Hypnotherapy used to enhance sporting performance is not dissimilar to Sport Psychology. Indeed, they can be difficult to separate as they both work with behaviour and the unconscious mind to varying degrees.
The key difference is that Sports Psychology aims to make small changes and improvements over a long period, whereas Sports Hypnosis achieves major changes in a much shorter time scale.
Sports Hypnosis is far more effective in getting rapid results. In fact a lot of the most effective techniques (such as visualisation) used in Sports psychology are themselves forms of hypnosis, even though many Psychologists are unaware of the fact.
Sports Hypnosis works directly with the subconscious mind, the part of the mind that controls our actions and behaviours, so changes are effected quickly. This is extremely important to sports people who need to achieve “the zone” when competing.
The Sporting Mind
There are three factors that influence our sporting ability; our fitness, our technical skills and our mental skills. Although many sports performers will spend a lot of their time on their fitness and technical skills, the mental side of the game is often neglected. And yet it is amazing how good we can be at using our minds to work against us. Even before we start an activity, we can often find a number of reasons for failure – doubt, bad weather, lack of practice, tiredness, anxiety, stress – and we find ourselves living up (or ‘down’) to our expectations.
Essentially, we can find ourselves performing badly because we are not using our minds in a positive way. As a result, we can form limiting beliefs about ourselves which leave us expecting failure rather than success.
By changing how we use our minds – by enhancing self-belief, dealing with how we respond to committing errors, setting goals and maintaining a positive attitude – it is possible to make a significant impact on our performance levels.
Sport Psychology and Sports Hypnosis
There has been a long history of hypnosis in sport. Since 1956 (Melbourne Olympic games) the Russians have used hypnotic techniques extensively to improve performance and produce champions. You don’t need to look too far in any sport to find great champions using these techniques. The reason most of them don’t like to talk about it is because of the age-old myth that hypnosis is a magical power to make you do things. Athletes utilise many forms of scientific technology to improve their performance including equipment, training advances, nutrition and sports psychology which will usually include focusing and visualisation techniques, both of which are hypnotic techniques.
You don’t have to be a champion to use hypnosis. Anyone can learn and perfect simple, self-hypnosis techniques for:
- Mental imagery and future rehearsal of success (including effective techniques from areas like NLP)
- Focusing on success, strategy (how to get into the success zone when you need to)
- Overcoming mental blocks and barriers
- Reinforcing self-belief, motivation and positive thinking
The greatest of champions and athletes also tend to be the ones who have learned to think successfully, they have mastered the psychology of their individual sport.
So no matter what sport you play, or what level you compete at, Sports hypnosis could help you maximise your potential.
Hypnotherapy can help often help with golf, running, football, cricket, boxing, darts, swimming, and most other sports. Every athlete has inner skills and resources. Accessing these inner resources and putting them to work is often the advantage successful athletes have.
Hypnotherapy can improve and enhance an individual’s mental attitude by helping them to relax, removing anxieties and boosting confidence. Each individual is different, so results will vary from athlete to athlete, however in general, individuals can use hypnosis to maintain composure, overcome distractions and fears and gain confidence in their ability.
The brain can’t distinguish between reality and imagination, and so visualising winning a competition can help tune your mind in for success. If the human mind is capable of imagining something, it’s capable of making it happen. Hypnosis can help athletes:
- improve their confidence and self-belief
- remove negative thoughts or beliefs
- increase motivation and dedication
- use deep relaxation and concentration to imagine success
- maintain composure and overcome distractions.
Solution Focused Hypnotherapy has its foundations rooted in what we know about the brain and how our brain works most efficiently. The more a person understands about the real way their brain functions, then the greater the progress can be made, not only in sports but in life generally.
Often when a person is struggling to achieve their best time, attempting to perfect their golf swing or mastering their nerves before a big race, their focus is on what could go wrong. This type of thinking is the precise reason why they have difficulties, it doesn’t help them improve. Sport is not all about physical ability, although it is that. It is also about mental ability. You often hear on the golf course: ‘I can hit the ball well in practice, but when it’s a competition the nerves take over’.
Solution Focused Hypnotherapy provides our clients with an understanding, a perspective and a vision and how they can make it possible. When people direct their thoughts towards what they would specifically like to be doing differently, then they will get a specific result. You know it makes sense!
Hypnotherapy also uses aspects of mental rehearsal, a concept that has around for many years. The Russian gymnast team in the Sydney Olympics in 1956 used visualisation techniques. Eleven hypnotherapists accompanied the team and it proved an overwhelming success, with the Russian team being placed at the top of the medal table.
Many top sports people use visualisation techniques to optimise their performance. In the London 2012 Olympics, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Heptathlon Gold medallist revealed: “I use visualisation to think about the perfect technique. If I can get that perfect image in my head, then hopefully it’ll affect my physical performance.” English Rugby Union player, Jonny Wilkinson regularly performs visualisation sessions before games. “You are creating the sights, sounds, smells, the atmosphere, the sensation and the nerves, right down to the early morning wake-up call and that feeling in your stomach. It helps your body to get used to performing under pressure.”