“The Mindful Athlete: Secrets to Pure Performance” by George Mumford
George Mumford had a rough upbringing. As an African American kid living in the inner city, he got caught up in violence, drug abuse, and frequent encounters with the police. And like many before him he saw basketball as a way out of the slump, only for his dream to be cut short by a massive injury that derailed him and sent him to downward spiral.
Today he’s a top mindfulness and performance coach with more than 3 decades of experience, famous for coaching the Chicago Bulls and the LA Lakers, among many others from Olympic athletes to corporate executives, from Yale to jail, and most famously coaching Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, and countless other NBA stars. So what happened with him that made him successful at turning his life around? Mindfulness meditation.
Just as it says in the title, this book is not about meditation per se. But this is a book about goals, determination and dedication to achieve high performance level, which uses mindfulness as the number one weapon. While every now and then it refers to the teachings of the Buddha – such as the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path – the book have more of an athlete development kind of feel, due to Mumford’s line of work especially in the NBA.
Hence, in a way this is like practical meditation lessons directly applied in the real world, rather than meditation taught in a zen place with cushion. It deals more with flows or “the zone” rather than chants, more focusing amidst the crowd noises rather than in a silent retreat. It is direct to the point, with clear scientific cause and effects, and written in a step by step manner with formulas that makes it easy to implement in training.
Moreover, as it is in a sport development plan, the book also filled with many tools, quotes, and sports science hacks, that eventually circle back to mindfulness. Which serve to demonstrate that if we implement it right, meditation could become the center of our wellbeing and progress. Highly practical book, so very recommended.