The increased stress of competitions can cause athletes to react both physically and mentally in a manner that can

negatively affect their performance abilities. They may become tense, their heart rates race, they break into a cold sweat, they worry about the outcome of the competition, they find it hard to concentrate on the task in hand. This has led coaches to take an increasing interest in the field of sport psychology and in particular in the area of competitive anxiety. That interest has focused on techniques that athletes can use in the competitive situation to maintain control and optimise their performance. Once learned, these techniques allow the athlete to relax and to focus his/her attention in a positive manner on the task of preparing for and participating in competition. Psychology is another weapon in the athlete's armoury in gaining the winning edge.

The 4C's
Concentration, confidence, control and commitment (the 4C's) are generally considered the main mental qualities that are important for successful performance in most sports.
y y y y

Concentration - ability to maintain focus Confidence - believe in one's abilities Control - ability to maintain emotional control regardless of distraction Commitment - ability to continue working to agreed goals

The techniques of relaxation, centering and mental imagery can assist an athlete to achieve the 4C's.

Concentration
This is the mental quality to focus on the task in hand. If the athlete lacks concentration then their athletic abilities will not be effectively or efficiently applied to the task. Research has identified the following types of attention focus:
y y

Broad Narrow continuum - the athlete focuses on a large or small number of stimuli Internal External continuum - the athlete focuses on internal stimuli (feelings) or external stimuli (ball)

The demand for concentration varies with the sport:
y y y

Sustained concentration - distance running, cycling, tennis, squash Short bursts of concentration - cricket, golf, shooting, athletic field events Intense concentration - sprinting events, bobsleigh, skiing

Common distractions are: anxiety, mistakes, fatigue, weather, public announcements, coach, manager, opponent, negative thoughts etc.

Strategies to improve concentration are very personal. One way to maintain focus is to set process goals for each session or competition. The athlete will have an overall goal for which the athlete will identify a number of process goals that help focus on specific aspects of the task. For each of these goals the athlete can use a trigger word (a word which instantly refocuses the athlete's concentration to the goal) e.g. sprinting technique requires the athlete to focus on being tall, relaxed, smooth and to drive with the elbows - trigger word could be "technique" Athletes will develop a routine for competition that may include the night before, the morning, pre competition, competition and post competition routines. If these routines are appropriately structured then they can prove a useful aid to concentration.

Confidence
Confidence results from the comparison an athlete makes between the goal and their ability. The athlete will have self-confidence if they believe they can achieve their goal. (Comes back to a quote of mine - "You only achieve what you believe"). When an athlete has self confidence they will tend to: persevere even when things are not going to plan, show enthusiasm, be positive in their approach and take their share of the responsibility in success and fail. To improve their self confidence, an athlete can use mental imagery to:
y y

visualise previous good performance to remind them of the look and feel imagine various scenarios and how they will cope with them

Good goal setting (challenging yet realistic) can bring feelings of success. If athletes can see that they are achieving their short term goals and moving towards their long term goals then confidence grows. Confidence is a positive state of mind and a belief that you can meet the challenge ahead - a feeling of being in control. It is not the situation that directly affects confidence; thoughts, assumptions and expectations can build or destroy confidence. High self confidence
y y y y

Thoughts - positive thoughts of success Feelings - excited, anticipation, calm, elation, prepared Focus - on self, on the task Behaviour - give maximum effort and commitment, willing to take chances, positive reaction to set backs, open to learning, take responsibility for outcomes

Low self confidence
y y

Thoughts - negative, defeat or failure, doubt Feelings - tense, dread, fear. not wanting to take part

y y

Focus - on others, on less relevant factors (coach, umpire, conditions) Behaviour - lack of effort, likely to give up, unwilling to take risks (rather play safe), blame others or conditions for outcome

Control
Identifying when an athlete feels a particular emotion and understanding the reason for the feelings is an important stage of helping an athlete gain emotional control. An athlete's ability to maintain control of their emotions in the face of adversity and remain positive is essential to successful performance. Two emotions that are often associated with poor performance are anxiety and anger. Anxiety comes in two forms - Physical (butterflies, sweating, nausea, needing the toilet) and Mental (worry, negative thoughts, confusion, lack of concentration). Relaxation is a technique that can be used to reduce anxiety. When an athlete becomes angry, the cause of the anger often becomes the focus of attention. This then leads to a lack of concentration on the task, performance deteriorates and confidence in ability is lost which fuels the anger - a slippery slope to failure.

