How To Use ACT and Mindfulness When You’ve Got Lots Of Time To Think #BITESIZE

ACT in Sport, Improving Performance through Mindfulness

Dr James Hegarty

Dr James Hegarty has a wide range of experiences as a Clinical Psychologist and a long standing interest in Sports Psychology.  Throughout his career he has worked with sports people, from passionate amateurs through to professional athletes.  He was an early adopter of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy/Training, and as a speaker and presenter was pivotal in its widespread adoption among New Zealand Psychologists.  

Since 2005, he has trained Psychologists and others in the implementation of ACT, 
and written ACT-based protocols. These have been used with high performing sports teams, in business settings, and with criminal offenders. 

James and his friend and colleague, Dr Christoph,Huelsmann have co-authored a book ACT in Sport, improve performance through Mindfulness which is a manual for Athletes, Coaches and Sport Psychologists.  Currently he works in private practice in Dunedin, New Zealand.

In different sports such as golf and cricket, athletes can be placed in situations where they have a lot of thinking time.  Too much thinking time for some!  Due to their high level of motivation, focus of attention, fatigue, emotions and many other factors this thinking time can create havoc in their minds.  As a result, indecision, fear and self-doubt can take over. 

In today’s episode, Dr James Hegarty, co-author of the book ACT in Sport: Mindfulness, Acceptance and Commitment shares some ideas on how athletes can help themselves so that they don’t view this thinking time as a negative and are effective in how they get mentally ready.   Psychological flexibility is at the heart of our discussion.   

Key Learning Points:

  • All athletes can get caught out thinking ahead predicting future events.
  • As humans, athletes also can easily dwell on past mistakes.
  • Developing psychological flexibility is a hugely beneficial skill to have in your armoury as an athlete.
  • Athletes should practice basic mindfulness of the breath to build a foundation.
  • Cricketers can focus on sensations of the sun or cold wind on their face after dropping a catch to refocus.
  • Mindfulness allows athletes to step away from over-analysing mistakes and get their head back in the game.
  • My challenge for May 2024 is to see if I can dial in and be mindful at least 100 times per golf round of golf I play! I’ll report on how I get on.

Connect with Dr James Hegarty


Email: [email protected]

Book – ACT in Sport: Mindfulness, Acceptance and Commitment

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Podcasts Episodes Connect to ACT and Mindfulness

Ep092: Dr James Hegarty – ACT in Sport, Improving Performance through Mindfulness

Ep099: Trevor Jones – How to Deal with Overthinking on the Golf Course

Ep124: Dr Keagan Hadley – Long Term Injuries: How to Confront Difficult Thoughts and Emotions

Ep205: Dr Carl Bescoby – Rehabilitation And Returning To Sport: How To Support Injured Athletes

Ep235: Trevor Jones – How To Use ACT To Improve Your Coaching In Sport #BITESIZE

Click the button below to join The Sports Psychology Hub a Facebook group that David hosts to help ambitious athletes, serious sport coaches, sporting parents, sports psychologists and mental game coaches to support each other.



Also, kindly consider taking the 60-seconds it takes to leave an honest review and rating for the podcast on iTunes, they’re extremely helpful when it comes to the ranking of the show and we read every single one of them!

David Charlton

Best Wishes 

David Charlton

Global Sports Psychologist who is located near Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK and willing to travel Internationally.  David also uses online video conferencing software (Zoom, Facetime, WhatsApp) on a regular basis and has clients who he has supported in USA, Canada, South America, UAE, Australian and New Zealand.  

Managing Director – Inspiring Sporting Excellence and Founder of The Sports Psychology Hub.  With over 10 years experience supporting athletes, coaches, parents and teams to achieve their goals, quickly.   

T: +44 7734 697769

E: [email protected]

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