Hypnosis Hoodoo: Does Hypnosis Really Work for Professional Athletes?


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’!

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