Sports Hypnosis

Sports Hypnosis Techniques

The following self hypnosis techniques are all based on common sports hypnosis practice. They can be used to improve performance, get better results, overcome recurring problems and access the flow state. They can be used for any sport and for any level of play. The only requirement is to find somewhere where you can sit or lie comfortably and where you won't be disturbed.

Technique 1 - Accessing The Flow State

This technique can be used to access the flow state - that state of effortless, unconscious skill when you seem to merge with the game and your play just flows.

  1. Close your eyes and spend a few moments just focusing on your breathing. You can deepen the sense of relaxation by saying the word "calm" to yourself on every out breath, and seeing the word "calm" in your mind's eye.
  2. As you begin to relax, get a sense of a time when you've felt "in the flow". If this is on the sports field, that's good, but it doesn't have to be. It can be a time when you were enjoying a conversation with friends, or when you were at work, or even when you were by yourself.
  3. Build up a picture of that time, and see it in front of you in your mind's eye, as if you were looking at it on a TV screen or on stage. Imagine it being lit up by a spotlight. When you've made that mental picture as vivid as you possibly can, imagine stepping into that spotlight and really feeling that state of flow. As you do so, pinch your thumb and forefinger together.
  4. Relax, and take a mental step backwards out of that spotlight. Repeat this procedure at least five times, building up a picture of that time you felt in the flow, before stepping inside it and pinching your thumb and forefinger together.
  5. Open your eyes and return to normal awareness when you're ready.

By pinching your thumb and forefinger together, you've set up a physical "anchor" to the flow state, in just the same way as certain scents or sounds become indelibly associated with certain memories. To get those "in the flow" feelings back, simply pinch your thumb and forefinger together again. The more you do this, the stronger that association becomes.

Technique 2 - Mental Coaching

This sports hypnosis technique refines and develops the principle of positive visualisation. It can be used to mentally rehearse your sports performance generally, or you can use it to correct persistent or recurring problems.

  1. As before, close your eyes, focus on your breathing, and deepen the sense of relaxation by saying the word "calm" to yourself and seeing the word "calm" in your mind's eye.
  2. Get a sense of watching yourself playing your game, from the outside, as if you were watching yourself on TV. Just get an overall sense of how you play. Mentally note any insights you get.
  3. Now rewind that mental movie, like a DVD, and let it run again. This time, use a more critical, analytical eye. Focus on the details of how you play. Mentally note any insights you get.
  4. Rewind that mental movie again, and let it run, this time very slowly. See yourself play in slow motion. Note any insights you get, then rewind again. This time as you see yourself play in slow motion, make any adjustments you need to make, according to the insights you've gained. You might need to correct your technique, your body language, or your overall pattern of play.
  5. When you're satisfied with the adjustments you've made, rewind for a final time, and this time step inside that mental movie to feel it from the inside. Feel how it is to play your game at your absolute best.
  6. Open your eyes and come back to the room when you're ready.

Technique 3 - Modelling Excellence

This sports hypnosis technique uses the power of your imagination to gain insights from your sporting heroes. It's extraordinary how effective this can be. If possible, make a thorough study of your favourite players before you do this exercise. Watch videos of them in action, switching between an overall appreciation of their general pattern of play, and a more analytical study of the details of their game.

  1. Close your eyes, focus on your breathing, and deepen relaxation by saying and seeing the word "calm" in your mind.
  2. Get a picture of your favourite player in your mind. Notice what it is about them that lets you know that they're a true sports star and a model of sporting excellence for you.
  3. Now step into that picture and feel what it's like to be your favourite player. Imagine seeing what they see, hearing what they hear, and feeling what they feel. What would it be like to play your particular sport as that player?
  4. Return to the room, bringing with you any insights from your experience. It can also be useful to spend a few moments imagining yourself into the role of your favourite player before you take the field. This is the sports hypnosis equivalent of method acting!

As with any hypnotic or self-hypnosis exercise, some of these sports hypnosis techniques will feel more comfortable than others. Experiment to find the techniques that suit you best, and have fun with them.