Commitment
Sports performance depends on the athlete being fully committed to numerous goals over many years. In competition with these goals the athlete will have many aspects of daily life to manage. The many competing interests and commitments include work, studies, family/partner, friends, social life and other hobbies/sports Within the athlete's sport, commitment can be undermined by:
y y y y y y y y y

a perceived lack of progress or improvement not being sufficiently involved in developing the training program not understanding the objectives of the training program injury lack of enjoyment anxiety about performance - competition becoming bored coach athlete not working as a team lack of commitment by other athletes

Setting goals with the athlete will raise their feelings of value, give them joint ownership of the goals and therefore become more committed to achieving them. All goals should be SMARTER. Many people (coach, medical support team, manager, friends, etc) can contribute to an athlete's levels of commitment with appropriate levels of support and positive feedback, especially during times of injury, illness and poor performance.

Successful emotional states
The following are emotional states experienced with successful performance:
y y y y

Happy - felt that this was my opportunity to demonstrate an excellent performance. Felt I could beat anybody. Calm and nervous - Felt nervous but really at ease with these feelings. I accepted and expected to be nervous but felt ready to start. Anxious but excited - Felt so ready to compete but a little nervous. Nerves and excitement come together Confident - I remembered all the successful training sessions and previous best performances

Psychology Skills Training
Training for the athlete should aim to improve their mental skills, such as self-confidence, motivation, the ability to relax under great pressure, and the ability to concentrate and usually has three phases:
y y y

Education phase, during which athletes learn about the importance of psychological skills and how they affect performance Acquisition phase, during which athletes learn about the strategies and techniques to improve the specific psychological skills that they require Practice phase, during which athletes develop their psychological skills through repeated practice, simulations, and actual competition.

Competitive Anxiety
Competition can cause athletes to react both physically (somatic) and mentally (cognitive) in a manner which can negatively affect their performance abilities. Stress, arousal and anxiety are terms used to describe this condition. The major problem in competition is letting your mind work against you rather than for you. You must accept anxiety symptoms as part and parcel of the competition experience; only then will anxiety begin to facilitate your performance.

Anxiety - Performance Relationship Theory
Drive Theory

According to the Drive Theory [Clark Hull 1943] if an athlete is appropriately skilled then it will help them to perform well if their drive to compete is aroused - they are "psyched up".

y y Anxiety states (A-state) is our response to a particular situation (i. 1990] is based on the distinction between cognitive anxiety and somatic anxiety.. 1908] that predicts a relationship between arousal and performance approximates to an inverted U shape. The theory makes a series of predictions: y y y There will be a negative but linear relationship between cognitive anxiety and performance There will be an inverted U relationship between somatic anxiety and performance Somatic anxiety should decline once performance begins but cognitive anxiety may remain high if confidence is low Catastrophe Theory Catastrophe Theory [Hardy & Fazey 1987] suggests that: y y y stress and anxiety will influence performance each athlete will respond in a unique way to competitive anxiety performance will be effected in a unique way which may be difficult to predict using general rules Optimum Arousal Theory According to the Optimum Arousal Theory [Yuri Hanin] each athlete will perform at their best if their level of arousal or competitive anxiety falls within their optimum functioning zone. Multi-dimensional Anxiety Theory Multi-dimensional Anxiety Theory [Martens et al. Marten recognised that any measure of sport anxiety must take into consideration cognitive anxiety (negative thoughts. sky diving) Anxiety traits (A-trait) are the characteristics of our personality. worry) and . The theory is that as arousal is increased then performance improves but only up to a certain point (top of the inverted U). How do you measure Anxiety? A range of psychometric tests or sport anxiety questionnaires (SAQ) have been used by sports psychologists to understand and measure this condition. The challenge for the coach is to determine the athlete's zone and identify the techniques that will place the athlete in this zone prior to competition.e.Inverted-U hypothesis An alternative approach to Drive Theory is known as the Inverted-U hypothesis [Yerkes and Dodson. If the athlete's arousal is increased beyond this point then performance diminishes. In 1966 Charles Spielberger argued that it was necessary to make a distinction between momentary states and more permanent traits. our general anxiety level Marten developed anxiety traits (A-trait) questionnaires that were tailored specially to sport known as the Sport Competition Anxiety Test (SCAT).

