The mind and the body are linked in the same way different parts of a computer are linked. Your mind tells your body what movements to make and your body tells your mind what it is seeing, feeling etc.
The mind is the most powerful computer in the world and it can help your body to achieve amazing things. It can help show your body how to make rockets and go into space but for the purposes of sporting excellence and achievement it can help you to be the best you possibly can be. Just how good is this? Who knows! You will have to answer that one yourself. Hypnosis and applied sport psychology can help in many ways.
1. Goal setting Achievement and performance goals as well as states, eg confidence, motivation.
2. Mental Imagery How is it going to be when I achieve those states and goals?
3. Mental Flow
1. Goal Setting does not just involve setting goals or outcomes within the sporting arena. It also involves setting goals in life. It may be that solving relationship or personal difficulties is a priority.
What’s the point of asking an athlete to focus on winning a gold medal if their marriage is having difficulties or they are about to be declared bankrupt? You cannot take sport or any other area of life in isolation. Football coaches have learned that and many other sports coaches are learning it too.
It is important to have short term achievable goals in sport so that you can work towards them as a ‘reality’. Some people say long term ‘outcomes’ are not favourable as they can lead to disappointment.
Well, we can assure you that the vast majority of highly successful people who win gold medals, championship trophies etc have all done it a thousand times in their minds and in their dreams before they ever do it in reality.
The truth in sport psychology is that we don’t develop strategies from scratch and then teach them to athletes. The truth is that we look at what the truly successful sports stars are doing anyway. It is possible to look at any sporting great from the past and write an entire book on applied mental sporting techniques based on what they did naturally. Mental edge is often the difference between great and truly great.
This is not a new invention.
2. Mental Imagery involves seeing and experiencing success in your mind. You don’t just have to see it – some people are much better at feeling things. Imagine how it feels to run your fastest ever time! Imagine how it feels to have that gold medal placed around your neck!
Affirmations are useful at times, for instance you could repeat ‘everyday I am getting stronger and faster. I am the greatest’ This will improve your ‘self-talk’, but to truly change your internal belief system it is necessary to make use of mental imagery and rehearsal.
It improves your vision and your focus. You can think about someone who makes you angry and without them being in the room you can indeed feel the sensations of anger. In the same way if you rehearse success in your mind, you will start to feel successful. This is your way forwards.
Long term outcomes, i.e. mentally rehearsing the winning of an event or a peak performance, can only be risky if you work to a success/ failure model. Imagine if you could never fail – NO FAILURE, ONLY FEEDBACK.
This means you can mentally prepare to win a race or a match or to score a century, and if it doesn’t happen how you imagined, well then you haven’t failed you simply have feedback and information for what to do differently next time.
There is no failure – only feedback
You have nothing to fear but fear itself!
If you use mental imagery and rehearsal in your preparation and coaching, you are more likely to achieve positive personal development and performance management as well as motivation, self-confidence, self-esteem and a new and powerful personal belief system.
3 Mental Flow involves being ‘in the zone’, being engrossed in an event to an almost spiritual level. Have you ever know you were going to score a goal before you even made contact with the ball? Have you ever felt invincible as if it was your day and nothing could possibly go wrong? This state of performance is sometimes known as a peak experience.
Flow involves positive state management. In other words, getting into that championship state more often and just when you need to.