The largest percentage of clients coming to visit me at Intuitive Hypnosis in Portland, Oregon for sports related requests, tend to be those wishing to improve their golf game. However, hypnosis can be equally useful with all kinds of individual and competitive sports. I have worked with clients who successfully improved their performance levels in competitive ice skating, triathlon, varsity softball, horseback riding, K-9 competition, and more. The most successful of clients and athletes also tend to be those who have learned to “see” themselves as successful. They have learned to master the psychology of their individual and/or team sport.
Anytime we learn something new, we create neural pathways in our brain. Through repetition and reinforcement, those neural pathways become stronger, more deeply entrenched in our subconscious mind. As you may remember from previous articles, our subconscious mind does not know the difference between “performing” an activity, and “pretending” or “thinking about” performing an activity. That means that if you have practiced doing something the wrong way, by reminiscing over your mistakes, you are actually reinforcing and creating the habit of doing it wrong.
This is a really important point. If you make a mistake, for example in your golf game, and then re-live that mistake over and over in your mind, your subconscious mind responds “as if” you actually did it wrong over and over, thereby reinforcing that habit of doing it wrong. Make sense?
No wonder you do great when you are golfing all by yourself, there is no pressure, no conditioned response to “trigger” your well-rehearsed mistake while golfing in front of your friends.
It is easy to find examples of well-known athletes that have worked with highly trained hypnotherapists to create significant improvement in their personal performance, regardless of their sport. For example:
- Phil Jackson (NBA head coach) insists that the Chicago Bulls practiced daily self-hypnosis when he coached Michael Jordan and the Bulls to their 6 NBA Championships.
- Boxer Ken Norton used hypnosis training before his famous victory over Mohammed Ali.
- Mark McGwire (baseball player/home run champ) uses hypnosis to help him relax.
- Other popular and famous athletes were major league baseball players such as Rod Carew, George Brett and Damion Easley who all used hypnosis to improve their games.
- The entire 1983 Chicago White Sox team used hypnosis to help win their division and reach the playoffs that year.
- Famous tennis player, Jimmy Connors, used hypnosis in winning the U.S. Open Championship.
- Tiger Woods’ mental coach, Jay Brunza, hypnotizes him to block out distractions and focus on the golf course.
- Jack Nicklaus claims that his success is entirely owed to practicing concentration and visualization.*
The bottom line is that hypnosis can help sports performance whether you are a weekend golfer, a marathon runner, or a professional competitor. By learning self-hypnosis techniques, you can build your confidence and enhance your athletic skills.
The components of successful sports hypnosis treatment include the following:
- Focused visualization and rehearsal of future success
- Focusing on successful execution of the correct postures, stance, and/or moves, and practicing the use of the necessary tools to get in the ‘zone’
- Overcoming mental blocks or barriers caused by negative thinking
- Reinforcing self-belief, motivation and positive thinking
By practicing successful athletic performances over and over in your mind, you create the neural pathways that make it easy to re-create that success in real life. This, in conjunction with building self confidence and the belief that you CAN succeed, result in improved sports performance.
Hypnosis and Sports Performance