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What Is Sports Hypnosis?

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  • Written By: Anna B. Smith
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2016
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Sports hypnosis is a mental exercise in which a person is placed in a state of mental relaxation in an effort to address subconscious motivations. This technique is frequently used to improve an things like an athlete's performance ability, correct negative habits, and reduce pre-performance nerves. Athletes may receive this type of therapy from a professional hypnotist or a sports therapist trained to help the athlete access the suggestive unconscious portions of the human psyche.

Hypnosis relaxes the mind; in many cases, hypnotists are able to plant suggestions in the subconscious minds of relaxed individuals that encourage them to perform certain behaviors about which they may be ordinarily hesitant. The person who is hypnotized must already be somewhat willing to enact each suggestion for the technique to be successful, and no one can be forced to do an action that is against his will. For example, a person who enjoys singing but who is not confident enough to perform in public may be enabled to sing a ballad in front of an audience while hypnotized. This same person, however, could not be forced to commit a crime while in the same mental state.

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Similarly, sports hypnosis uses the abilities already present in an individual to motivate him or her to perform better. Some athletes who practice in their sport daily and are in excellent physical condition are unable to perform at their best when they are outside of the training environment. They may find that when they are forced to play in front of spectators in a situation where their movements are analyzed and judged, that they tend to under-perform and make simple mistakes. They may then seek the help and advice of a professional to discover what mental blocks must be removed to enable them to unlock their full physical potential.

Individuals involved in any type of physical competition, whether football, soccer, or gymnastics, may use some form of sports hypnosis to improve their natural skills and abilities. The goal of each hypnotherapy session is to understand what unconscious desires are hindering or motivating an individual when he or she is competing or performing. This practice does not address the physical skills required to play a sport, such as the ability to throw a football for a touchdown or hit a hockey puck past the goalie. In some forms of hypnotherapy, while a person is hypnotized, the psychologist may plant a positive suggestion in the patient's subconscious that provides him with improved focus and mental clarity when he is on the sports field. The athlete should continue to exercise, practice, and train physically in combination with his hypnotherapy sessions to truly excel in his field.

This type of work may be performed by a professional hypnotist or sports psychologist, who may also teach the athlete self-hypnosis techniques. Hypnotists tend to only address the subconscious portions of the human psyche. They attempt to place the athlete in a relaxed state in which they may access his or her instincts and unconscious behaviors with the goal of altering or improving them. A psychologist may perform some sports hypnosis, but will usually combine this with standard therapy sessions that take place while the patient is awake as well as conscious mental focusing exercises. This can include visualization techniques and positive affirmation that build an athlete's confidence and emotional stamina.

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