Recently I've been working with a number of sports professionals to achieve a variety of different outcomes. For some it has been to gain an increase in motivation, whereas others it has been to improve their confidence and overall performance.
Together, we've been experiencing some fantastic results and with the use of therapeutic and motivational techniques we've managed to attain some large gains in a relatively short amount of time.
In recent years the use of hypnotic and psychological techniques have become commonplace within the sporting industry and many professional athletes invest as much in their mental development as they do in their physical development.
However, I've been considering how the techniques I use with my sporting clients can be used to positively affect elements of anyone's life.
Anxiety and a lack of confidence can waste a lot of the sports person's energy and can negatively affect their performance and consequently their career. This can come from a bad experience such as a fall or injury or it may come from something more deep rooted for example, not feeling good enough or worthy of their place.
It is my job as a sports mind coach to gather information and find the causes that are associated with these feelings and to change their mindset so that they can perform to the best of their abilities, this can be carried out in a number of ways. One of the main ways I work with performance anxiety is to manage their state prior to their performance and create a peak state within them during their performance.
By managing the way they relax prior to performing they are able to conserve energy and enter the arena/ venue with a positive state of mind. Often competitions are won or lost way before you've stepped foot inside the ring, stepped onto the playing field or up to the plate. Learning to relax can help you to feel less anxious whilst boosting your confidence and techniques are not limited to a sporting setting. You can learn to apply techniques within your personal and professional life as well.
Below are some tips for managing your state and becoming more confident either within your personal or professional life:
Focus on your breathing
Practice breathing through your diaphragm. Whilst you are sitting or laying somewhere quiet you can focus taking in long, deep breaths. When breathing with the diaphragm you should notice a rise and fall within the stomach as opposed to the chest.
To practice this you can either have a cord around your chest or place a hand on your solar plexus to bring conscious awareness to your breathing.
Set up a safe place
Once you have found a rhythmic pattern to your breathing allow your mind to wander and think of a time or a place where you were most happy. This may be a family gathering, a time within the last few weeks or many years ago. This place could also be a beach, a forest or perhaps your favourite room in your own house.
Start to imagine and notice the sounds and sensations that go along with this place or time, noticing what you're able to smell, see, hear, touch and feel.
Really build up a picture to the point that it's almost as clear as the reality you see before you.
Anchor That Feeling
When you've built this image and feeling up in your mind anchor this state to a physical action, when working with sports clients I will anchor this to something that they will be doing when performing for example: Holding the reigns, squeezing a cue, etc. A technique that is widely used is to take your index finger and thumb of your right hand and squeeze them together whilst this image is clearly in your mind.
Continue to revivify your experience allowing the picture to become clearer in your mind each time and the feelings of relaxation to increase each time you anchor that state until it becomes so strong that you feel it surge through you the moment that anchor is tested.
Test your Anchor
Once you've carried out the above exercise a number of times test your anchor. To do this, press your finger and thumb together or do whatever you've chosen to do for your anchor and imagine that state returning even more strongly each time.
Practice, Practice, Practice
As often as you can in times where you are calm, or relaxed, practice this technique and intensify the anchor. There's a saying I learnt in magic that serves well which goes something like: 'Don't practice until perfect, practice until you can't get it wrong.' The more you practice building this state in those times of calm, the easier it'll become to access in times that are more stressful or challenging.
I implore you to practice the above technique and note the change in your own mindset or state. Please feel free to keep me updated on your progress.
Jason Simmons is a hypnotist, mind coach and mentalist and he has been performing for almost a decade.
Jason is the author of the forthcoming book: The Hypnosis Hand Book; A Spellbindingly Good Read
Jason Simmons is also a trainer, delivering hypnosis workshops around the UK.