#39 – Sports Hypnosis with Wendi Friesen, CHT

Sports Hypnosis

Sports Hypnosis is not the magic show you’ve seen in the movies or on TV.  Sports hypnosis is a form of mental training and can used by a hypnotherapist or by the athlete using self-hypnosis to improve athletic performance.

Wikipedia – Definition of Sports Hypnosis

Sports hypnosis refers to the use of hypnotherapy with athletes in order to enhance sporting performance. Hypnosis in sports has therapeutic and performance-enhancing functions.[1] The mental state of athletes during training and competition is said to impact performance.[1] Hypnosis is a form of mental training[2] and can therefore contribute to enhancing athletic execution. Sports hypnosis is used by athletes, coaches and psychologists.[2]

Background paper on Sport Hypnosis science:

Outline of Discussion

  • Athletes can develop (or even carry forward from childhood) certain thought patterns that are detrimental to their sports performance.  Something triggers a certain fear of failure or of embarrassment or whatever, and the thought is a distraction or directly impairs the skill deployment or physical act of performing the sport.
  • A patient experience in little league baseball was impairing his golf performance.  Wendi helped him to avoid that connection and negative impact on his performance.
  • Via hypnosis, people can make changes that they think is impossible.  Like the smoker who has tried many times to quit smoking and now thinks it’s impossible.  Using hypnosis, that person can acquire the feeling of being so proud of having quit…and that feeling gives them extra strength of will to stop smoking.
  • With a hypnosis strategy….having a anchor to bring them back to a balanced state.  Using hypnosis to create a anchor word to reestablish control…..such as golfers when they address the ball, or the cyclists when descending and the bike starts to wobble.
  • The hypnosis strategy can remove the distraction problems so athletes can perform to the full level of their skill..Also able to get faster, cleaner feedback for skill improvement.
  • Golfers went from 0-1 out of 5 to 3-4 out of 5.  Basketball free-throws can also be improved dramatically.
  • The trigger should be initiated automatically, not just by remembering to think of a trigger word.  The dimples on the golf ball, the front of the rim on the basketball court.  Something that will always be there and be noticeable without remembering to look or think of it.
  • Everybody is hypnotizable, and everybody can learn how to do self-hypnosis to create these effects on themselves.  You don’t have to be in some zonked out state.
  • Just relax in a recliner.  A comfortable chair.  But not a bed because you might fall asleep.  Then relax your body.  Start at the top of your head.  Relax your face, your neck, then your shoulders.  You slow your breathing down and notice your arms are heavy.  You belly is limp and your legs are heavy.  Take your time, but let your body get so heavy that you don’t even want to move and nothing needs to happen.
  • Count down from 10.  And say to yourself then when you get down to 1, my unconscious mind will be open to making some changes.
  • Count slowly.  Trust that your unconscious mind is ready.  Take one specific aspect of your sport that you want to focus on.  Think about doing it perfectly and without effort, in a state of flow.
  • Put yourself in the competitive situation and then notice that you are mentally relaxed but also aware and focused mentally while your body is doing the physical movements perfectly and without effort.
  • Do not use negative words, e.g., “I am not afraid”, “I am not nervous”.  Use positive words to describe how you ARE and WANT to be.
  • When you see your competitors, you notice you get a surge of power and you notice how good you are doing and how good it feels.
  • Notice the sounds around you that happen in the sport.  The sounds that used to make you nervous or concerned, they now make you feel powerful and in control.
  • Take yourself to the finish line or wherever the athletic event finishes and let yourself win and feel how good it feels.
  • Then create something to be the auditory  anchor.  A word or a phrase.  (I’m in the flow…I know I can win….this is the best I’ve ever felt).  Also get a physical / kinesthetic anchor.  (A squeeze of the handlebars, a certain way to squeeze the golf club, etc.).  And a visual anchor.  (Something on your handlebars, etc.).
  • Visualization and positive self-talk are similar techniques but hypnosis is a more stable version since it was planted behind the firewalls of your mind.  So you are not trying to convince yourself that you can do it, you KNOW you can do it because you already have done it in your mind.
  • If you have a habit of negative self-talk….”that was stupid”.  After you say the negative thought, take a deep breath, and then say “no, that’s not true anymore.  I’m really sharp and on top of it.”  Be sure not to compound the problem by getting angry with yourself for think negative thoughts.  Just reset and move forward.
  • With exercise / sports, you need to like it….to want to move towards it…getting better for the pleasure of getting better.  Being proud of yourself.  You cannot hate it and be thinking of how to get out of doing it, because then you will quit.
  • Wendi has a program to help people learn to love exercise that works wonders.  
  • For every athlete, just notice negative self-talk.  Stop beating yourself up.  Let it go.  That was in the past and now this is how I feel”  Start to enjoy yourself to get better.
  • By clearing out the interference of your emotions negatively affecting your skills, you have better performance.  It isn’t that hypnosis gives you better skills.  You have skills already.  By eliminating the interference effect of intruding thoughts, negative feelings, etc. you get to rely on just the pure skills you have.  Plus, if you can be rid of the interference effect, you will get a cleaner feedback for accelerating learning.

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The ever curious athlete who demands answers.
About the Author
Curious athlete who demands answers. Husband to Susan ( Father of 3 daughters. Athletic pursuits over time, in reverse order: cycling, skiing, mountaineering, rock climbing, triathlon, golf, tennis, football.

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