So, sports hypnosis, well what is it? Well, it's hypnosis for sports, to make you better at sports whether that be mixed martial arts, whether that be football, whether that be hockey, basketball, wrestling, whatever it may be. Now, Tiger Woods, I'm not sure if you're familiar with Tiger Woods. I'm sure you are, but in his autobiography, Tiger Woods talks about having a caddie. His actual caddie was a hypnotist, and his caddie, I believe, worked with him from about the age of 10 to about the age of 28 I do believe. And Tiger Woods credited his caddie for giving him a lot of the mental skills, the mental edge to help him get to the next level. And interesting about it is when Tiger Woods, whose career was starting to hit the shit so to speak, and he started to have all the problems with his wife and having sex and having affairs with porn stars, God bless him. It was round about the same time that he fired his caddie of many, many years which is very interesting.
Steve Collins, a famous Irish boxer who beat Nigel Benn and big Chris Eubanks and many others in the mid-'90s. I remember there being a big story that when he was fighting Chris Eubank, he was a famous, super middleweight British boxer, a very interesting character, a very charismatic, flamboyant character, a bit eccentric. And the front page news of the newspapers in England was Chris Eubank called Steve Collins a cheat because he's using a hypnotist. And I remember reading this as like a young teenager but like, "Wow. So, hypnotists could make...there were two boxers that were of the pretty much the same level, but if the hypnotist hypnotized one of them, he could give the other hypnotist the edge that he would be...he would not be allowed to be knocked out and he would knock out his opponent, and he would be impervious to pain and suffer that." And later I realized that's not quite how hypnosis worked, but I thought wasn't that interesting.
And I know of some hypnotists who claim to be working with NBA players in helping them with their game. So, hypnosis is amazing for many, many different things, but how does it make you a better sportsperson? Does that mean Luke that if I've never done a sport before and I'm hypnotized...I've never played tennis before but I have a session, an hour session with a hypnotist and he says, "Luke, you are going to be the best tennis player in the world. You're going to be better than John McEnroe and Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi and you're going to play them and you're going to beat them. And then I go out there and I play them with no skills, with not actually practicing this in the real world at all, not doing any of the nutritional ways to develop muscle. Am I going to beat them? No, I'm gonna get killed, but what it means is if you've already got the skills in that particular area and you are doing the activities day to day to get better whether it's hitting a ball in tennis, whether it's rolling on the mat for mixed martial arts, whether it's on the ice for hockey or on the field with football. Here you are actually practicing it, you're doing it but it's about that mental edge.
I'll tell you why I believe sports hypnosis is most powerful. It's when an athlete tries to hit a ball in say golf and misses it. It's when the boxer throws his best shots and his opponent is still standing in front of him. It's when the football player is exhausted and has nothing left but there's still 30 minutes on the clock. It's when the mixed martial artist is held up against the cage and he's fighting for dear life to stay up there and he realizes that there's another four minutes left on the clock before he gets a moments rest. I believe it's in that moment when it's two somewhat equally skilled athletes are out there. It's the one with the strongest mind who is the best and to define that a little bit more. What I mean by the strongest mind, is the person that does take that big shot but rather than, "Oh my God, I've been hit in the face and oh, that really hurt," straight away can snap back into with their game plan. It's the tennis player who has lost some points, is down some points but rather than going on that downward spiral, "Oh no, I've just missed the last two shots" and then getting angry about it and then taking it on the ball and missing the next shot or being anxious that they won't get the next shot and being a bit gun shy. It's like, "Okay, yeah, I missed that last ball. I missed that last shot. I missed that last punch, that last block" whatever it is, that last volley and then straight back into the game, straight back into executing their plan with the emotion taken out of it.
Because they say in sports often times, especially combat sports, but this is a metaphor that you can use for all kind of sports. If you can get your opponent to be angry or scared of you, then you've won. If you're two similarly equal opponents, two similarly equal teams, if you can make your opponent scared or angry and you're equally skilled, you can win because their emotions come out and it starts to cloud the athletic ability. Because when athletes are at their best, it's because they're often in a place called their flow state. And the flow state is when you're not five minutes in the past, you're not 20 minutes into the future, you're right there, and you're not thinking about things, you are just moving, you are just in the flow. And it's that time when you don't even think you're consciously thinking at all, it's just you're flowing, you're responding to the ball coming at you. You're responding to allowing that punch to go past your head and just passing it to one side, blocking it to one side. It's when you've got that ball and seemingly you're going around your opponent on the football field. It's when you're in that flow state where you're just there, where you're doing that thing that you're greater. You're not in the future, you're not in the past, you're right there in that very moment doing your skill set that you've drilled over and over again. And the reason you drill techniques, you drill formations, you drill punches, you drill your skills over and over again is so, when it comes to match day, when it comes to fight day, when it comes to game day, you don't need to think about it anymore because there's probably nothing else that someone's gonna give you on that last day an hour before your game, your fight, your match that you're going to be able to utilize out there anyways. You've either got it at that point or you don't got it. You just have to accept I've got it and go and play or fight your heart out in that particular time. So, flow state is very, very important for sports hypnosis and being able to take your emotions out of it.
Stay tuned next week for part 2.
Luke Michael Howard
Toronto and Ottawa Clinical Hypnotist