To be a successful athlete requires a combination of ability, dedication, mental focus, and effort. Whether playing team sports or solo, professional athletes know they aren’t just playing a physical game, it’s also mental. Athletes need to take advantage of every way possible that they can to out-perform their competition and that’s why hypnosis and CBT have become extremely popular among professional athletes.
Sport’s Psychology + CBT + Hypnotherapy
Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a system of psychotherapy that works to reduce excessive emotional reactions and self-defeating behaviour by modifying the faulty or erroneous thinking and maladaptive beliefs that underlie these reactions (Beck, Rush, Shaw & Emery, 1979). Based on the premise that maladaptive behaviour and emotion is “cognitively mediated” (Butler, Chapman, Forman & Beck, 2006), CBT has elicited much interest in the treatment of psychological problems both in and outside the arena of sport.
Sports psychology has been around for over 100 years (probably more, we just didn’t recognise it as a separate approach) and hypnotherapy has been an empirically verified form of performance booster for as long. It has been scientifically proven to be effective in helping athletes bring about positive change, develop new habits and behaviours, and release unhealthy or unproductive emotions, habits and behaviours in order to boost their performance. Many well-known athletes have worked with hypnotherapists to achieve significant gains in their personal performance, regardless of their sport - Tiger Woods, Kevin McBride, Michael Jordan and US Olympic athlete Mary Lou Retton and countless Olympic teams who have their therapists travel with them as part of their support teams.
Sports psychology and sports hypnosis are largely intertwined as they both work with behaviour and the unconscious mind to varying degrees. In fact, a lot of the most effective techniques (such as visualisation) used in Sports psychology are themselves forms of hypnosis.
Sports hypnosis works directly with the subconscious mind. This is the part of the mind that controls our actions and behaviours, so changes are affected quickly. This can be very useful for sports people who need to get in the “zone” before and during the time in which they compete.
How Can Hypnosis and CBT Help?
As the subconscious mind is very much the driving force between most of our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and behaviours, it makes sense to use a technique which can elicit change at the subconscious level as this can be very effective. Hypnosis can be an incredibly useful technique.
Hypnosis can help you overcome issues of worry, fear, stress or self-doubt which may be keeping you from moving onto the next level of performance. It can help you hone your skills, fine-tune a technique, and have an increased level of self-belief and confidence which will enable you to excel beyond that which you previously thought possible. Hypnosis can also help you acquire the intense focus required to be at the top of your chosen sport. It can help you overcome performance anxiety or pre-event nerves and jitters which can make the difference between completing that race, maintaining your focus while in a football match, refocussing your mind on scoring the runs/ shot or moving past a mental block of an injury.
An athlete who uses hypnosis trains their mind to think and focus in the exact way they need it to in order to perform at their absolute best. When athletes come to me for help, whether they are training for a marathon or preparing for county try-outs or a competition, or are in the midst of their regular season, they can expect to work on the following areas so they can reach their goals:
Often what separates the winners from the rest of the pack is sheer grit and determination. They are the ones that never give up even if they are older, smaller, or seem to have the odds stacked against them somehow. Because they think and train like a champion all of the time, not some of the time.
Does visualising yourself performing your sport improve performance? Studies have shown time and time again the answer to this question is an unconditional, yes. And professional athletes will tell you they rely on mental rehearsal to give themselves an edge over the competition, to help correct bad habits and correct form.
Believe in Yourself
Athletes have got to believe in their abilities to succeed. The quickest way to ruin your performance and enjoyment of a sport is to tell yourself you aren’t good enough or that you can’t do it. Remember that in athletes of equal talent and ability, those who believe in themselves will outperform those who doubt themselves.
Despite all of your hard work and training, sometimes things go still go wrong. A pass is fumbled, an injury happens, a shot is missed, a teammate makes an error, weather conditions turn for the worse. There are some things that are simply out of an athlete’s control. Successful athletes understand that these setbacks cannot distract their focus. They need to be able to rebound immediately, adjust to the new situation, and continue to think and perform like a champion.
Hypnosis is also used to help athletes relax and avoid thinking distracting thoughts while playing. Of course, athletes experience stress outside of their sport, whether it is a relationship or family issue. Student athletes are often under pressure to make the expected grades, study for tests and excel at their sport so they can earn or maintain university scholarships. Learning how to manage their stress, relax, and get in the zone - thinking about nothing else except their sport when it is competition time is critical to their performance.
I develop a tailored skills-based approach to target the specific areas of your sports performance that are causing concern, or where you feel as though you aren’t performing perhaps as well as you could. We will use a variety of visualisation techniques and empirically supported techniques to address any issues you are having, So whether you need to:
restore and build your confidence;
improve your motivation for training and/or competing;
manage your competition anxiety;
stop your negative self-talk;
improve your focus and concentration;
create solid training and performance goals;
help to prepare for competitions; or
overcome your injuries or pain (working with your physio or doctor)
We can work together to formulate a treatment specific to your goals and provide you with the right tools to greatly improve your performance and get you to where you want to be. I will help you to establish a working model of useful techniques to use to change the way fundamentally, positively and permanently you behave, think, act and react when you’re striving for the goal you want in your chosen sport. My aim is to provide you with the skills and techniques to improve your performance, not only during your on-going treatment, but more importantly for your future activities, events and competitions.
Ready to take your performance up a notch? Reach out today for a free chat, let’s get you where you want to be!