Training only the body and ignoring the mind invites a mediocre performance.
Hypnosis won't turn the weekend warrior into a national champion, but it can help anyone achieve their personal best. How? By arming them with improved concentration, a clearer focus on goal achievement, the ability to visualize, and most importantly, a strong positive attitude.
Most sports psychologists will agree: 80 percent of an athlete's performance is due to attitude and mental conditioning.
Concentration is vital, but sometimes difficult to develop. Hypnotherapy has long been an effective means of improving concentration skills. Post-hypnotic suggestion can help a person focus on the task at hand and shut out distractions.
Goal setting is also essential. Without a goal, it is pointless to begin any task. A goal must be specific. Otherwise it would be impossible to tell when the goal was reached. Playing better tennis is too general, but improving a serve or backhand is easily attainable, and successful attainment is easily recognized.
Visualization can also provide an essential element to achieving success. Mental rehearsal before the performance can lead to increased confidence during the performance. Visualization at the moment of performance can also produce dramatic results.
Imagery should include all the senses, and not be limited to just the visual. A diver, for example, would "see" the form of the dive, "smell" the chlorine, feel the wetness of entering the water, and hear the cheers of the crowd. Perfection requires the use of all senses.
Many professionals employ some form of self-hypnosis to help them achieve their success. Mary Lou Retton, for example was only 16 when she won the gold medal in 1984. The night before the competition, she laid in bed and mentally rehearsed her performance. Just as she had many times before, she imagined herself going through the routine. She saw her body performing the moves she felt the impact as her hands grabbed the bars. She imagined herself performing all her routines perfectly - seeing herself in her mind, going through all the moves with charm, poise and confidence. The result was a perfect performance, and a gold metal.
We, as Comrades Marathon runners in South Africa, have wonderful results by watching videos of previous years Comrades Marathons, while at the same time visualizing ourselves finishing at a certain time.
Most important is the positive attitude. Hypnotherapy can change negative thoughts and eliminate performance anxieties. The occasional poor performance will no longer cause irritation, anger, discouragement or any other detrimental emotional reaction. Performance anxieties related to fear of failure, fear of humiliation or even the fear of success (the apprehension that success will cause others to expect even further improvement) can also be dealt with and eliminated. As a result, concentration, coordination, and technique will all improve. Enjoyment will be greatly enhanced.
Dr. Trudie Bartholomew