This study aimed at exploring the possible impact that habits, values and mindfulness can
have on an athlete's achievement of success. It provided a thorough understanding of these
three concepts and analysed the interrelationship they might have. By examining their
interconnectedness, the study found that a triadic relationship exists among habits, values
and mindfulness in the sport context.
The fieldwork was conducted with athletes from various performance levels. Elite athletes
were represented by athletes who have continuously performed exceptionally (having won
medals at Olympics, Commonwealth Championships, World Cups or Continental
Championships) on the international stage. These athletes formed part of the first phase of
this study. Athletes performing on club-, provincial- and national level were the participants in
the second phase of the study. The study found that athletes from the four performance
levels experienced habits, values and mindfulness differently. Certain core habits and values
were present among the different athlete populations. Elite athletes identified visualisation,
simplicity, simulation training and pre-performance routines as crucial habits in their
respective sports. The elite athletes indicated the importance of behavioural consistency and
that they tend to behave in a manner that is consistent with their values and to hold
themselves accountable to those values. Although there were similarities, the strength of
similar habits differed among the athletes from the different levels of performance. In
general, the three strongest habits among the four different performance levels, were the
habits of responsiveness, discipline and resilience.
The club-, provincial- and national athletes valued interpersonal relationships such as
loyalty, commitment and respect for others, higher than values that are more inclined to
assist in individual satisfaction and needs. Though the differences were not statistical
significant, it might be interesting to note that the national athletes scored higher on values such as self-direction, universalism and benevolence. Club athletes scored higher on values
such as hedonism and tradition.
The role of mindfulness in the attainment of success received varied emphasis from the
club-, provincial-, national- and elite athletes. The elite athletes identified mindfulness as a
key element in the maintenance of a successful long-term sport career. The elite athletes
linked mindfulness and visualisation with the understanding that the two concepts are
interconnected and that mindfulness might be aided by the practice of visualisation. The
club-, provincial- and national athletes identified a link between the habit of focusing and
mindfulness, indicating that focusing assists them in heightening their awareness levels in
situations. Athletes from the varying performance levels referred to mental skills concepts as
habits. They distinguished between behavioural habits as well as mental skills habits.
Correlation assessments were conducted to assess for links between habits, values and
mindfulness. Twenty eight correlations were found between the assessed habits and values.
Five correlations were found between values and mindfulness variables. Forty two
correlations were found between habits and mindfulness variables.
Qualitative and quantitative research methods were used to gather the data. The results
indicated that the development of athletes on all levels of performance can be enhanced by
being attentive to the habits, values and mindfulness levels of athletes. The
recommendations provided by this study will provide options to enhance performance levels
and possibly contribute to the holistic development of athletes in South Africa, Africa and the
broader sport fraternity.