Using things like anchor which come from NLP which...originally did not come from NLP at all, they came from Pavlov's work anchoring good emotional state. So, if you are in the middle of your game, your match, your fight and you are going into a non-resourceful state, there's a quick movement you can do of your body that stimulates a more positive response, a more positive emotional state, even if that's neutrality to get you back in the game. It can be doing a universal okay sign of linking, touching your tip of your index finger and your thumb together and linking that to just feeling a time when you were totally successful in multiple times, building that as a resource anchor. So, when you link that enough, thinking that thought, getting that feeling, making that unique touch, for example again index finger to the tip of your thumb, it creates an anchor. So, in the middle of your game, your fight, your sport, you fire that off and a conditional response comes in and you start to feel that emotion even though a moment ago you may have been in a unresourceful emotion.
So, sports hypnosis is very, very powerful, very, very vital. It never takes the place of skills. It never takes the place of drilling the techniques you need to learn. Of course, we've already addressed that, but if it's two equal teams, two equal athletes, the one that has that mental game that's gonna win. It's that one that can keep them in that flow state in that moment that's probably gonna win if they're equal. It's the one that even though they missed that shot, even though they missed that punch, even though they missed that goal, they can immediately let that go and continue to use their game plan and put that into practice. Also breath, often times different emotions will affect our breath. If we're anxious, we tense up a little bit higher in the chest. When we're more relaxed, when we're more sleepy, when we're more chilling, we might breathe more from our lower stomach, but breath is so important as well.
And actually visualization, visualization whether you want to call it meditation, whatever you wanna call it, self-hypnosis or visualization, don't give it a name at all really, although there is a name but you kind of know what I mean. There's not a whole bunch of people apart from somebody making a whole bunch of money from visualization and calling it visualization and saying they created it, but there are people that say they created other things and make a shit load of money like law of attraction. But that's another topic for another day. But, visualizing, visualizing what you want, not what you don't want. So, if you visualize what you don't want, you end up attracting more of that into your life, law of attraction, if you believe in such a thing. But, when you start...they've done scientific studies that people that have visualized what they want over and over again and made it as vivid as real as is possible, they've seen it, in turn, they've heard it inside and they felt it. They've used all their submodalities over and over again. A lot of athletes will tell you, "I saw myself winning the Stanley cup thousands of thousands of times. I saw myself winning the UFC title hundreds of thousands of times before I do it. I saw myself breaking the 40-meter sprint thousands of thousands of times" and this was just...my unconscious mind already knew. Because what happens is your unconscious mind...some people call it the subconscious, some people call it reptile mind, some people call it the monkey mind, some people call it the five-year-old inside, it's all the same thing in my metaphor. Your unconscious mind does not know the difference between something which is real and something that is vividly imagined. It shoots off the same hormonal responses and neurochemistry in the brain. An example of this is you're watching a movie, a horror movie in the comfort and safety of your own home and, you know, the monster jumps out and then you jump out and you get scared even though you know it's not real because it's on a flat-screen TV. It's not even 3D you cheap bastard, you know it is not real yet you still have that reaction because you're unconscious and also your middle part of your brain is responsible for your emotions does not know the difference between something which is real and something which is vividly imagined.
So, if you vividly imagine what you don't want, guess what? You have a chemical reaction to it in your body, so you may as well get a chemical reaction for imagining things that you do want because you're more inclined to code that more into your neurology. So, visualize what you want, visualization in sport, in whatever you do is very, very powerful. I remember as a youngster I had a whole bunch of goals that I wanted, and I wrote them all on my wall, all right, that's another part of self-hypnosis and it's not just self-hypnosis. I put my goals on my wall, and I visualized what I wanted, and this was like back 20 years ago and about 10 years, 10, 11 years later, I'd found some of the papers and specifically there was a person I wanted to create, a specific gal if you will. It sounds a bit like weird science. I wanted to attract into my life with a certain name, with a certain look even down to the tattoos that I wanted her to have and I completely forgot about that. And I was dating this girl for a while, for a few years and I remember finding these sheets. I'm like, "Shit, I completely forgot about this," but I dug them up. It has the name, it has the same type of tattoos, same kind of shape, from the same kind of country with the same type of hobbies and it was the same type of look, and I completely forgot about it, but my unconscious didn't forget about it and seeing it every day or writing it on a wall, didn't think about it.
