Can hypnosis really improve your running (or other sports performance)?

An interesting article recently published in Runner’s World magazine references some research undertaken at the University of Kent’s School of Sport and Exercise Science looking at whether psychological interventions, such as hypnosis, can enhance performance in endurance sports.  As part of the research the University conducted a review of published articles which looked at the effect of psychological interventions on the performance of endurance athletes. After looking at the best designed studies the researchers concluded that more often than not using such techniques do actually improve performance.  Techniques that were found to be beneficial included: goal-setting, hypnosis, imagery and self-talk. At the same time the researchers found that mental fatigue or losing focus during an event or training was detrimental to performance.

The lead researcher, in an e:mail to Runner’s World, said “I think the important thing is that learning to use a psychological strategy can have a beneficial and worthwhile effect on endurance SPORTS Croppedperformance,…. If a recreational runner is interested in improving their performance, it would be worthwhile for them to look into principles of goal setting and self-talk and imagery or visualization strategies.”

It is interesting that the methods noted in the study as being beneficial are very similar to the ones I use in my sports motivation and performance enhancement hypnotherapy sessions and while this study focused on only endurance sports I believe that the techniques mentioned can be applied to any sport or even simply motivating ourselves to undertake a basic exercise regime.  Now, I am not claiming that hypnosis or hypnotherapy is a replacement for either skill or training but I firmly believe that it can really help you get the most from what you have, or support you in overcoming negative motivation.  We all know that our minds are extremely powerful and I am sure that we all have experience of it talking our performance up or down. The problem, I have found, is that most of us seem to be better at talking ourselves down rather than up and this manifests itself as:

  • Worrying about old injuries to the point that they reoccur
  • Dwelling on a poor performance to the point that it adversely affects future performance
  • Fretting so much about technique issue that we freeze during competition
  • Feeling tired and demotivated and using this as an excuse to stay in bed rather than train or go to the gym.

Now some people are brilliant at talking themselves up all the time and we call these people champions. For the rest of us we sometimes need support, a mental coach if you like, to help improve our self-image turning a “can’t do” belief into a “can do” attitude.  This is where I can help, working with you and your coach if you want, in a structured programme to improve your performance or overcome your motivational or technique issues.

Like your training, hypnosis is more effective if it occurs regularly, therefore in all my programmes I include personalised intra-session reinforcement affirmations, tailored motivation CDs or MP3s where appropriate, combined with training in self-hypnosis techniques.  If you think that you would benefit from hypnotherapy to help improve your performance or would just like some more information, then please contact me at info@richardaveryhypnotherapy.com to arrange a chat.

Finally, for those of you who want to read the whole thing full details of the Runner’s World article can be found at: http://www.runnersworld.com/sports-psychology/you-can-think-your-way-to-faster-times

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