Windsurfers are inclined to understand the “soul” component of their sport. It’s natural for them to enjoy it, feel connected to nature, and be lost in the incredible “flow feeling.” However, competitive windsurfers (and other athletes) sometimes think that, if they start to pursue “soul” feelings, they will lose the edge – literary, that they will have to abandon competition.
In this article, I would like to convince you that this is not true! You can be a soul windsurfer and, at the same time, a very successful athlete. Actually, there is a chance that the soul approach will help you improve your results on the sports battlefield!
I spend my youth in sports. For some time, I was a semi-professional basketball player. I also enjoyed playing baseball (one of the first teams in Croatia) and swimming. Due to extensive training, my knees suffered a lot. Once I had a terrible injury and was out for a year of rehabilitation. That, and innumerable minor injuries, did not stop me from regular training and competition. I was never a first-class athlete, but I had my share of success. I know what it means to bite hard if you want to achieve your goals. Even today (at the age of 60), I am not lazy and working hard, always trying to improve something and stay in shape and fit.
However, with time I also understood that all these efforts have a price not only in your time and energy but also in your health. Instead of improving it, you may finish damaging it.
During my twenties and thirties, I came in contact with another kind of knowledge: yoga and meditation. At first glance, these two activities are not very much connected with sport. However, yoga has the means to immensely improve your physical abilities (flexibility and static power). Meditation can improve your focus, reduce stress and help you to give your best when needed.
When I came across the book by John Douillard – Body, Mind and Sport, I knew I found the confirmation of my thinking. These seemingly different approaches may join together and create what I later called soul-windsurfing (can be “soul” with any other sport, of course).
Douillard worked with world-class athletes (for example, Martina Navratilova, a famous tennis player) proving that different approaches can give excellent results without causing so much stress on the mind and body while keeping the fun and enjoyment as part of any training, no matter how serious it is.
Some ten years ago, I participated in forming training for a group of young athletes. It was a very rewarding experience, but unfortunately, I did not pursue this line of work.
But, I am using some of the different training principles for myself. I firmly believe anyone can use it and improve their results, whether they are just amateurs like me, trying to see how much they can improve, or professionals and serious world-class competitors.
In the absence of my systematic materials for developing the soul component in sport, I have to recommend Douillard’s book again.
However, I can describe some principles I apply in the soul approach to the sport.