Burton. R. The Development of the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-2 (CSAI-2)] Symptoms of Anxiety Anxiety can be recognised on three levels: y y y Cognitive . Vealey.somatic anxiety (physiological response). D. & Smith. .by patterns of behaviour Somatic Increased blood pressure Pounding heart Increased respiration rate Sweating Clammy hands and feet Butterflies in the stomach Adrenaline surge Dry mouth Need to urinate Muscular tension Tightness in neck and shoulders Trembling Incessant talking Blushing Pacing up and down Distorted vision Twitching Yawning Voice distortion Nausea Vomiting Diarrhoea Loss of appetite Sleeplessness Loss of libido Behavioural Biting fingernails Lethargic movements Inhibited posture Playing safe Going through the motions Introversion Uncharacteristic displays of extroversion Fidgeting Avoidance of eye contact Covering face with hand Cognitive Indecision Sense of confusion Feeling heavy Negative thoughts Poor concentration Irritability Fear Forgetfulness Loss of confidence Images of failure Defeatist self-talk Feeling rushed Feeling weak Constant dissatisfaction Unable to take instructions Thoughts of avoidance How can we control Anxiety? As we can see anxiety includes state and trait dimensions both of which can show themselves as cognitive and somatic symptoms. R.by particular thought process Somatic . (1990).by physical response Behavioural . An athlete with high anxiety trait (A-trait) is likely to be more anxious in stressful situations.. D. L. [Martens.. Bump. To help the athlete control competitive anxiety somatic techniques (relaxation) and cognitive techniques (mental imagery) can be used. The Competitive State Anxiety Inventory or CSAI-2 takes into account the difference between A-state and A-trait and distinguishes between cognitive and somatic anxiety.

You should inhale slowly. What can mental imagery be used for? Mental Imagery can be used: . but not extinguishing. easy. When an athlete is in a fully relaxed state. etc. smooth. he/she is particularly receptive to mental imagery. The images should have the athlete performing these items very well and successfully. Peak Performance Issue 243] Benson's relaxation response Benson's technique is a form of meditation that can be used to attain quite a deep sense of relaxation and can be ideal for staying calm in between rounds of a competition. float. The next stage is then to learn how to develop and apply mental imagery skills. feel.do not concern yourself with how the process is going 7. They should see themselves enjoying the activity and feeling satisfied with their performance. as they would like to perform in real life. and exhale gently through your mouth as though flickering.) 3. Breathe smoothly and naturally. deeply and evenly through your nose. Continue this for 10 to 15 minutes as required.The five breath technique This exercise can be performed while you are standing up. Be passive so that if other thoughts enter your mind. lying down or sitting upright. and each time you breathe out say the word 'relax' in your mind's ear [Reference: Dr Karageorghis. 'Oh well' and calmly return to the focus word . They should attempt to enter fully into the image with all their senses. the flame of a candle: y y y y y y Take a deep breath and allow your face and neck to relax as you breathe out Take a second deep breath and allow your shoulders and arms to relax as you breathe out Take a third deep breath and allow your chest. Mental Imagery Mental imagery involves the athletes imagining themselves in a specific environment or performing a specific activity. Competition anxiety needn't get you down. Sit in a comfortable position and adopt a relaxed posture 2. hear. dismiss them with. Relax all the muscles in your body 5. touch. Slowly close your eyes 4. calm. Sight. repeating the focus word 6. Pick a short focus word that has significant meaning for you and that you associate with relaxation (e. stomach and back to relax as you breathe out Take a fourth deep breath and allow your legs and feet to relax as you breathe out Take a fifth deep breath and allow your whole body to relax as you breathe out Continue to breathe deeply for as long as you need to. relax. smell and perform. It can be mastered with just a few weeks' practice and comprises of seven easy steps: 1.g.

