Serious athletes are often determined to find anything that will give them an edge over their competition, as well as help them perform optimally. Hypnosis and imagery have been utilized by many such athletes to improve their game. While some regard hypnosis as some mystical or magical form of mind control, it is actually a legitimate form of treatment which has proven to be effective in bringing about positive change, developing new habits and behaviours, and releasing unhealthy or unproductive emotions, habits and behaviours. Many well-known athletes have worked with highly trained hypnotherapists to achieve significant gains in their personal performance, regardless of their sport.
Since the unconscious mind is really the driving force between most of our beliefs and behaviours, it makes sense that a technique which elicits change at the unconscious level can be highly effective. Hypnosis is such a technique. Hypnosis can help an athlete overcome issues of self-doubt which may be keeping him from moving to the next level. It can help an athlete hone his skills, fine-tune a technique, and have a level of self-belief and confidence which will enable him to excel beyond what he may have previously thought possible. Hypnosis can also help an athlete acquire the intense focus required to be at the top in his sport. Hypnosis can help an athlete overcome performance anxiety or pre-game jitters which can make the difference between winning a gold medal and coming in 6th place.
Tiger Woods is an excellent example of an incredible athlete who has used hypnosis to achieve a phenomenal level of success in golf. He has reportedly been utilizing powerful self-hypnosis techniques since his early teens. Not only has he used it to visualize every swing and stroke in his mind before carefully executing it on the course, he also uses it to “get in the zone”. Self-hypnosis methods have helped him, like many successful athletes, quiet his mind, release any anxiety, and become 100% focused as he plays the game. Such laser focus can be especially important in a game like golf where onlookers and other things can be very distracting. Tiger Woods has clearly shown how powerful hypnosis can be to conquer his mind and achieve extremely high levels of success.
As Tiger Woods can attest, imagery (or visualization) is effective self-hypnosis techniques which can help athletes perform better. A gymnast may visualize herself going through every movement of her routine over and over in her mind. A basketball player may visualize himself making a perfect free throw shot hundreds of times. By using imagery or visualization, these athletes are conditioning their minds and their bodies to carry out the movements in reality just as they have performed them hundreds of times in their minds. Mary Lou Retton reported used visualization to help win the gold medal in gymnastics at the 1984 Olympics.
Athletes will often use imagery and visualization just before their event to achieve their desired goal. By closing their eyes and focusing on achieving their goal, they can improve their performance. Once they have pictured it in their mind they then proceed to do it. Utilizing this technique is especially beneficial when the sport requires a brief burst of energy.