Serious athletes will be determined to do almost anything that will give them the edge. To be the winner. To be the best in their field.
Hypnosis and guided imagery has been used by many athletes to improve their game and while some may regard this as trickery or mind control, it is actually a legitimate form of treatment that has been proven to be highly effective in bringing about positive change, developing new habits and behaviours and new ways of thinking both logically and creatively.
Sports hypnosis works on the principle of the mind-body connection, and as advances in neuroscience and psychology have been made and the science studied, we know now that the two are unequivocally linked. Our minds and our bodies are in constant communication with a flow of neurotransmitters from the brain to the cells of the body and back again. The mind tells the body how to behave, and the body tells the mind how to feel and how to behave.
And as you can imagine, this has profound implications for sports performance.
Hypnosis can be used to encourage the right sort of messages to be transmitted from the mind to the body, for instance a more relaxed stance when taking a golf swing, or an extra degree of determination that helps you overcome physical resistance in an sporting event.
The objective of sports hypnosis is to bring the mind and body into balance, the physical body connecting to the unconscious mind.
This is why hypnosis is so well suited to sport, which is all about unconscious and instinctive reactions. When athletes are in ‘the zone’ they are in fact in a hypnotic trance as the atheletes attention is fixed and the unconscious mind takes control.
Hypnosis provides sports men and women with an invaluable “secret weapon” that can dramatically improve overall performance.
Many well-known athletes have worked with qualified hypnotherapists to achieve significant gains in their personal performance regardless of their discipline. After all, the unconscious mind is the driving force behind most of our beliefs and behaviours so it makes sense that a technique aimed at changing thoughts at an unconscious level will prove highly effective.
Hypnotherapy can help an athlete perfect their skills, finely tune their technique, improve their self-confidence and overcome self-doubt or performance anxiety. Hypnotherapy also improves focus, a key component for any athlete in order to win.
Tiger Woods is a fine example of a top sportsman who has used hypnosis to achieve a phenomenal level of success in golf. He has reportedly been using self-hypnosis techniques since his early teens. Not only to visualise each swing and stroke but he also uses it to get in the zone – to focus.
Athletes will often use imagery and visualisation just before their event to achieve their desired goal. To see themselves achieving their goal and once focused proceed to do it.
Another way in which hypnosis can be utilised in competitive sport is in dealing with pain and injuries. Learning to disassociate from the pain can help them cope better with it and perform in spite of it.
French International footballer Andre-Pierre Gignac worked with a hypnotherapist during his goal scoring drought. After a few sessions he found the back of the net and went on the complete his next game with a hat-trick (November 2016 Tigres Liga MX quarterfinal second leg against Pumas) Gignac went on to celebrate his goal by pretending to fall asleep in hypnotic style.
Boxer Steve Collins attributed his 1995 shock defeat of Chris Eubank to hypnotherapy and as a direct result of his success fellow boxer Frank Buglioni prepared for his world title challenge using the same sports psychologist and hypnotherapist.
Gail Marra D.Hyp MNCH (Acc) LAPHP is a GHR registered Clinical Hypnotherapist accredited by the National Council for Hypnotherapy, Association for Professional Hypnosis and Psychotherapy, National Register of Psychotherapists and Counsellors and the Complimentary and Natural Healthcare Council
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