Professional Athletes Using Hypnosis to Enhance Mental Toughness and Peak Performance

By Dr. Jack Singer

Jay Hieron, IFL and UST veteran, #2 in the world in the International Fight League welterweight division and a part of Randy Couture Xtreme Couture MMA in Las Vegas and a proud client of Dr. Jack Singer. As they get older and put more mileage on their bodies, proactive thinking professional athletes look for an edge. Much of the training and coaching that professional athletes receive works on the logical brain, the left brain. Game plans, strategies, knowing what to do in a specific situation all fire up the left brain. Frequently, the right brain is ignored. Balance, music, emotions, visualization and self-hypnosis all involve the right brain. The smart athlete practices skills that tap into both the left and right brains.

I receive calls weekly from professional athletes who recognize that their bodies will not always be able to support the wear and tear and therefore, they would like to learn mental skills to compensate.  There are many techniques that Certified Sport Psychologists use to help such athletes, but by far the most powerful technique in my arsenal is Hypnotic Sport Psychology.

Those Sport Psychologists who teach hypnosis and self-hypnosis to athletes help them with such skills as intensity, focus, consistency, accelerated sports healing,  concentration and anxiety and anger control. Moreover, hypnosis can be used with teams to enhance team dynamics, intra-team communications, mutual goal setting and intra-team cohesion.

A favorite technique that I use with huge success I call the hypnotic mental toughness game plan. I use this technique with athletes whose sport involves going up against an opponent(s), such as football, basketball, boxing, motor sports, tennis, soccer, wrestling, hockey, etc.

I ask the athlete to describe in detail everything he/she knows about her/his opponent. For example, for an NFL football player, I want to know what specific techniques and moves the opponent has used in the past against my athlete. Accordingly, what specific techniques and moves has my athlete used with success against him?

For a tennis player, I want to know how the opponent has won games from my athlete in the past, what she/he does in certain game situations (such as moving toward the net), and what strategies have worked for my athlete against this specific opponent (even if only a few games were won against him/her).

The same data that would be obtained in breaking down film is very valuable for me (utilizing the athlete’s specific language) in designing a hypnotic program aimed at overcoming the opponent when they next meet.

This hypnotic technique goes well beyond “visualization” that is often taught to athletes. While under hypnosis, the athlete is not only visualizing success in his next game, but he is planting optimistic seeds in the beautiful garden of his subconscious mind that are each related to specific moves and strategies that are designed to work against a specific opponent, whom he can visualize defeating.

So, with the athlete’s help, we design a mental toughness game plan each week and (if the athlete is not local) I FedEx a CD series of that game plan each week for the athlete to master. This certainly gives the pro athlete an edge and I refer to it as the athlete’s “unfair advantage!”

Obviously, these techniques are not simply reserved for professional athletes, but the use of game films, for example, to design my game plans are harder to come by with junior athletes. In such cases I rely on the athlete and coaches to give me the information I need.

Jack N. Singer, Ph.D.
Certified and Licensed Sport and Clinical Psychologist
Diplomate, National Institute of Sports Professionals, Division of Psychologists
Diplomate, American Academy of Behavioral Medicine
Certified Hypnotherapist, American Academy of Clinical Hypnosis

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(1) comment

Visualize April 16, 2010

Dr. Singer, I really like what you share here, I am a professional athlete as well and I am constantly searching for skills to develop to help me gain an edge. I really believe that when all things are equal the mentally tough will prevail. Thanks for your comments.

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