Being a successful athlete not only involves maintaining high levels of physical fitness, but also attending to the inner mental games as well. According to research, sports performance has more to do with mental abilities than physical abilities. To many people this may sound like a strange concept, but thousands of sports people have recognized the power of their mental state having a positive effect on their sports performance. Hypnosis has been used for many years to help professional athletes enhance their natural ability. (See Famous Athletes and Teams Who Have Used Hypnosis)
Mind Control in Sports
Successful athletes are often able to control their state of mind so they have a psychological advantage which prevents them from underperforming or giving into their nerves. Hypnotherapy seeks to engage an athlete’s mind in a positive way to help him focus on his goals and achieve them. Being able to control negative thoughts and emotions is the basis of sports psychology and can often be achieved through hypnosis. Sports people often refer to being in the ‘zone’. This means that they get totally absorbed in what they are doing and barely notice outside distractions when performing at their best. Hypnosis can often help an athlete access the ‘zone’ so that he can use this state to enhance performance.
Hypnosis and Visualization
The brain can’t distinguish between actually doing something or imagining doing something so visualizing the desired end result can help tune the mind for success. If the human mind is capable of imagining something, it’s capable of making it happen. Visualizing the desired end result can help tune the mind for success. Adding in all sensory modalities- see it, hear it, feel it- adds even more opportunities for improvement and success.
Most coaches at some time or other will introduce visualization to their athletes. Visualization involves the athlete seeing and experiencing success in their mind. The results from this can vary depending on whether the person doing the visualization is a visual person or not. A visual person will be able to close his eyes and actually see himself performing the task correctly. Others find it difficult to see the image in the minds eye. This inability to ‘see’ themself makes it more difficult for the person to achieve the desired result. It may prove more beneficial for these people to rather imagine another person doing the tasks – this sometimes helps as it dissociates the individual yet allows the mind to observe correct performance, skill, style, etc. However, this is still not the ideal, as it requires, at times, tremendous effort to maintain concentration during visualization.
Introducing a hypnotherapist specializing in sport hypnosis provides enhanced results, as the hypnotist can help the athlete achieve a state of hypnosis and thus a state of higher awareness, thereby enabling far greater concentration and also improving the ability to visualize. Under hypnosis a person would be able to better ‘see’ them self performing the desired skills and successes. Adding the other sensory modalities is also enhanced. In addition, the use of hypnosis places the correct expected result into the subconscious where it can form part of the individual’s ‘programming’ and therefore more consistent results.
Sports Hypnotherapy Creates Automatic Performance
Through the use of hypnosis an athlete can create an environment in the subconscious mind where stress and relaxation cannot coexist concurrently. For an athlete it is the key to realizing automatic reactions and achieving a hyper focused state during performance. When an athlete is focused and unaware of distracting thoughts his performance is automatic. Being in a relaxed state during play can mean the difference between success and failure. Achieving this paradox is the ultimate goal for facilitating peak sports performance at any level, no matter the age or experience of the player.
Some Ways Hypnotherapy Can Improve Sports Performance:
• Increase focus and concentration
• Reduce performance anxiety
• Remove self-made limitations or blockages
• Facilitate improved consistency and “automatic” performance
• Increase self-belief and confidence
• Learn anger control
• Facilitate better visualization and mental rehearsal
• Easier access to “the zone”
• Positively reframe and release past negative experiences
• Reduce or eliminate emotional charge from past negative experiences
• Increase motivation
• Remove any negative thoughts before, during and after competition, replace with positive thoughts
• Improve specific skills by practicing mental rehearsal techniques
• Improve healthy habits including nutrition, weight control, sleep, substance abuse, self-care/balance, etc.
• Enhance healing from injury and promote return with intact confidence
• Enhance team dynamics, intra-team communications, mutual goal setting and intra-team cohesion.