during training. he wrote: "I never hit a shot even in practice without having a sharp in-focus picture of it in my head. In every training session. a race course. Mental imagery can be effectively used to familiarize yourself with all kinds of things. Mental imagery should not focus on the outcome but on the actions to achieve the desired outcome. you have to use it ever day. To refocus.y y y y y y To see success. It's like a colour movie. or of a past or future competition or competitor can serve a motivational purpose. before you execute any skill or combination of skills. nice and white and sitting up high on the bright green grass." When should mental imagery be used? To become highly proficient at the constructive use of imagery. and I "see" the ball going there: its path. an event focus plan. a media interview plan. if a warm-up is feeling sluggish. which helps set the mental stage for a good performance. Athletes do a complete mental run through of the key elements of their performance. routines. To perfect skills. by imagining what you should focus on and feeling that focus. after training. Then there's a sort of fade-out. The best athletes "see" and "feel" themselves performing perfect skills. To familiarise. or plays on a very regular basis. or the strategy you plan to follow To set the stage for performance. How do I apply mental imagery? Golfing great Jack Nicklaus used mental imagery. a refocusing plan. imagery of a previous best performance or previous best event focus can help get things back on track. and in the evenings before sleeping. programs. For example. Mental imagery is often used to facilitate the learning and refinement of skills or skill sequences. If you want to perfect and use mental imagery to your fullest advantage. I "see" the ball where I want it to finish. which can result in increased intensity in training. It also helps keep negative thoughts from interfering with a positive pre-game focus. You can also use imagery as a means of refocusing within the event. and the next scene shows me making the kind of swing that will turn the previous images into reality only at the end of this short private Hollywood spectacular do I select a club and step up to the ball. Many athletes "see" themselves achieving their goals on a regular basis. In describing how he images his performance. Before or during training sessions. you can start by doing two things. calling up images of your goals for that session. It can vividly remind you of your objective. a complex play pattern or routine. and shape. such as a competition site. first do it . on your way to training. both performing skills at a high level and seeing the desired performance outcomes To motivate. even its behaviour on landing. Mental imagery is often an integral part of the precompetition plan. This helps draw out their desired pre-competition feelings and focus. a pre-competition plan. Then the scene quickly changes. trajectory. First. Mental imagery can be useful in helping you to re focus when the need arises.

something than cannot be changed.g. composed and motivated) approach. A "pattern breaker" can be a word or phrase shouted within the brain (not vocally) or something physical (pinging an elastic band on the wrist). this can be hard to overcome not only because they are inexperienced but also because of peer pressure or the fear of losing. What are the benefits? Mental Imagery itself can be useful in a number of circumstances including: y y y y developing self confidence developing pre-competition and competition strategies which teach athletes to cope with new situations before they actually encounter them helping the athlete to focus his/her attention or concentrate on a particular skill he/she is trying to learn or develop. In sports psychology "pattern breaking" routines are used to help prevent the athlete falling into this negative attitude. In young athletes. The problem here is that the athlete is focusing on the mistake (the past). The coach can use the "pattern breaker" in training or competition to refocus the athlete. How can I stay focused? I expect you have seen an athlete become angry at their performance (throw a tantrum. The role model's name could become the "pattern breaker" phrase for the coach to use when their young protégée falls into the negative thoughts trap. You may see the athlete attempt to assume the identity and hallmarks of the role model when they perform. television. as you would like them actually to unfold. reactions. This approach may not be suitable for a young athlete as it is specialised and will take time for them to master. recovery and recuperation the removal of stress related reactions. On hearing their role model's name the athlete will shift their focus to how their role model would react and assume a positive (calm. significant plays. See. etc. e. This can take place both in or away from the training session the competition situation When combined with relaxation it is useful in: y y y the promotion of rest. live) will help the athlete see how their idol stays focused and how they react to their mistakes. throw the racket on the floor. feel. the establishing of a physical and mental state which has an increased receptivity to positive mental imagery . movements. or feelings that you want to carry into the event. This is beneficial provided the role model is a suitable one. mentally recall the event focus plan. Many young athletes have their idol (role model) who they would like to emulate. In competitions. before the event starts.). and experience yourself moving through the actions in your mind. and not on the future (the next point).in imagery as perfectly and precisely as possible. skills. argue with the judge etc. increased muscular tension. Watching the role model in action (video.

