HYPNOSIS FOR SPORTS PERFORMANCE
Incorporating Hypnosis into Athletic Training
“Dream and act HUGE my friends; for to do less is to deny who you are. And live with BOLD conviction – as you move forcefully into the certainty of your great success!”
The U.S. Olympic team sports psychologist reports that 80% of any sport is mental. If you want to improve your confidence, focus and performance, then using your subconscious mind is the natural option.
Harness the power of your mind! Hypnosis is now mainstream and a modern training technique used by top professionals. It's not the submissive state that has been portrayed in movies and misunderstood by the public. It can help you sharpen your mental focus, relax your body, visualize success, stimulate healing, and control emotions during training and competition.
The positive effects allow you to approach what sport psychologists, coaches, and athletes refer to as "the zone." This state of mental function allows you to channel your attention and energy toward a single focus while blocking external and internal distractors.
What is the "zone"
What we refer to as the "zone" is a physical and mental state where all of our energies are focused upon a single outcome. More precisely, it is a state where our unconscious mind, subconscious mind, and conscious mind are working in perfect harmony. Our unconscious mind is regulating our physical systems (heart rate, blood pressure, proprioception, etc.). Our subconscious mind is regulating task specific motor skills and emotions. And our conscious mind is alert to situational forces (time on the clock, runners in scoring position, heat priority, etc.).
Developing mental skills is a vital part of an athlete's training. Getting into the "zone" can be brought under the athlete's control. Hypnosis will assist in developing these mental skills that empower an athlete's peak performance.
Each individual is unique and our approach to achieving peak performance is tailored to each athlete's needs. The process of mental training utilizing hypnosis and self-hypnosis techniques involves:
- Easing Tension
- Imaging Perfect Performance
- Mobilizing Energy
- Building Motivation with Goals
- Optimizing Arousal Levels
- Gaining Inner Strength
- Unleashing Self-Healing
and, in the case of injured and rehabbing athletes
- Reducing Fear and Reluctance
Overthinking VS. Flowing
If you think about the times that you did really well in an event, you’re more likely to find the times when you got into a “flow,” a rhythm or “The Zone.” Understanding these hallowed zones, rhythms and flows can be really useful for everyone from the casual golfer to the professional surfer.
The first thing to understand about that state of flow is it doesn’t come from a good performance, rather it results in a good performance. Too often, we look back on a game and think that we hit a clutch shot and then found the zone. Sports performance research shows the opposite is likely true—we settled into a zone and our shots became more accurate because of it. If this is true, then the most important thing to improve your game is to find your mental flow. In this regard, mental training becomes more important than physical training.
It’s also important to understand what that mental flow actually is. Being “in the zone” is an alpha brainwave state similar to daydreaming, meditation and hypnosis. Most athletes will tell you that their zone is a place where they don’t have to think about their sport, rather they just play. That alpha brainwave state is the minimization of conscious thought and the maximization of subconscious flow.
The conscious mind can only handle a few things at a time, so it can quickly be overwhelmed. The subconscious mind, on the other hand, handles millions of things at once. It makes sense that an athlete would be better served by the part of the mind that adjusts dozens of muscles at a time, accounts for thousands of possible opponent moves, or gauges the necessary swing speed. But when we are ready to serve, shoot or putt, and we think about what we have to do or what we don’t want to happen, we are engaging our limited conscious mind.
As a hypnotherapist, my job is to help my sports performance clients stop using their conscious mind and start using their subconscious mind.
Hypnosis and Imagery
First, through training the mind and muscles to perform as you wish. The subconscious mind is like a giant computer that directs all bodily behavior and automatically accepts any image it receives as real and true. It lacks the ability to distinguish between fact and fiction. Once it "sees" the image of perfect performance it immediately sends electrical and chemical messages throughout the body, directing it to comply with what it perceives as real and true. Studies have shown actual duplication of muscle and nerve activity during imagery and even new neural growth as a result of imaging. This reinforces learning and improves performance automatically. It is not all in your mind ... actual physical changes occur as a result of hypnotic imagery.
Second, is the ability to be both relaxed and productive simultaneously. Numerous studies of top athletes recognize that their ability to perform with passion and emotion, while in a relaxed state, has a direct impact on their ability to perform so remarkably. Performance is inhibited by stress and hypnosis teaches you to remove the blocks that inhibit peak performance.
Mental Rehearsal, Regular visualization creates and reinforces the confidence necessary for top performance. The visualized image convinces the subconscious that this achievement is possible. The automatic nervous system performs in exactly the same manner as followed during a physical rehearsal. Neuromuscular coordination improves.
How Hypnosis Works
Hypnosis can release any mental blocks, fears or limiting beliefs you may have that are keeping you from athletic excellence. Hypnosis also builds your personal self-confidence in yourself and your abilities, assisting you to focus on a successful outcome, instead of fearing a poor performance.
Hypnosis helps you mentally focus on the performance itself, eliminating outside distractions and self-sabotaging thoughts so you are calm and capable of channeling all your energies into your physical activity. Mental imagery is also incorporated into hypnosis for athletic performance. The fact of the matter is your unconscious and subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between a real or imagined experience. Some people are excellent at visualizing, while others are naturally kinesthetic or “feel” things. How would it feel to cross the finish line in your best time ever, or win the gold? What would you be feeling, thinking, seeing or hearing? Regardless of how you imagine a successful future event, your imagined success programs you in a direction for positive results.