Pressure doesn’t equal present, said Ryan Stock. Modern lifestyles that emphasize always being on-the-go only contribute to stress and anxiety, the MindSport founder added.
“No matter what industry you’re in … it’s just part of Western culture,” he said. “I think it’s magnified in athletics because there’s so much pressure, because there’s so much money.”
Catering to athletes, Overland Park-based MindSport was founded in late 2017 as a mindfulness and meditation app featuring a five-series video component, with individual sessions lasting five to 10 minutes. Subjects range from visualization meditations to stress and anxiety.
The sessions primarily use basketball terminology, said Stock, who played and coached the sport for 12 years, helping him to understand the mental exhaustion that comes from pressuring one’s self to perform well game after game, he said.
“I was like, there’s gotta be a better way to do this,” he said. “I did some leadership training, some executive coaching, and also started to dive into mindfulness meditation. And as soon as I did it, I said, ‘Man, I got to find a way to scale this so that I can help athletes, coaches from the highest levels, NBA, and down to college and high school.’”
MindSport sessions are applicable to other sports, as well as non-athletes, Stock said. Ultimately, the app can benefit most anyone feeling burdened or overwhelmed by the pressures of life, he said.
“I think for some people, it helps even give them a little bit of that shift into a competitive or even athletic mindset,” Stock said. “I think it’d be beneficial for anybody that wanted to use it, but it just depends on what you’re looking for in the app, and what you want to do with your mindfulness and meditation practice.”
The concept that resulted in MindSport originated with Stock selling recordings and speaking to organizations and individual athletes. He quickly realized he was being stretched too thin, he said, and began looking for ways to scale and make it more affordable.
“I was having these meetings with USA Basketball and the National High School Coaches Association and they were like, ‘We love what you’re doing. We know we need it. We know our coaches need it, but there’s only one of you,” said Stock.
MindSport joined the Kansas City-based BetaBlox accelerator in 2017, which Stock credits — along with the direct influence of BetaBlox founder Weston Bergmann — for much of the app’s traction in the athletic community, he said.
“[Signing up for BetaBlox was] easily the best decision I’ve made as an entrepreneur,” Stock said from MindSport’s headquarters at the GRID Collaborative Workspace in Overland Park. “Wes has been amazing and a big reason we’re starting to see the attraction and growth that we’re seeing within the app.”
Along with expanding more intentionally into other sports, MindSport could soon add a yoga and an active mindfulness series, as well as building on one of its most surprisingly popular sessions so far: the sleep series, he said.
Stock actively uses lessons from his meditative training in daily life, he said, rising early in the morning for at least 30 minutes where he simply listens and tries to be present, setting the tone for the hours that follow.
“That was a big adjustment for me honestly, because I’m not a morning person,” Stock said. “Well, I’m getting that way now, but I had to figure out a way to get my mindset in the right manner to start my day.”