Improving your athletic ability with hypnotherapy

Athletic prowess and ability are two things many of us aspire to accomplish in our lifetime. With such a great focus on our health and wellbeing, it is no wonder that the sporting community is thriving. Our roads are busy with cyclists, our pavements are being pounded by runners and our watercourses are becoming mastered by swimmers, paddleboards and surfers alike. As a nation, we are getting fitter. And for many of us, the importance of exercise was paramount during lockdown, with the links to mental health becoming unquestionable. 

The wealth of sports on offer to us these days is vast and there are always new ways to challenge our bodies and expand our capabilities. No longer is sport reserved for those of a certain disposition, income or fitness. But when we want to master something and truly excel at it, there are a number of factors that come into play. Whether you are training for a triathlon, embarking on your first 5k run or playing for the local cricket team, we all want to be at our best. Some of us may have modest expectations for ourselves; just completing the challenge is enough. But, for others, we are aiming higher, wanting to hone our skills, improve our abilities and ultimately, win! 

And there should be no shame attached with the determination and drive to beat others. While British culture may be steering more towards an ‘It’s the taking part that counts’ kind of attitude, a true sportsperson is driven by the desire to be the very best they can be, and we need this in our sporting community. We cannot expect to win World Cups, bring home Olympic gold medals or be number one at our game if we do not allow our sportsmen and women to be driven, confident and determined.

I really think a champion is defined not by their wins but by how they can recover when they fall.

– Serena Williams

While you may not be competing professionally, being competitive and focused should be encouraged. So, with a fire in your soul, you can push your body and train it to become an expert in the field you wish to compete. You can dedicate your time and energy to enhancing your performance. Your body may be ready for success, your mind also needs to take on a winning attitude. 

Muhammed Ali was once quoted saying: “Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside of them; a desire, a dream, a vision.”

Studies have shown that believing you are going to be successful in your game, competition or race dramatically increases your chances of actually being successful. This goes beyond just hoping for the best. This is a deep-rooted, unquestionable faith in yourself, your body and your ability. This may seem egocentric, but it’s not. Anyone knows that hard work and training has to be put in to succeed, but there are also mental preparations that need to be undertaken, ones that increase the likelihood of becoming a champion.

When Michael Jordan switched from being an internationally renowned basketball player to a baseball player, he did not assume he would naturally succeed. He worked hard, trained relentlessly and success did follow. He will always be known as the face of the NBA for two decades, but he was accomplished in his new sport beyond what most of us could achieve and this was down to the sweat and toil he put in, both to his physical skill set, as well as his mental athleticism.

Hypnotherapy for mindset and motivation

This is where hypnotherapy can be pivotal to your achievement. It can channel your mind to project success. This, in turn, helps your body to experience the sensations associated with hitting that target. Many do not realise that muscle memory can be improved through mental practise as well as physical. So, the mental preparation you do can directly impact your physical prowess.

Beyond this, it can enhance your attitudes, convictions, thought processes and incentives. Projecting your achievements can enable them to become reality. This may be increasing your agility, improving your aim or maximising your strength. Perhaps you wish to develop your skills in order to anticipate the opposition’s moves and prepare your responses. Whatever your goal is, hypnotherapy can help you mentally prepare, enabling you to physically succeed.

Putting yourself first

Simone Biles recently withdrew from her Olympic campaign in order to preserve her mental health. Here we see the power of the mind influencing matter. She has been commended for having the bravery to publicly acknowledge that she needed to stop and nurture something other than her physical strength and agility. There is no doubt that she has had the best care and preparation the sporting community can offer, but she is under an exceptional amount of pressure. Not only from her fans and coach, but also from herself. Currently, her mind is not in the right place and she acknowledges this will directly impact her body’s ability. If she cannot trust her body to make that perfect landing, or pivot to the exact degree necessary, then she will feel unsafe. Yes, she is outstanding in her field but right now, Biles’ mind is hindering her body and it is only right that she gives herself time to do some self-care.

While most of us are not aiming for the lofty heights of her athletic success, it is important to note that there are two sides to mental preparedness. Not only do we need to focus on the successes, achievements and drive, but we also need to overcome the hurdles, anxieties and whispers of doubt. Hypnotherapy can assist by addressing any past experiences that may be informing your subconscious to question your ability and hold you back.

A humiliating loss in your formative years can leave an imprint on your subconscious and lead to underlying question marks around your ability. It takes a lot to achieve success, but it often takes more to overcome failure. Andy Murray is renowned for his skill at overcoming adversity. He tirelessly fought for years before winning his first major trophy in 2012 at the US Open. Repeatedly losing in the run-up to this success was a huge obstacle for him to keep battling. Even the pros have nagging seeds of doubt that they have to tackle and overcome. 

All in all, you have the ability to turn your hand to any sport you can physically access. Whether you wish to embark on open water swimming, take part in your first charity run or become a successful golfer, you have the capacity to achieve it. There’s even a skateboarding group specifically for the ‘too old’ who meet in Hyde Park! 

You can achieve so much when you set your mind to it but it needs to be trained alongside your body. As Michael Jordan said as he turned his hand to a new professional sport, “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”

In this video, we speak to Sophie Parker, a cognitive hypnotherapist and coach, about all things motivation, self-confidence and mindset.

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Written by Jessica Chapman
Jessica Chapman is a therapist and teacher with a passion for the outdoors and being creative. She enjoys assisting others in making positive changes to their lives alongside working on her own aspirations.
Written by Jessica Chapman
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