By Tony Sokol
How hypnosis for sports helps athletes enhance their game and focus
Athletes train to achieve maximal results with a minimum of effort. A one-two combination punch in a boxing ring, saving energy for a last minute sprint on the field, or workout cycles in the gym. With sports hypnosis athletes can enhance performance while they sleep. The mental state of athletes during training and competition impacts performance and hypnosis is a form of mental training. Sports hypnosis is used by coaches, psychologists, and many celebrity athletes. Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Wayne Gretzky, and Joe DiMaggio are well-known for their use of self-hypnosis.
Mike Tyson was undisputed world heavyweight champion by the time he was 20 years old. He won his first 19 fights by knockout. Tyson told Britain’s Daily Telegraph he was hypnotized to be more aggressive in the ring. Wanting Tyson to be as ferocious as he could be in the ring, his manager Cus D’Amato, brought in a hypnotist the boxer could work with several times a day.
Mixed martial artist Miesha Tate, the Women’s Bantamweight Champion in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, turned to hypnosis to help her avoid getting into bad situations in the ring. Tate was the first UFC fighter, male or female, to win a world title by submission in the final round when she choked out Holly Holm at UFC 196. Tate became a wrestler while attending Franklin Pierce High School in Tacoma, Washington. After years of competition, she expanded her talents to produce The Miesha Tate Show podcast, which profiled Dr. Marc Savard, a leading comedy hypnotist with a residency at Las Vegas’ Planet Hollywood.
But sports aren’t all fun and games, especially on the professional level. Athletes are expected to perform at maximum capacity for long periods of time. This requires practices, both on the field and in their minds.
“Mental preparation is a very important component necessary to win,” says Lyman Good, also known as “Cyborg,” a second degree professional Mixed Martial Arts black belt. “As an athlete I believe it’s as important to have your mind armed with the ability to focus and harness a level of confidence that will support your goal of not only winning the competition but having your head straight to train every day at 100 percent capacity.”
Baseball legend Yogi Berra one noted “90 percent of this game is fifty percent mental.” Sports psychology began to be studied around the 1920s, and the study and use of hypnosis began to be documented in the 1950s when members of the Russian Olympic team made use of hypnosis as a performance-enhancing tool. A hypnotherapist can guide an athlete to accept and achieve perfection.
Sports Hypnosis can eliminate freezing up at the last minute, “choking,” or a panic response. It can alleviate fears of losing or injury. Sports hypnosis techniques can contribute to faster healing and injury recovery. Hypnosis helps with focus, concentration, endurance, and mental toughness.
Sports hypnosis isn’t competitive, but very few Sports Psychologists who practice in the U.S. are Certified Sports Hypnotherapy Specialists. Alpha Mind’s Elena Mosaner helps the mind work with the body. Her sessions activate neural pathways, muscles reactions and body chemistry during mental rehearsal.
“I’ve had difficulties in the past which made it tough to not only prepare right mentally but also compete with my mind sharp,” Good says. “After working with Elena, it was clear to me the weak links in the chain of my thoughts and what I needed work on. She helped me to vanquish doubt, negative thinking, rumination, and comparisons to other people. The more we worked together the more I felt ‘unlocked’ and unchained.’
During hypnosis the athlete is trained to focus their concentration so they will not be distracted by negative thoughts. Hypnosis provides the structure to vividly imagine overcoming any obstacle in a game or mentally experience the perfect swing, pitch, catch or kick. A soccer goalie can mentally rehearse saving penalties. For example, an athlete can use mental visualization, seeing the perfect outcome of a match the night before competition when they go to sleep. The mind cannot tell the difference between real and imagined events. Research shows imagining yourself performing a sports skill causes similar electromyographical (EMG) activity in the musculature that occurs during the physical execution. The same neural pathways, muscles reactions and body chemistry are activated. Sports hypnosis also creates positive expectations.
“I felt a rise in confidence and a much clearer understanding of my goals and my focus,” Good says. “It showed in the night I competed recently in UFC 230. I felt a clear focus and confidence that translated physically for me to have won the fight that night. The best part of working with her was how simple she made it seem. How she simply dialed in some reprogramming of the mind, pattern of thinking, and how it easily changed my behaviors. I thank her for the work she’s done and will continue to practice an invaluable tool she helped arm me with to be successful both in and out of the cage.”
AlphaMind can uncage the ultimate athlete.
Contact AlphaMind to set up an in person session in our office for sports hypnosis in San Diego or call 646 450 8167. Hypnosis sessions are held over Skype as well.