Instantaneous effects of mindfulness meditation on tennis return performance in elite junior athletes completing an implicitly sequenced serve return task

Edward J. O'Connor*, Alistair Murphy, Mark J. Kohler, Russell W. Chan, Maarten A. Immink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Single-session meditation augmentation of sport-specific skill performance was tested with elite junior tennis athletes. Athletes completed one of two styles of mindfulness meditation (focused-attention or open-monitoring) or a control listening condition prior to performing an implicitly sequenced tennis serve return task involving the goal of hitting a target area placed on the service court. Unbeknownst to athletes, six distinct serves followed a repeating second-order conditional sequence for two task blocks before the sequence was altered in a third transfer block. Task performance was operationalized as serve return outcome and analyzed using beta regression modeling. Models analyzed group by block differences in the proportion of returned serves (i.e., non-aces), returns placed in the service court, and target hits. Contrary to previous laboratory findings, results did not support meditation-related augmentation of performance and/or sequence learning. In fact, compared to control, meditation may have impaired performance improvements and acquisition of serve sequence information. It is possible that the effects of single-session meditation seen in laboratory research may not extend to more complex motor tasks, at least in highly-trained adolescents completing a well-learned skill. Further research is required to elucidate the participant, task, and meditation-related characteristics that might promote single-session meditation performance enhancement.

Original languageEnglish
Article number907654
JournalFrontiers in Sports and Active Living
Publication statusPublished - 23 Aug 2022


  • athlete
  • cognitive control
  • meditation
  • mindfulness
  • performance
  • sequence learning
  • sport
  • tennis

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