Shaun Parker asked:
Many of us dream of one day improving our golf swing, having a better backhand on the tennis court or beating a personal best time during a run. Training and practice can achieve this, but hypnotherapy could also be used to help us reach our goals and make us better at our chosen sport.
Hypnosis techniques have long been used by golfing professionals but the therapy has become more popular in other sports including football, rowing, boxing and cricket. Sports men and women are increasingly aware of the benefits hypnosis can bring to improving their performance alongside other methods such as sports psychology.
Sports psychology uses imagery and mental rehearsal and is commonly used by someone like Tiger Woods. The psychological techniques Woods employs help him visualise his next shot and where the ball will go before ever having to swing a club. By using this rehearsal in his mind, he can ‘act out’ a perfect shot which then aids him mentally as he actually steps up to strike the ball for real.
This works because the mind and body are linked in such a way that by preparing the mind in advance, there is a chance the body will react exactly as you would want it. But don’t think it’s just for professionals, it’s for amateur and recreational sports men and women too. Although you may not want to become a champion, poor performance can affect your enjoyment of a sport and we all want to finish a game or run feeling happy rather than disappointed don’t we? Hypnosis can get you to a level where you can be proud of your performance again and enjoy the sport you take part in.
So how can hypnotherapy help? The therapy works by accessing your sub-conscious (the part of the mind where good and bad memories are stored) and where you keep information about previous performances. By focusing on only the good performances, you can push the bad out of mind preventing you from recalling past mistakes again. With those bad experiences gone, there is less chance of repeating them when playing. You can then just focus on a picture of exactly what you want to do, how you’re going to do it and the feelings associated with getting it right. This is known as an ‘anchoring state’ which can be important when asking your body to react in a certain way.
How does this happen? A hypnotherapist will induce you into a trance-like state which slows your heart-rate and breathing. You will remain in total control during this and the sensation is one of deep relaxation rather than sleep. Once this achieved, the therapist will use beneficial suggestion to help you control your sub-conscious mind and allow you to alter behaviour and feelings that have previously been detrimental to your sporting performance. The process will also remove any anxiety, free up tension in the muscles and boost your confidence.
Hypnotherapy is widely used in sports men and women with long-term injuries too, helping them on the road to recovery. A stretch out of the game can hamper form and leave you with feelings of anger and fear. These negative forces can prolong the injury if not addressed and hypnosis is one way of helping you back.
Belief in your ability plays a major part in your sporting performance and hypnotherapy can increase this greatly. Hypnosis is a natural state of mind and its applications can be used for therapeutic purposes and performance enhancement. Many hypnotherapists specialise in sports performance and are happy to work with individuals as well as teams so get in touch with your local practitioner for further advice on what hypnotherapy can do for you.