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Why Mindfulness Matters with Leo Messi

The G.O.A.T. explains the importance of mental strength and why it's better to look to the future when the going gets tough.

Lionel Messi, considered one of the greatest soccer players of all time, needs no introduction. But the soccer star's experience of these troubling days has been no different from that of millions of athletes around the world.

With the Spanish League on hold and the Copa América pushed back a year, he recognizes that keeping your mind strong is more important now than ever.

You have to have your head in the right place...

I don't think anyone could have seen something like this coming. Some people warned that worldwide pandemics could happen from time to time. But I really never could have imagined it would unfold like it did, or the enormous impact it's having on virtually the entire world.

Living or working with so much uncertainty is never easy, especially when faced with a situation as unheard-of as this one. We all wonder when we'll get back to work, when we'll start training and competing again. For any soccer player, it's crucial to stay focused when you hit the field.

Some say this mental strength is 40, 50, or even 60% of our sport. I suppose it also depends on each specific player. But I do think it's very important, and I see a growing focus on this sort of preparation in the world of professional sports.

Individual training keeps you in shape...

There is talk of finishing out the Spanish league's season without spectators, which brings a whole set of challenges. The group preparation is the same as for any other game. But individually each person needs to prepare and visualize playing without fans, because it's very strange. I had to do it for a home game, and it was downright spooky. But it's normal that the league would resume this way after everything we've been going through. With all that's happening in the world, it's perfectly understandable.

When we start playing again, it will be like starting from scratch. We'll have some time to get ready before the league starts up, and we'll also get back key players on our team who were injured. Technically it will still be the same season, but I think every team and player will feel it's different.

Even though I don't play two games per week anymore, I try to train every day, and I do the drills they send us. It's obviously a far cry from training with the team, and the worst part is not having the constant games, but it's the new normal we have to live with. That's why we'll need some time to prepare before competing again.

Staying in contact with the team to keep their spirits up…

Now more than ever, it's important to stay in touch with the team. Every now and then we all get together to talk and see each other. And I talk every day with many others.

Pushing back the Copa América was a huge disappointment, but of course it was to be expected and was the reasonable thing to do. The Copa was going to be a big occasion for me this year, and I was extremely excited to compete in it again. It hit me hard when I learned it would be postponed, but I completely understood.

We can't dwell on what we're leaving behind this year. It's better to look to the future. To getting back to the daily training routine, to seeing teammates, to playing the first games. I'm sure it will be strange at first, but I'm very eager to start competing again!