise) with stress instead. Meditation has been shown to have beneficial effects on psychological factors associated with performance including emotional regulation, anxiety, confidence, focus, and mindfulness. Mobile applications have become a popular means of delivering mindfulness. The purpose of this study was to determine the feasibility and preliminary effectiveness of delivering a mindful meditation intervention using a mobile meditation application to improve psychological factors associated with performance (i.e. emotional regulation, anxiety (somatic and cognitive), confidence, focus, mindfulness) to minor league baseball pitchers. Pitchers in instructional league (Phase one) and off season (Phase two) were asked to meditate daily for 10-minutes each day for three weeks (Phase one) and eight weeks (Phase two). Pitchers were asked to complete self-report questionnaires and satisfaction surveys at pre- and post-intervention. Pitchers in phase one reported enjoying meditation, had improvements in self-confidence and sport confidence, and reported moderate decreases in cognitive anxiety and concentration disruption. Pitchers in phase two also enjoyed meditating (94.7%) and had improvements in self-confidence and moderate decreases in somatic anxiety. Low adherence due to timing (off-season) of intervention may have been a contributing factor to fewer outcomes. Future research should explore the feasibility and effectiveness of implementing meditation during the baseball season.