This weekend sees the Rugby World Cup 2011 Final fast approaching, and no doubt there are a lot of scenarios running through the players’ minds; lots of emotions flying about and, on the day, lots of
adrenaline too. For many, you only ever get one shot at becoming a World Cup winner, so on that one day you need to take control of your emotions, your fears, your hopes, and focus on playing the best you possibly can, bringing your “A” game.
In many past World Cups, New Zealand have entered as outright favourites, but for whatever reason, they haven’t performed on the big stage, winning the world cup just once back in 1987. So could the New Zealand rugby team gain anything from using hypnosis? The simple answer is yes, and that all sportsmen and women could benefit massively from hypnosis, and many already do.
What can hypnosis do for the sportsman / woman?
Hypnosis in sport is individually designed to meet the need of that athlete no matter what sport they partake in, and at what level.
Here is a list of some of the areas in which hypnosis can help:
- Increase concentration, control internal dialogue and decrease awareness of unimportant external stimuli
- Enhance sensory awareness and muscle control
- Control anxiety, anger and emotionality
- Enhance motivation and enthusiasm
- Increase energy levels, feelings of invigoration and endurance
- Enhance performance skill
- Increase confidence and self efficacy
- Control perception of time and focus on the present experience (time contraction or expansion)
- Resolution of unconscious blocks or conflicts
- Management of discomfort
- Muscle memory
- Deliver mental strength
Many of the areas listed above help rugby players dramatically, increasing their discipline so as to not give away penalties, ensure they focus on their role within the team, to ensure they feel motivated,
enthused and full of invigoration and endurance…
At almost all sporting occasions you will hear the commentators talking about mental strength, mental preparations, attitude and believing that they can win. These are all areas where hypnosis can help.
Hypnosis and the athlete
It is typical for many athletes to come with a negative self fulfilling prophecy, or “worry” about their performance / capabilities. This is a problem at all levels of competition, but once at a professional level, mental attitude plays a massive role in the difference between winning, and losing.
Using hypnosis, performance can be improved by considering:
a) Pre-performance attitude
b) Performance attitude
c) Post performance attitude
Ensuring an athlete’s mental attitude is right before the big game ensures they focus, train hard, avoid nerves and are ready for the big occasion. Mental attitude during the game ensures they focus and play / perform to the best of their abilities, blocking out distractions. Post performance attitude helps identify what went right, areas to focus on and ensures positives are always taken.
Some hypnotherapy approaches
Hypnotherapy is when hypnosis is applied in a therapeutic setting. There are a number of approaches to using hypnotherapy for sporting performance, here we will list just a few of them, illustrating how hypnotherapy can help all round performance, concentration, and ability.
The inner game: This is all about mental practice and attitude, helping to mentally prepare and handle the pressures of the game, the crowd, and even pressures athletes place on themselves. The athlete mentally visualises executing precise motor skills under pressure, at the same time, they visualise a physical experience in their bodies, which strengthens neural patterns.
Direct suggestions to improve performance: Here the individual focuses on their best performance to date, accessing it in their mind and focusing on how they performed and what it felt like. The positives of this performance are emphasised. Suggestion is also used, suggesting to athletes that what they visualised, should be put into action, for example a runner, running at the same level they visualised.
With direct suggestion, a positive state of mind / belief system is established. Athletes are also encouraged to describe in 3 words their best performance; these are then used to “anchor” the positive state so that the athlete can trigger this state as and when they need it.
Suggestions for concentration: Staying in the moment is a big thing for athletes, ensuring they focus directly on what’s at hand and block out all forms of distraction.
Time distortion: Here the athlete “speeds through” challenging or uncomfortable moments while slowing down positive moments, making them last longer.
Self hypnosis: This can be taught so the athlete can effectively visualise and mentally rehearse their winning performance. This is often seen in action when watching “high jumpers” prepare for an attempt. Self hypnosis can also really help with muscle memory, ensuring your body moves as desired.
Keep in mind…
Hypnosis can really help performance in sport, it can help muscle memory ensuring athletes can repeat specific actions over and over again, it can help improve mental attitude and strength, promote feelings of confidence and endurance, and it can raise concentration levels and remove distractions. All in all, hypnosis can make the difference between winning and losing.