CHICAGO (April 18, 2019) –U.S. Soccer and Major League Soccer today announced a three-year partnership with Headspace, one of the world’s leading meditation and mindfulness apps.
Headspace will annually provide thousands of app subscriptions to ensure all U.S. Soccer and MLS athletes, coaches, and league and club staff have access to strengthen their mindfulness and meditation skills. This partnership illustrates U.S. Soccer and MLS’ commitment to being at the forefront of total wellness by providing athletes with the best mental skills training resources. The partnership also includes the National Women's Soccer League. Details of the partnership will be announced at a later date.
As part of the deal, Headspace will conduct in-person introductory training sessions with U.S. Soccer and MLS athletes and coaches, led by Headspace co-founder Andy Puddicombe, and the company’s Head of Sports and Fitness, Lindsay Shaffer. Training sessions will take place during U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Team training camps and at various MLS events.
“MLS is committed to leveraging cutting-edge technology to enhance the overall total wellness of our athletes, coaches and staff members,” said Dr. Margot Putukian, MLS Chief Medical Officer. “The Headspace app provides top-line meditation training and is a wonderful supplement to the preexisting health and wellness resources the league and our clubs already provide. We look forward to members of the soccer community utilizing the Headspace app to advance their mindfulness skills to help them achieve their goals both on and off the field.”
Headspace is also creating a personalized training program for each individual athlete on the U.S. Women’s National Team to support their preparation on the journey to this summer’s tournament in France. The U.S. Women’s National Team is the defending World Champion and is currently ranked No. 1 in the world.
“We are extremely excited to partner with Headspace, the world leader in mindfulness and meditation,” said James Bunce, U.S. Soccer Director of High Performance. “Not only will this partnership help all of our players’ performance on-the-field, but it will also have significant impact on their wellness off-the-field. While the importance of soccer’s physical components are well-known and well-trained, the power of mental conditioning in soccer has often been underutilized. Through this partnership with Headspace, we now have the expertise and technology to ensure that all of our players’ needs are being supported as they work towards their goals.
“We are also extremely excited to work closely with the Headspace development team and the U.S. Women’s National Team to individually support every player on the road to France. With this project, each player will be provided an individually-tailored mindfulness and meditation program to help make sure that no stone is left unturned in these players’ preparation for this summer’s tournament.”
U.S. Soccer’s partnership with Headspace further demonstrates the Federation’s commitment to making soccer the preeminent sport in the United States, using innovation, science and technology to provide the best possible training environment for its athletes. In addition to partnering with Headspace, U.S. Soccer created the High Performance Department and hired full-time staff dedicated to the Men’s and Women’s National Teams. The organization also partnered with StatSports for comprehensive physical data collection, and has implemented initiatives such as bio-banding to support long term player development.
“We know that mental preparation is as important as physical preparation for elite athletes,” said U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Jill Ellis, “We are excited that Headspace has partnered with U.S. Soccer to provide the players another tool to help them perform at their highest levels heading into, and through the tournament this summer.”
MLS, U.S. Soccer and Headspace will also explore scientific research
opportunities around the benefits of meditation and mindfulness related to
key aspects of performance. Additionally, they will have the opportunity to
co-create mental training content specific to soccer with leading physical
and mental performance experts.
“While athletes go to great lengths to physically train their bodies, the mind is often neglected. Mental training is the future of sport, and meditation and mindfulness are proven techniques to improve mental fitness. We are thrilled to provide Headspace as the mental training tool to some of the world’s greatest athletes, helping them to achieve their performance goals, support their overall health and happiness, and work with U.S. Soccer and the MLS to create a future of sport in which athletes focus as much on training their minds as they do their bodies,” said Lindsay Shaffer, Head of Sports and Fitness at Headspace.
MLS and U.S. Soccer athletes and coaching staff will have access to Headspace’s comprehensive library of meditation content, including “Headspace for Sport,” which is designed to strengthen their mindfulness and meditation skills through a variety of 10-session “packs,” including Motivation, Concentration, Training, Competition, Communication, Analysis and Recovery.
Meditation and mindfulness are scientifically proven to support key aspects of preparation, performance, and recovery. When it comes to performance, mindfulness helps athletes stay focused, free from distraction, and ensure they are in the optimal flow state. In recovery, mindfulness can be used to induce the relaxation response, lowering the heart rate, relaxing the muscles, and counteracting the harmful effects of stress on the body. This ensures athletes have the ability to recover that much quicker, and often has the added benefit of improving sleep quality. Meditation also increases the grey matter in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is responsible for focus, and decreases grey matter in the amygdala, the area of the brain responsible for stress and fear.
Mindfulness training is an additional resource to a person’s overall total wellness regimen. For assessment and management of psychological issues, treatment from a licensed healthcare professional is advised. For more information on the Headspace app, visit www.headspace.com.