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Sporting Mind Games

30 Mar

If you follow or play sport, you will have heard on numerous occasions that sport is all in the mind.

Now that spring is here and the summer is fast approaching, our summer sports take centre stage. Sports such as Tennis at Wimbledon, Cricket at Lords, and this year, the Olympics come to town. These are all sporting events that really show up mental strength or mental fragility. How many times at Wimbledon do we see the player with the most confidence or mental toughness winning through a long 5 set match? How many times do we see the batsman who keeps their concentration the best, go on to put together big scores for their cricket team? How many times do we see athletes visualising in their minds their success? S

So how much of sport is really played in the mind? And to what extent can we train our minds to do better at our chosen sport?

Jonathon Trott

Jonathon Trott is well known for doing his own thing, and not getting distracted

How much is in the mind?

The difference at the highest level in sport often comes down to making the right decisions at the right time. Everyone has the necessary skill, the difference is those decisions a sportsman makes under the stress of the situation. Those with the right mindset often make the right decisions based on the situation they find themselves in, those who aren’t quite as focused, or as mentally tough, start to make decisions that could have been better.

In stressful situations, Tennis players start to make rash decisions, they go for shots that simply they shouldn’t have gone for or and don’t have the confidence to play the shot they know they should have. The greats appear to keep making right decisions in these situations – and that is what can determine if they go on to win a Grand Slam like Wimbledon.

Cricket is an interesting sport, especially at Test level. Here you see individual competitions all the time between the batsman and the situation they find themselves in. Often commentators get a feeling for when a wicket will be lost, and this is usually due to the batsman being under some form of extreme pressure. Such as not scoring runs for a while, or needing to score runs quickly if they want to win. It is these situations that more often than not lead to the batsman then making a rash decision and effectively “giving their wicket away”.

So what can a sportsman do to strengthen their mind?

Hypnosis for the sporting mind

Hypnosis in sport is individually designed to meet the need of that athlete and their particular sport, and the situations they may find themselves in. Though hypnosis and techniques are often associated with elite athletes, the fact is these techniques work for any amateur sportsmen too.

Here is a list of some of the areas hypnosis can help a sportsman improve:

  • Increased concentration
  • Control internal dialogue
  • Decrease awareness of unimportant external stimuli
  • Enhance sensory awareness and muscle control
  • Control anxiety, anger and emotionality
  • Enhance motivation and enthusiasm
  • Increase energy levels
  • Improve feelings of invigoration and endurance
  • Enhance performance skill
  • Increase confidence and self efficacy
  • Control perception of time and focus on the present experience
  • Resolution of unconscious blocks or conflicts
  • Management of discomfort
  • Muscle memory
  • Deliver mental strength

Using hypnosis, performance can be improved by considering:

  • Pre-performance attitude
  • Performance attitude
  • Post performance attitude

Pre-performance attitude

This helps an athlete train hard, to work hard on their skills and to focus their energy on improvement. In addition, it can address big game nerves, anxieties and remove negative self fulfilling prophecies of failure.

Performance attitude

A good strong mental attitude while competiting helps an athlete focus; to get the maximum out of their skills; to put to effect all those hours of training; to block out any distractions and to help make the right decisions at the right time.

Post performance attitude

This is all about reflection and includes identifying what went right; areas you performed well in and areas to focus on. It is important to ensure that no matter the result, positives are always taken away from the competition and things learnt to help improve for next time.

Hypnosis approaches

A typical hypnotherapy approach is the inner game. This is all about mental practice and attitude, helping to mentally prepare and handle the pressures of competition. Using this approach, the athlete mentally visualises executing precise motor skills under pressure, at the same time, they visualise a physical experience in their bodies, which strengthens neural patterns. This approach is evident when you want a high jump competitor. You almost always see these athletes going through the motions of what they will do when attempting a jump. You can see them visualising their jump, visualising how that will feel and visualising success.

Direct suggestions to improve performance is an approach where the individual focuses on their best performance to date, accessing it in their mind and focusing on how they performed, and how it felt. The positives of the performance are emphasised. With direct suggestion, a positive state of mind / belief system is established. Athletes are also encouraged to describe in 3 words their best performance; these are then used to “anchor” the positive state so that the athlete can trigger this state as and when they need it.

Staying in the moment is a big thing for athletes, ensuring they focus directly on what’s at hand and block out all forms of distraction. This approach, “Suggestions for concentration” can be seen often when watching test cricket, especially players such as Jonathon Trott for England. He constantly goes through his routines and is unaware of any distractions around him; he uses his routines to stay in the moment and to “re-focus” for every ball he faces.

Keep in mind…

So a lot of sport really is played in the mind, and hypnosis can really help sporting performance. It can help with training, with muscle memory, mental attitude, visualization, concentration and promote feelings of confidence and endurance. Essentially hypnosis can help anyone improve their sporting performances.

