The world of athletics has become more in tune with the importance of mental fitness, mindfulness and the impact both have on athletic performance, said Ryan Stock.
“With the pandemic, obviously that shut down athletics across the board. It added a ton of stress, anxiety [and] frustration for athletes of all levels. Athletics serves as a stress reliever for many athletes, as well as being a time where they can be with their friends. All of that was suddenly stripped away,” said the founder of MindSport — a mindfulness and meditation application focused on improving the lives and performance of athletes.
Click here to read more about the origins of MindSport.
Quick to understand the pandemic would take a toll on athletes’ well-being, Stock and his team reached out to various coaches and sports administrators to educate them on the resources they could access and provide through MindSport, he recalled.
“We figured out things like — financially, what did they need us to do to make our app accessible to their athletes,” Stock noted. “I even did a bunch of Zoom calls and Zoom yoga sessions to help them find peace and calm in a stressful time.”
But as pandemic restrictions are being lifted, MindSport is now packaging subscriptions to the app with in-person mindfulness, meditation and yoga classes, Stock said.
“I go on-site and work with athletes and coaches, so that I can get a pulse for how they’re really feeling based on their body language,” he continued, noting body language and energy reveals a lot about how one feels both physically and mentally. “… I think the app and in-person sessions combined make what we’re doing at MindSport not only unique, but super impactful.”
The pandemic shined a light on the potential for MindSport’s impact on athletes and coaches across the world, Stock noted. The app boasts users who are Olympic-level beach volleyball competitors, National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball players, and even Blake Bolden — the first African-American athlete to compete in the National Women’s Hockey League.
“The future is extremely bright for MindSport as our athlete and influencer roster continues to grow,” he shared.
One Last Drop
With the pandemic giving Stock more time to reflect, he realized his own well-being had become unbalanced — specifically related to alcohol, he shared.
“I was drinking less, but I was drinking to not feel things and to not have to deal with things,” Stock said. “I started to realize that and got clarity that I needed to stop drinking.”
Stock spent the next 90 days writing letters to his 4-year-old son. In the letters, he looked back on the imbalances he encountered during his athletic career as a collegiate coach, his relationships and his life overall.
“That first 30 days was a struggle of coming to grips with all these different pieces of my life, from alcohol to athletics to love,” he noted. “I was feeling all these raw and exposed emotions that I had been numbing out with alcohol.”
His intense journaling led to Stock’s first book, “One Last Drop,” which is a collection of the letters Stock wrote for his son.
“The feedback has been incredible,” he shared. “I’m so glad that it happened because I feel more healthy and clear headed — both in my mind and body — than I’ve ever been in my life.”
As a man who has been surrounded by athletics nearly all his life, Stock encouraged others to be vulnerable with their emotions, even if it is not the societal norm.
“We’re taught as athletes to be robotic; to not feel; to not discuss our emotions; to not talk about love, negativity [and] failure,” Stock explained. “So it was really important for me to expose my raw thoughts and emotions. I hope it is powerful and impactful for other athletes to see those thoughts, feelings and emotions and understand that they’re not alone.
“… The book ends with Day 90,” he continued. “By then, readers can see how I got to a really positive space by the end of my journey. So there is light — no matter how dark or heavy it may feel for them at that moment.”
“One Last Drop” hit Amazon’s No. 1 in New Releases in Sports Psychology for more than a week when it debuted in April.
Click here to check out One Last Drop on Amazon.
Book to documentary
One specific piece of feedback that stuck with Stock came from Betty Chung, who works as a video editor in Kansas City.
“She said, ‘You need to make this a documentary; you need to do more with it,’” he recalled.
Chung, alongside documentary filmmaker Sam Jones, agreed to independently produce a film based on Stock’s writings from “One Last Drop.” The documentary is set to follow the 90-day format of the book, and has already begun shooting, Stock said.
“I think the story is relatable for any reader or viewer in that we all go through struggles and imbalances in different areas of our lives,” Stock noted. “Sometimes we just need to take a step back.”
Check out some behind-the-scenes shots from the documentary by Betty Chung, then scroll down to keep reading.
Between juggling the documentary, MindSport and personal life, Stock is also working on his second book, he teased. The content centers around athletes’ well-being, and it is anticipated to be released in the fall.
“I’m excited for the future of not only the app,” he said, “but the books, the documentary and overall helping athletes, coaches, parents all across the country and world.”