Using Self-Hypnosis for Getting In That Optimum Zone

Hypnotize yourself. Use whatever process or technique that you know, or read one of my articles that shows how to do this. Imagine an occasion when you performed a difficult task really well. Ideally, an occasion when your arousal level was spot on, maybe this is a time when you ran at your optimum level or a time when you felt you were really in the zone. Next up, now imagine an occasion when your level of anxiety and arousal was too high for you to perform to your best. Maybe this was an occasion when you experienced an excessive amount of anxiety that impaired your performance.

Start to practice bringing the scale down to 100 (the optimal level) by using your breath. Each time you inhale, say the word ‘strong’ or ‘focus’ to yourself – use any word that you can then go on to associate with optimum performance. Exit Hypnosis. Open your eyes, wiggle your fingers and toes and start to practice your breathing prior to training and any races you run. The more you do this, the more easily it’ll start to happen by itself too, as a matter of course.

Treating Performance Anxiety in Athletes

Athletes often experience stress during games or competitions, which in turn compromises their physical performance. These negative thoughts can cause athletes to “choke” even if they would otherwise have a high performance level. This common form of anxiety that occurs before or during play time can have a devastating effect on athletic performance. This is where the relatively new practice of sports psychology comes in to play.

Our bodies are programmed with the fight or flight response, which takes action in an athletic setting when the player is afraid of losing or performing poorly. The way to override this fight or flight response is not with more practice, but with mental conditioning. Practicing is good for improving upon a skill, but when an athlete experiences performance anxiety, their skill level usually isn’t the cause of the problem. The problem lies in the mental aspect of the game, so mental conditioning and relaxation techniques are more likely to solve the issue than traditional practice.

Professional sports players are often criticized when they do not perform at their best all the time; they are expected to be machines. Behind the scenes, many pro athletes suffer from anxiety. Dontrelle Willis, of the Detroit Tigers, missed the first six weeks of the 2009 season due to an anxiety disorder. Khalil Greene of the St. Louis Cardinals agreed to be placed on the disabled list for 15 days due to anxiety. Boxer Mike Tyson has admitted to suffering from chronic depression, most likely from the pressures of his sport. Anxiety and other mental disorders are not uncommon in professional sports, but most athletes do not talk about these problems in the public light.

Sports stars often hire sports psychologists to help them with common anxiety problems. Most of the time, the athletes simply work to develop their self confidence and mental strength before and during a game.Sports psychologists help athletes learn coping skills so they can look at the game in a new light.

The first mistake that some sports players make is to overthink their performance. This causes them to dwell on potentially disastrous outcomes, which in turn leads to severe performance anxiety as they try to fight their negative thoughts. Sports psychology professionals work with athletes that have these problems and help to train their brain to be supportive, not destructive, during sporting activities. There are a few common methods that sports psychologists use to promote good mental practice.

The first method to reducing performance anxiety is learning relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation or diaphragmatic breathing. Practicing these techniques reduces the physical response to anxiety, such as tense muscles, shallow breathing or a skyrocketing heart rate. All of these effects on the body can lead to a poor performance on the field, so keeping them under control is important for success. The techniques can be practiced weeks, days and hours before a competition to ensure nerves will be kept at bay.

Another way sports psychologists reduce anxiety in athletes is through cognitive restructuring. Cognitive restructuring is the process of changing habits, and it is especially helpful to athletes in this situation. The process of changing habitual thinking helps athletes channel adrenaline and pressure into excitement and motivation instead of worry. The athletes that have mastered this are able to rise to the challenge time after time without fail.

Although these strategies can be practiced alone, people often lack the discipline and motivation to coach themselves in this issue. Sports psychologists specialize in helping athletes of every skill level overcome their anxiety problems and perform to the best of their ability every time they play.

Sports Psychology Myths – Are Athletes Weak If They Resort to Mental Training?

Are you or your players afraid other athletes will see you as weak if you have to do mental training or work with a sports psychologist? Still today, athletes buy into myths about sports psychology, which prevent them from embracing the benefits of sports psychology. I recently received an email from a young hockey player getting ready for try outs. This hockey player states:

“I have friends who perform better than me and they don’t read any mental training books. Every time I open my mental training book I feel no motivation to read because better athletes don’t do anything to mentally prepare themselves. I feel that I’m weak by being probably the only guy going to try-outs that reads mental training books. I have only heard of a very few great athletes that do mental preparation.”

When I receive these emails from athletes, I’m surprised that people still view sports psychology as a weakness and thus think they are inferior because they need to do mental training. Unfortunately, a few athletes still buy into myths about sports psychology and thus shy away. This is an interesting–and misguided–conception about the value of sports psychology.

One of the hallmarks of great athletes is their interest in improving themselves. That doesn’t just apply to their physical skills; it applies to their mental game, as well. There’s nothing weak, wimpy or sissy-like about being willing and eager to improve oneself and one’s performance.

I do think that some athletes are naturally more talented than others and confidence comes easily for them. Other athletes have to work harder in sports to keep up and they might not develop the confidence they need to be fully confident. In any case, athletes at all levels are using mental training and sports psychology to become better athletes–no matter if they are in a slump or trying to keep a winning streak alive.

I also know that athletes in some sports embrace sports psychology more than others. In golf, tennis, and baseball, for example, athletes accept mental training as another type of performance enhancement. In addition, many professional athletes attribute their success to mental toughness including golfer Tiger Woods, NASCAR driver Jeff Burton, and basketball player Michael Jordan….

“The most important attribute a soccer player must have is mental toughness. Before you can win, you must have the will to prepare to win.”
~Mia Hamm

Lastly, if you or your athletes worry that others think you’re weak (if you do mental training) spend too much time thinking about how others view you. You can’t worry about what others think about your training or your game. If this is you, you’re great candidates for mental training! With mental training, you can learn to “tune out” worries about what others think of you and focus on what’s most important-playing the game and performing your best.

Athletes are more likely to embrace sports psychology when they understand it and its benefits. However, the best way for athletes to buy into mental training is when they actually experience its power firsthand. Sports psychology helps athletes perform more consistently, find the zone more often, keep a winning streak alive, and learn how to think well under pressure.