So, now the part of sports hypnosis, which is not just sports hypnosis, it can be a wider field but I'm gonna throw it in there anyways as a bonus, is writing down what you want in your sports hypnosis or that you want to win all your games this year or you want to win 50% more of your games, your matches, your fights this year, that you want to be faster at your 40 meter sprint by point zero seconds. Whether you want to drop five pounds of fat, whether you want to bicep curl an extra 20 pounds, write this shit down in a place that you get to see every single day. So, it's more pings, it's more pings. It might just be passively. I just saw this stuff passively written on my wall. I wasn't reading it out every day but those little pings conscious, unconscious pings each day made it more inclined to happen.
Sports hypnosis is very, very powerful. Again, to summarize, you got to play, you got to do the drills to get the skills. So, if you're in tennis, you've got to hit the ball, you got to have games. If it's MMA, you've got to roll in the cage, roll on the mat. If it's football or hockey or basketball, you got to be on your field, you got to be doing that practice absolutely and nothing beats that. However, slight caveat to that is I can't remember the exact study so I may slightly misquote this so please forgive me. Remember send your hate mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. But, they did a study and the study was they took a group of basketball players and they practiced every day for 30 minutes I think every day, and they took a bunch of people that were basketball players but couldn't play for one month and they asked them for 20 minutes a day just simply visualizing hitting the three points, hitting the two-point shots. And then when the 30 days or so was up, they came in and they played one another, and what happened was the team that had just visualized I believe ended up winning or ended up getting a higher skill level than the team that had just practiced every day. Actually, I'm gonna sidestep, it was three teams. There was one group of people that just visualized. There was one group that just played and there was one group that played and visualized, and the group that played and visualized killed the other two teams. So, it just shows you the power of combining the mental aspect with the physical aspect, how powerful it can be.
We know other athletes have been using this for many years, one's that I've already mentioned that come to mind, Tiger Woods, famous golfer, Steve Collins, the famous super middleweight boxing champion of Ireland, NBA players. Evander Holyfield, very famous legendary boxer talking about self-hypnosis and many, many other tremendous athletes like Chuck Liddell, former UFC legendary, UFC light heavyweight champion, would work with Tony Robbins, and I know Tony Robbins calls it something else, but we know what it truly is when you take away the marketing machine behind it. It is very, very powerful. It's the next level, and often times when athletes do get to that level, they realize to get that edge, it's not just about getting another physical skill because we're pretty much maxed out on physical skill. But we've got to get our mind in the game, and that's when they'll hire a sports hypnotist, who will come in there and will help them to work through that using skills and goals, visualization, time distortion. They did a study with...I believe Richard Bandler talks about it in "Time to Change" about hypnotizing major league baseball MLB players in America. And when he would work with them, he would distort time and he would make the ball the actual, what do you call it? It's the baseball. They made the baseball bat the size of a big beach ball or a Swiss ball but you'll see it at the gym and it would be half the time. So, when it would be coming at them in practice, in their minds, in their unconscious, it was the size of a Swiss ball or a huge beach ball and it would be coming at half the time. Oh, and their racket was twice the size so they would hit it every time, and the success went through the roof.
In Tony Robbin's book I believe it's "Unlimited Power" or "Awaken the Giant Within," he talks about a study with NLP in the late '70s, early '80s where they went out and they trained a bunch of markspeople, marksman, markswoman out there and they modeled their behavior to shoot guns. They demystified it, they decoded it and learned to use those same strategies with new recruits and the skill level or the pass rate of the marksman score went up expeditiously. Tony Robbins likes to take credit for it, and then Richard Banner [SP] I think and John Grenell [SP] like to take credit for it as well. So, I don't know if they were all together or independently did it, but it seemed that there was a study, there was a modeling of markspeople round about that time in...somebody in the hypnosis or neuro-linguistic programming community. But it just goes to show that skills in sports hypnosis, and I'm going to put it under that umbrella, are very effective and help to get you that new edge.
So, to give you summarization, sports hypnosis is great for helping you to get into that flow state. If you do miss a shot, you do miss a punch, you do miss a play, you can pull yourself completely out of that negative emotion and get back into your game plan. It's also good for creating anchors in the middle of the game to just get you back into that peak state of how you need to be to perform and even if that peak state is being somewhat neutral allowing you to get out of your own way, giving you little hack, little things to do for your breathing and your body to enable you to play your best game, fight your best fight, have your best match when you're out there. Because remember folks when there's two equal athletes of equal physical skills, it's the one whose mental game is at a higher level whose most likely gonna dominate and most likely going to win.
Luke Michael Howard
Toronto and Ottawa Clinical Hypnotist