Improve sports performance this summer by managing your mind
They say that “Golf is a game that is played on a five-inch course the distance between your ears.”
This can be said of most competitive sports. Both for professionals and weekend athletes there is a tendency to concentrate on the physical training in their sport, without thinking much about psychological training.
While preparing and conditioning the physical body is very important, the mental aspects are just as important as physical preparation.
Many of us are ‘hard wired to fail’ or to repeat the same errors over and over again. This can be because it has happened so often that it has become a (bad) habit. Or it can be because of a belief about our ability.
I had a client the other day who was telling me that he had done really well on the first nine holes at Riddell’s Bay Golf Course. And then, for no apparent reason, he totally messed up the back nine. He was frustrated and couldn’t understand it.
I asked him how many shots he usually took to get around the course. “100”, he replied. “So what would you have shot if you had carried on playing well?” I asked. “92” he replied. That’s the reason he messed up the last 9!
Let me explain this a bit more clearly: His belief is “I shoot 100”. That is what he transferred to his subconscious mind. The subconscious mind does whatever it thinks you want, and so it makes it come true (scoring 100) by messing things up on the back nine. Now, if you are able to change your belief and decide you can score 92, you can reprogramme yourself and end up with a better score!
Here is another example of the power of belief. Roger Bannister was the first man to run a mile in under four minutes in 1954. Within one year of Bannister breaking the four-minute mile many other athletes around the world smashed this apparently unbreakable time barrier. Do you think they all suddenly became fitter and stronger in their bodies in this short time period…? It is more likely that there was a ‘limiting belief’ that man was unable to run a mile in under four minutes. When this limiting belief was removed from the minds of athletes, they were able to access a different belief, and achieve the previously ‘impossible’.
Mental rehearsal is also crucial to success. There is a story about a golfer who was a prisoner of war for many years. He visualized playing his home course in his mind every day, and when he got out of prison and went back home, he played better than before. It might be apocryphal, but the message is a good one.
Mental rehearsal, sometimes called visualization, guided imagery or self-hypnosis, refers to specific techniques often used by hypnotherapists to help individuals visualize or mentally rehearse a desired event. It involves using all of the senses to create a positive imagined experience that actually feels real.
How to do Visualization
The first time you do visualization, it’s helpful to have a skilled facilitator walk you through the process. After you are comfortable with the technique, it’s easy to practice on your own.
· Sit in a comfortable place where you won’t be interrupted.
· Relax your body and take several long, slow breaths.
· Close your eyes and create a vivid and convincing image. This image can be one you’ve previously experienced, or one you simply desire.
· If you become distracted or find you are thinking about something else, simply acknowledge it, and let it go.
· Focus on your breathing if you lose the image.
· Maintain a positive attitude.
· Imagine the sights, sounds, tastes, feelings, and even smells of the experience. ‘Run the Movie’.
· Take note of as much detail of the scene as possible. What are you wearing, who is there, what are you hearing, how do you feel?
· You can imagine anything you want! So always imagine doing everything perfectly and Winning!
· If your imagery session is not going the way you want it to, simply open your eyes and start over with your breathing.
· Always end a visualization session with a positive image.
· Return gently to the present and hold onto the feeling of success.
Monica Dobbie is Certified Sports Hypnotherapist living in Bermuda. She helps individuals and teams to improve sports performance and develop a winner mentality.
She can be reached at 505 7531 email: email@example.com