Remember at the top levels of sport, the margins between success and failure are so small, and sporting hypnosis could well play the winning part.

Feel Good Music Terms and Conditions

8 Apr

Closing Date of the Competition – Midnight 12/05/2011
The Competition Promoter is College of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy
The winner will be announced on 16/05. The winner will be picked by an independent judge, out of all qualifying entrants
Entrants must post their competition entry on the Facebook page

 To qualify for entry:
 ·         All entrants must like the CCBH Facebook page, and be liking the
 page at the time of the Closing Date, and the time of the winner announcement

 ·         All entries must be original changes to the song verse/chorus

 The Winner will be posted on Facebook. CCBH will then contact the winner within 48 hours of the Draw Time and Date. A date for the one on one life coaching session will be arranged, and must be claimed within the next 3

All entries may be used for further publicity on the CCBH website, or other channels
No purchase is necessary
 No cash alternative is available
Those entering our Feel Good Music competition must be over 18
 Only one entry per facebook account/person can be considered
By entering the competition, entrants hereby agree to be bound by these rules as amended from time to time, and by any competition instructions.
Proof of submission or of posting of entries will not constitute proof of delivery and no responsibility will be accepted for lost,
corrupted, delayed or mislaid entries.
CCBH reserves the right to publish the names of the winner and the winning entry and all winners are required  to give their full co-operation in connection with publicity for the competition, their entry, the prize or otherwise.
CCBH reserves the right to terminate or change the deadline of the competition.

Feel Good Music

8 Apr

Fancy winning a one on one life coaching session, as well as a £50 Debenhams voucher? Then enter our “Feel Good Music” competition, and get thinking positively!

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy examines how unhealthy (negative) thoughts can affect our happiness and helps us change our attitude into healthy (positive) thoughts.  Unhealthy thoughts can be found everywhere, but a very common place for them is in song. So for our competition we want you to rewrite your favourite song, CBT style!

 How to enter the competition:

 First off, you need to “like” our Facebook page.

Now this is the fun part, all you have to do is “re-write” one of your favourite songs that contains lots of negative thoughts. What you need to do is put a positive spin on it, CBT style…Then upload it to our Facebook page, either in the form of a status update, or if you are really confident, upload a recording of you singing your new version. Don’t worry, you don’t need to re-write the complete song, just one verse or chorus.

 You will need to include your name, the name of the song and the original artist.

 Before you get writing, we have compiled some helpful hints and tips and provided our own example songs, so read on for a little while longer.

 What are healthy lyrics?

  • Based on things that you want, while accepting that it is possible that sometimes we don’t always get what we want. 
  • Accept that bad things happen without catastrosphising the badness e.g. it’s really bad that I didn’t get what I want but the world has not ended. 
  • Acknowledge that we experience difficulty and frustration whilst remaining resilient e.g. it’s very tough but I am still alive and breathing.
  • Separate the worth of the individual from that person’s desire.  e.g. if a relationship breaks down, I believe that I am worthwhile person with or without that partner.

 Spotting some unhealthy lyrics which you want to avoid / change (hint there):

  • Based on ‘MUST’, ‘HAVE TO’, ‘GOT TO’, and ‘NEED TO’.
  • Inconsistent with reality and don’t accept other alternatives
  • Catastrophise the bad situation and underestimate the person’s ability to cope with the hardship.
  • Links the person’s worth to the condition the person is insisting on e.g. I must have love, and if not I am nothing.

 One last pointer. It’s all about ME, the song needs to accept that we are largely responsible for all our own emotions. It is not someone else who or the situation that causes them.  E.g. if you break up with someone, believe that it’s bad to be without love, but you remain worthwhile in spite of it.

 Here’s two we did earlier:

 1. Mariah Carey, I cant live (if living is without you)

 Unhealthy original:

I can’t live
If living is without you
I can’t live
I can’t give anymore
Can’t live
If living is without you

can’t give,
I can’t give anymore

CBT style healthy version:

 I can live
If living is without you
I can live
I can give, I can give some more … even if now it feels like I can’t

I can live
If living is without you

I can give,
I can give somemore

 Toni Braxton: Unbreak My Heart

 Unhealthy original:

 Don’t leave me in all this pain
Don’t leave me out in the rain
Come back and bring back my smile
Come and take these tears away
I need your arms to hold me now
The night are so unkind
Bring back those nights when I held you beside me

 CBT style healthy version – not a number 1 we agree but you get the idea

 I’d like you not to leave me in this pain

I’d like you not to leave me out in the rain … but you did

I’d love it if you came back as I would smile again

Please come back, I would stop crying

I really want your arms around me to hold me now but I don’t need them

I feel so bad at night at the moment but I know it won’t feel like this for ever

I wish for those nights when I held you beside me but you buggered off

  OK, we will never make it in the music industry, but you might…Let’s see how you do, good luck…

You can find the T and Cs here