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Athletic Performance   


You Can Reach Your Personal Best!

What the Mind Can Conceive, the Body Can Achieve.

For the average person, hypnotherapy cannot turn a golfing duffer into an international champion. Factors, skills and abilities other than mental are obviously involved. But, hypnosis can be used to enable a player to achieve his or her personal best!

In a cover story on the 1984 Olympics, Time Magazine reported that on the night before the finals in women's gymnastics Mary Lou Retton, then 16 years old, lay in bed at the Olympic Village mentally rehearsing her performance ritual. She had done the same on hundreds of previous nights, visualizing herself performing all her routines perfectly - imagining in her mind all the moves and rehearsing them again and again. The result was a performance of perfection, presented with charm, poise and confidence, culminating in a gold medal. 

"What the mind can conceive, the body can achieve!" Proof of that statement has been provided countless times. Mary Lou pictured a perfect performance in her mind. Her body produced it. The same capability is available to any sports enthusiast. If the skills and coordination abilities do not equal Olympic levels, they can carry the player to the heights of personal best, providing new levels of achievement and satisfaction.

To train the body to the limits of its capabilities without simultaneously training the mind is to invite mediocrity. Sports psychologists have claimed that for Olympic caliber athletes, 80 percent of that athlete's performance is in the mind. 

What the Mind Can Do

Mental rehearsal, or visualization, can create and reaffirm the confidence necessary to achieve top performance. The picture visualized in the mind can convince the subconscious that achievement is possible. The automatic nervous system performs in exactly the same manner followed during a physical rehearsal. Neuromuscular coordination improves. What your mind can conceive, you can achieve. If you can think it and see it in your mind, you can do it.

What can be accomplished through the powers of the mind? Perhaps most important is the development of positive attitudes. Negative thoughts pertaining to performance skills can be changed or eliminated. Enjoyment of the sport will be enhanced to a major degree as skills improve to the point where intermittent incidents of poor performance no longer arouse irritation, anger, discouragement or detrimental emotional reactions. Concentration, coordination, technique all can improve as well as awareness of proper form and posture.

Sports enthusiasts face the same stumbling blocks that people have to deal with in all other areas of life - the biggest of all is fear, and fear comes in many forms. Fear of failure is always restrictive. Its hidden partner, fear of success is experienced as an apprehension that success can create the expectation of further improvement. Fear of humiliation concerns many who perform in front of others. Competition can produce sensations of intimidation resulting in deterioration of skills.

Hypnotherapy, or properly learned and applied self-hypnosis, can work to reduce or eliminate the mental obstacles to peak performance in sport activities.

The Steps to Achievement

The goal of hypnosis is not the learning or acquisition of the basic skills involved, though these could be helped through hypnosis (as in enhancing learning skills). The goal is to enable the athlete to achieve the best personal level, performing at peak. As with virtually all hypnosis, the first step must be relaxation. Relaxation to a level appropriate for the implanting of hypnotic suggestion is not resting, but a form of trance in which the subconscious is readily able to receive appropriate suggestions.

Goal setting is essential. These goals may be set by the athlete, coach or therapist or a combination thereof. It is important for the goals to be specific and focused on the area in which improvement is desired. Such as: playing better tennis is not an appropriate goal, developing a better backhand is a valid goal. Goals must be achievable in the short-term step by step so that success and completion are experienced. 

Concentration is vitally important, and sometimes difficult to develop. Hypnotherapy has long been an effective means of improving concentration capabilities. Distractions need to be eliminated. Post-hypnotic cues may prove useful in stimulating both concentration and developing specific skills. Visualization at the moment of performance can produce dramatic results. 

Finally, mental rehearsal is the ultimate key to superlative performance. It can prove more productive than physical practice. Imagery is not merely visual in nature; it can include all the senses. Perfection truly requires the use of all senses.

Portions of this brochure were adapted from one developed by the National Guild of Hypnotists educational faculty and copyrighted in 1991. It has been adapted by The Labyrinth Center in 1999.


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The Labyrinth Center - Wisconsin
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(608) 845-2677  


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7241 Greystone Street  *  Lakewood Ranch, FL 34202   
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