Hypnosis for sports performance

by Lorraine McReight

Large numbers of people enjoy watching and taking part in sport and every weekend pubs and parks are full of those who want to enjoy the experience with others. Of those who prefer to ‘do’ rather than ‘see’, some choose sport as a way of keeping fit, whilst others take it much more seriously. All sport requires mental focus, but success in individual sports such as golf or tennis is probably more reliant on competitors having a positive mental attitude.

For those who want to maximise their performance or get the competitive edge, many will consider working with a coach or NLP practitioner. Hypnotherapy is becoming increasingly popular too, as a way to overcome the ‘yips’ or stop negative self-talk. We’re all used to seeing coaches on TV, watching and working with professional sports men and women, but non-professionals are using talking therapists and coaches to improve their standard too.

It’s not too likely that top professionals will themselves be searching the net for a local sports therapist, but amateurs who are very keen, or those who compete at middle to county level, will seek out coaches and hypnotherapists to improve their performance.

Children who are destined for a career in professional sport will also benefit from this type of help. This may be provided at club level, but enthusiastic and dedicated parents do sometimes seek out a private therapist to work with their future ‘star’.

As therapists we have the skills to help adult or junior sportspeople to achieve their goals. So much of sports success is about self-belief, concentration and focus. By using guided imagery, future pacing and anchors we can really help our clients to change their mindset and improve their technique.

But do we need to have an interest or background in sport to be able to offer this service to clients? I believe not. If we had to have personal experience of something to be able to help our clients, we would need to have had a very interesting life indeed!

A legacy of the London Olympics is that a diverse range of sports have been watched in living rooms around the country and some of the more unusual sports are now available for people to try in their communities. 2012 was a triumph for Team GB, and sport and sports people are now considered very ‘cool’ and inspirational. Of course, local clubs and teams may not be as notable as our brilliant women’s football squad or as wealthy as golfer, Rory McIlroy, but if this is an area of coaching and therapy that fascinates you, this could be an area of work that will prove to be successful for you as well as your clients.

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