Athletic Performance

You Can Reach Your Personal Best

Olympic athletes use self-hypnosis to help them achieve top performance. United States teams and those of other nations recognize that the power of mental rehearsal is equally as important as physical practice. Russian teams are taught mental conditioning from the outset of training.

For the average person, hypnotherapy cannot turn a golfing duffer into an international champion. Factors, skills and abilities other than mental are involved. But hypnosis can be used to enable a player to achieve his or her personal best!

Time magazine reported, in a cover story on the 1984 Olympics, that on the night before the finals in women’s gymnastics Mary Lou Retton, then age 16, lay in bed at Olympic Village mentally rehearsing her performance ritual. She had done the same on hundreds of previous nights, visualizing herself performing all her routines perfectly-imaging in her mind all the moves and rehearsing them again and again. The result, of course, was a performance, of perfection, presented with charm, poise and confidence, culminating in a gold medal.

“What the mind can conceive, the body can achieve!” Proof of that statement has been provided countless times. Mary Lou pictured a perfect performance in her mind. Her body produced it. the same capability is available to any sports enthusiast. If the skills and coordination abilities do not equal Olympic levels, they can carry the player to the heights of personal best, providing new levels of achievement and satisfaction.

To train the body to the limits of its capabilities without simultaneously training the mind is to invite, at best, mediocrity. Sports psychologists have claimed that for Olympic teams 80 percent of an athlete’s performance is in the mind. This belief has been echoed by championship players in virtually every form of competition.


Mental rehearsal, also termed visualization, can create and reaffirm the confidence necessary to achieve top performance. The picture visualized in the mind can convince the subconscious that achievement is possible. The automatic nervous system performs in exactly the same manner followed during a physical rehearsal. Neuromuscular coordination improves. What your mind can conceive, you can achieve. If you can think it and see it in your mind, you can do it!

What can be accomplished through the powers of the mind? Perhaps most important is the development of positive attitudes. Negative thoughts pertaining to performance skills can be changed or eliminated. Enjoyment of the sport will be enhanced to a major degree as skills improve the point where intermittent incidents of poor performance no longer arouse irritation, anger, discouragement or detrimental emotional reaction Concentration, coordination, technique all can improve as well as awareness of proper from and posture.

Sports enthusiasts face the same stumbling blocks that people have to deal with in other areas of life-business, personal relationships, achievement achievable and step by step, so that both success and completion are experienced.

Concentration is vitally important, and sometimes difficult to develop. Hypnotherapy has long been an effective means of improving concentration capabilities. Distractions must be eliminated. Post-hypnotic cues may prove useful in stimulating both concentration and specific skills. Visualization, not just in mental rehearsing, but at the moment of performance can produce dramatic results.

Finally, mental rehearsal is the ultimate key to superlative performance. It can prove more productive than physical practice. Imagery is not merely visual in nature; it can include all the senses. In a diving competition, the form of the dive is visual; the smell of the chlorine water is olfactory; the wetness of the entry is sensory, the cheers of the crowd are auditory. Perfection requires the use of all senses.