can also be used as a means of refocusing quickly following a distraction. Performance Profiling has become a new tool in the athlete & coach's armoury. or lack of it. an effective coach would observe this and design a training program to address this situation. A direct question does not always provide the full facts since athletes can be reluctant. think of blasting off on the 'B' of the bang with the appropriate limb action (focus cue) "You only achieve what you believe" I use this quotation when I hear an athlete make a negative statement about their ability. can be directly observed.y the establishing of a set level of physical and mental arousal prior to warming up for competition The "Quick Set" routine Psychologist Jeff Simons developed a routine that would allow an athlete to achieve an appropriate mental arousal in the last 30 seconds before a competition. at least initially. Performance Profiling has three major purposes: y y y To aid in identifying an appropriate intervention To maximise the athlete's motivation and adherence to the program To monitor any changes over time . where as speed. Performance Profiling If a 1500 metre runner appeared to lack speed towards the end of a race. However. The "Quick Set" routine. emotional and focus cues. see yourself crossing the line in first place and recreate those emotional feelings of success (emotional cue) Return your focus to the sprint start. to discuss such things. An example of this routine for a sprinter could be: y y y Close your eyes. if psychological factors require attention. Objectives Over the past few years. An approach that is becoming popular in sport is Performance Profiling. in through your nose and out through your mouth (physical cue) Imagine a previous race win. I also use it to focus the athlete's attention when assisting them to develop mental imagery skills. psychological factors are often hidden. A key problem for coaches seeking to address such issues is how to work out what the problem is when they cannot observe what is going on in their athlete's mind. the intervention must be tailored to specific needs. clear your mind and maintain deep rhythmical breathing. Similarly. which involves physical.

. The coach needs to explain that the process will focus on the athlete's current feelings regarding their preparation for competition. but it is for the athlete to decide on what characteristics are chosen. the coach can use prompts.Athlete and Coach analyse the results and agree a way forward Step 1 The first step is for the coach to introduce to the athlete the idea of Performance Profiling and how it can help to direct training to areas of specific need. This process can be aided by a sense of mutual trust. and it should be made clear that any information gained about the athlete will remain strictly confidential. A calculation is then carried out to determine the 'Discrepancy' value. The coach should try to get the athlete to list the key psychological factors. In this step. Step 2 The athlete becomes actively involved in this step of the process. agility. y y y On a scale of zero (not at all important) to 10 (extremely important). Step 3 The next step is for the athlete to rate each of the identified characteristics.Coach outlines the Performance Profiling process Step 2 . speed. the athlete rates the perceived importance of each characteristic for an elite performer in their particular sport/event.Process Performance Profiling comprises of four steps: y y y y Step 1 .Athlete identifies the characteristics of an elite athlete for his/her sport/event Step 3 . and the following question should be directed to the athlete: What in your opinion are the fundamental qualities or characteristics of an elite athlete in your sport/event? Spend five to ten minutes listing the qualities or characteristics that the athlete feels are important. such as strength. Coaches should stress that there are no right or wrong answers involved in the process but that honest appraisal will facilitate a more productive outcome. the athlete should try to identify 15 to 20 characteristics. The higher discrepancies indicate areas that may need to be addressed through training or other intervention. but the same process can be applied to technical skills or physical attributes. If an athlete finds this difficult. The athlete uses the same zero to 10 scale to rate their current perception of themselves in relation to an ideal state of 10.Athlete rates each in terms of level of importance and self assessment Step 4 . balance etc.

