Archive for August, 2011

Hypnosis Hoodoo: Does Hypnosis Really Work for Professional Athletes?

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011


When I work with an athlete there always comes a time when we need to have ‘that talk’. You know the one – the hypnosis talk.

Understandably, most control conscious athletes have a high degree of trepidation about being hypnotised, especially when their only experience of hypnosis has been to see ordinary people on stage encouraged to perform for a man dressed in a sequin shirt and shiny trousers who appears to be controlling them.

And as these ordinary people dance like chickens or joyfully throw themselves into compromising positions with strangers for the audiences entertainment, this orchestrated stage show has little in common with the traditional hypnosis used by therapists every day of the week.

The truth is no one can ‘control’ another person’s mind by mere verbal or physical suggestion unless they want to be controlled – but then that begs the question – who really has the control?

Hypnosis - getting inside another's headEffective suggestibility is a powerful skill to own, it allows you to guide and manoeuvre others in a desired direction – but even with this skill you are persuading and selling, not controlling.

Hypnosis works because it allows us as mind coaches to lower the brains natural internal filters and therefore any conscious resistance an athlete may be having to a certain skill, belief or suggestion.

Our internal filtration system dictates what we will and won’t accept as being true and even if deep down we know something is beneficial for us we may still have strong beliefs otherwise. Effective hypnosis enables us to disengage those filters around a certain belief and subconsciously layer new positive suggestions in their place.

The result, when the mind goes searching for a response or reaction to something that previously could have resulted in fear, panic, sadness etc a more desirable response appears as a viable option such as empowerment, happiness, and confidence and becomes the number one option.

The same process can also help a coach ‘flag’ a specific technique or physical response as the preferred option, and again when called upon, the brain will find the new and improved version over the old shaky or damaged version.

The mind is wired to protect itself and so can often remove options it deems harmful from our search field, burying it in the deepest, darkest recesses of our memory  – however these removed or buried emotionally-weighted actions often resurface causing confusion and emotional discomfort.

Hypnosis can also be a useful technique in managing these kinds of emotional barriers especially if they are inhibiting an athlete from performing and it is all based on the emotions of past events.

Of course these traditional forms of hypnosis where a client is encouraged to close their eyes and relax are not the only forms available to us as mind coaches. If a Mind Coach is particularly skilled the conversational forms of hypnosis such as Ericksonian are utilised throughout most sessions often without the athlete ever being aware they are subconsciously being guided!

Conversational hypnosis is a carefully crafted form of communication where verbal suggestibility is weaved into conversation, layering in better options, new choices, better ways of thinking and even manoeuvring an athlete away from a particular way of thinking.

Hypnosis is one of the most versatile and targeted tools for a mind coach, especially considering there are many different applications and forms of hypnosis available to us.

In order for hypnosis to be truly effective there has to be a deep trust and rapport between the athlete and the mind coach, an understanding that the mind coach has the athletes best interests at heart and is respectful of the athletes career.

Many athletes are amazed at how simple the hypnosis process is, as they can understand and respond at any time. They have full control over their own minds and do not feel manipulated in any way during the process.

So if you have ever considered hypnosis to enhance your performance development then maybe it’s time to have ‘that talk’!

Bringing It! TaeKwondo Blackbelt Style!

Monday, August 8th, 2011


As many of you would know I like to close ‘loops’ (at strategic points in time of course) and so as a follow up to previous blog posts on Point To Point and Re-Patterning Visualisation where we discussed my son’s structured and strategic progress up the Taekwondo belt rankings.

Going from a youngster who couldn’t string more then two tasks together to over the last couple of weekends going through his grading process for his black belt in Taekwondo.

This required in-depth knowledge of various skills, including:

  • multiple patterns raging from 9 to 38 moves in sequential order
  • detailed knowledge of punches, blocks, kicks and defence moves
  • weapon sequences
  • board breaking and
  • multiple attacker defence

He put everything he had learned into practice; effectively managing his nerves to perform outstandingly well and obtain his First Dan Black Belt – the day after his 13th birthday.

Well done Son.

Sports Commentary: Is The Past Really In The Past?

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Does the past always influence the future based on fact, or is it all psychology?

When economists forecast the rise and fall of financial trends or when political commentators predict the swings in government – and get it right – are they just clever predictions based on past events and cold statistics, or is there more to it? Could they be psychologically influencing our decisions and future choices unwittingly with the words they use?

If we take the same parallel with sport, sporting commentators speculate on the outcome of a game based on past results of the player or team.

Again is this just the sum total of interesting statistics, relevant information and probable mathematics, or does their suggestibility hold a more subconscious influence over the players and impact on the potential outcome of the game.

In the same way people are influenced into believing and blindly following social, economic, health and even fashion trends, covert use of targeted language can also heavily influence our athletes into following performance trends.

This could result in either psychologically winning or losing a competition before they ever step onto the pitch – all based on the expert’s analysis.

Most sporting commentators are past or current players, coaches or influential people within their sporting community and often hold a great deal of respect from within that code.

So clearly their opinions and predictions matter to those who they are commentating on!

If the commentators believe a particular team is certain to lose and they publically verbalise these beliefs, boosting their point of view with statistics, history and plays as proof then the self-belief of the players on the potentially losing team will diminish – thus becoming a self fulfilling prophecy instigated from the commentary box.

Humans are socially and psychologically pack animals, guided by the community, socially driven to assimilate and conditioned to believe and follow our leaders – especially those we emotionally adorn. So it stands to reason when a well respected social influencer tells you you’re destined to lose, the doubt enters your mind and becomes a focus point now giving you the option to lose – as it is expected.

The same outcome is achieved when statistics are highlighted as a probable outcome of the future such as ‘the last time these teams met they lost by 100 points’ or ‘this team have never won at this venue before!’ All these factors and the social expectation weigh heavily on their minds and performance.

So has our thirst for up to the minute knowledge, opinions and statistics and the medias willingness to supply that information begun to influence how an athlete physically and mentally performs? Athletes will tell you ‘No!’ They will say the media plays little part in their preparation or performance – they say this because they are told to say it not necessarily because they believe it.

So as a coach or commentator we have a duty and responsibility to understand that what we say could have an impact on the outcome and psychology of an athlete.