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Hypnosis for Sports Performance

Hypnotherapy can be defined as a form of therapy that is used to create subconscious changes in patients in the form of new thoughts, responses, feelings, behaviors and/or attitudes through the use of hypnosis. Scientific studies have shown people who have been hypnotized display certain unusual propensities and characteristics in comparison with non-hypnotized subjects, most notably heightened responsiveness and suggestibility to external stimuli.

In a nutshell, we utilize the altered state of consciousness obtained through hypnosis with our clients to help replace negative, limiting behavior patterns with new positive behavior patterns and increase motivation. In addition, through comprehensive consultation with our clients we are able to determine the nature of the problem they desire to have rectified; prepare them to enter hypnotic state by explaining what they will experience and how the process works; and proceed to induce a hypnotic state in them using individualized techniques and methods of hypnosis based on the individual needs, strengths and specific challenges of our clients.

Pro Athletes Who Have Used Hypnosis

Many professional athletes have been using hypnosis to excel and gain an advantage over their competition for as long as sports have existed, though it wasn’t always recognized as such. Only recently have many of these practices been recognized and categorized as ‘hypnosis’. Many common sports practices, however, such as being “in the zone,” and mental imagery rehearsed plays and prior to executing them, are closely related to hypnotic and /or NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) techniques.

In recent times, many of the star athletes you may already be familiar with have undergone hypnosis and other mental techniques in order to get the edge in their respective field. Tiger Woods saw a hypnotist in order to help him block out any distractions and focus solely upon the golf course. Jimmy Connors, a top tennis player, has used hypnosis to help him develop and refine his stroke. Kevin McBride, a heavyweight boxer who once defeated Mike Tyson, is said to use hypnosis before every fight to help him reach his full potential.

Hypnosis for athletic performance (Sports hypnosis)

As the name suggest, sports hypnosis is simply hypnotherapy that is geared towards improving athletic performance. It is used by all levels of male and female athletes, from amateurs to the elite professionals and has successfully been used to improve results in just about every type of sport.

The idea of physical factors being just as important as mental factors is nothing new and probably goes as far back as the advent of sport. However, this idea was developed in the early part of the twentieth century by the new science of psychology with the term ‘sports psychology’ coming into use in the 1920s and the Soviet Union’s Olympic teams of the 1950s famously employing psychological coaches. Sports psychology thus began to be taught at universities, and it gradually spawned into big business with major league players and teams consulting with and adding hypnotherapists to their staff.

Sports hypnosis is today a part of this movement and is often regarded as a practical sports psychological tool. In fact, certain hypnotic principles make hypnosis ideally suited to sports enhancement and improvement. Below, we take a look at 3 such principles that are incorporated into hypnosis for enhanced athletic performance:

1. Visualization or Mental Rehearsal

To begin with, any type of mental visualization is essentially hypnotic as it entails using one’s imagination to rehearse the future. It is something we all do quite naturally, ranging from planning what we are going to say for a forthcoming job interview to imagining what we will have for lunch. And while hypnosis provides a structure for this natural capacity, our sports hypnosis directs it towards improving a player’s performance.

For instance, a soccer player may use sports hypnosis to mentally rehearse taking penalties or saving them in case of a goalkeeper whilst a tennis player may use this psychotherapy to vividly imagine returning their opponent’s serve. In all scenarios, mental rehearsal works in the same way since the mind cannot tell the difference between imagined and real events. This is because the same body chemistry, muscle reactions, and neural pathways are activated whether you are actually returning an opponent’s serve on a tennis court or are imagining yourself doing so. This is akin to getting in extra practice, with the added advantage of being able to consistently rehearse success in your mind which may not necessarily be the case in real life.

2. Conjuring positive expectation

Expectation is a tremendous force in human behavior and motivation as we all seek to fulfill our expectations, bad or good, all the time. For example, if you attend a conference expecting it to be boring, then it is highly likely to be tedious. Conversely, if you go expecting to hear information that will be of benefit to you, you will probably find the experience interesting. Here, expectation is similar to an empty picture frame that we are constantly trying to fill with the best picture.

This has a profound physical effect too. If you have ever been preparing yourself for dinner with someone special and then the dinner invite gets cancelled at the last minute, it can get pretty irritating and uncomfortable. Heightened expectation releases dopamine (motivating hormone) while fulfilling an expectation releases serotonin. In sports terms, the former is responsible for you running from midfield towards goal whilst the latter is the feeling you get upon scoring a goal.

Hypnosis for sports performance is all about having the right expectation and consequently channeling all that dopamine in the right manner. For instance, a football player might use hypnosis to build expectation of performing well at an upcoming tournament. Dopamine release, therefore, creates a physical and mental urge to seek completion and satisfaction, making him/her more likely to do well in the tournament by living up to their expectation. As an athlete, you can definitely expect to gain your edge back with the help of our hypnosis experts who will guide you on the process of conjuring up positive expectations.

3. Mind-body connection

Although Western science has long treated the body and mind as two separate entities, advances in neuropsychology and neuroscience have increasingly shown that the two are inextricably linked. Body and mind are in constant communication aided by a flow of neurotransmitters from the brain to the body’s cells. The mind tells the body how to act, but the body can also tell the mind how to feel and think too.

This has a profound impact on sports performance which is why we use it to encourage the ideal sort of messages to be transmitted from the mind to the athlete’s body e.g. an extra degree of determination in endurance events to help you overcome physical resistance, or a more relaxed pose when taking a golf swing etc.

It is often said that sports are 90%, 98% or even 99.8% mental. But if this is so, why do most athletes spend 99% of their time working on the physical aspect of their sport? We can all agree that at the very top level in sport, all athletes have a desire to excel, are physically fit, and are very skilled. It can also be stated that those who have a mental edge are likely to win every time when tenths of a point or fractions of a second count. Hypnotherapy can be used to help maximize one’s potential, because when your body and mind are both trained and working in harmony the results will reflect more than the sum of their parts. To enhance your sports performance and increase your overall confidence, call today. I can help 704.336.9356