depending on the exact circumstances and preferences of the athlete. Characteristics identified by the athlete Confidence Concentration Control Commitment Refocusing after errors Enjoyment Athlete's perceived level of importance (API) 10 9 10 9 9 8 Athlete's self assessment (ASA) 8 6 7 8 5 8 Discrepancy (10-ASA) × API 20 36 30 18 45 16 For this particular athlete refocusing after errors and concentration are key concerns that could be addressed. Alternative approach y y y y y Coach outlines the Performance Profiling process The athlete identifies a set of characteristics The athlete assesses his/her performance against each characteristic (self assessment) The coach assesses and rates the athlete against each characteristic The athlete and coach analyse the results and agree a way forward The coach-athlete relationship is much stronger when goals and targets are shared and agreed in this way. In such circumstances. The figure below illustrates a tennis player's self-assessment (yellow) and the coach's assessment (red) in relation to the athlete's backhand strokes on a scale of 0 (very poor) to 10 (excellent). .Step 4 The table below provides an example of these calculations for part of an athlete's performance profile. This can be via intervention strategies such as self-talk or a quick set routine. This shows that the coach and athlete are in general agreement over most of the relevant characteristics but in major disagreement over the backhand volley. Reassessment should always relate to the same characteristics identified in the initial profiling process and be conducted every four to eight weeks. video analysis of the player's performance might be a good way to resolve such differences and produce agreement on how to proceed.

Training Articles . It may also facilitate the coach-athlete relationship by promoting dialogue and addressing any perceived discrepancies.Psychology y Controlling the Raging Monster Within . The central involvement of the athlete in the process is a key strength that may boost motivation and promote adherence to any intervention strategies devised.Benefits Performance Profiling can help coaches develop a better understanding of their athletes by: y y y y Highlighting perceived strengths and weaknesses Clarifying the athlete's and coach's vision of the key characteristics of elite performance. Additionally. and highlighting any differences Highlighting discrepancies between the athlete's and coach's assessment of performance Providing a means of monitoring progress Conclusion Performance Profiling appears to be a tool that is particularly useful for aiding in the design of specific mental. the profile can be used as a monitoring device to assess the effectiveness of any interventions and highlight areas of good and poor progress. physical and technical training programs.

perhaps due to the recent increased publicity that hypnotherapy is receiving. y Psychological Skills Training A review of psychological skills training and the factors that can influence the benefits of such a program for an athlete y It's all in the mind A review of the techniques that will allow an athlete to relax and to focus their attention in a positive manner on the task of preparing for and participating in competition y How your athletes can avoid stress If you are in a stressful situation then your athletic performance. concentration. will be effected. A few examples of psychological skills include mental imagery.have an accepting mindset before competition. and positive self-talk. When you understand "how" and "when" you feel pressure. You can improve your confidence. how athletes experience it and how to manage pressure. you can use it to help you instead of work against you. with practice.To control your emotions during competition you must do two tasks . Here are some tips on how to manage stress. whether this be in competition or in training. Each psychological skill obtained must be individualized based on the psychological state of the individual and the sport that the individual is a participant. y When you can manage your emotions. which investigates if achievement goal theory is based on fact or fiction . goal setting. motivation and anxiety levels if you chose to y Mental Models . and arm yourself with mental strategies to cope with errors or mishaps.Noticing distinctions How Jonny Wilkinson uses an imaginary girl to stay focused on the rugby pitch and how we might acquire similar mental skills y Time and its influence on motivation How an athlete's psychological relationship to time will influence their motivation y Is "Achievement Goal Theory" reality or just a myth A resume of a MSc thesis. y How hypnosis can help your athletes to produce their top performance Hypnosis is an ergogenic aid used by many top athletes and teams that has been around for many years and is now making a comeback . These psychological skills may be used during sport injury rehabilitation to motivate athletes to adhere to rehabilitation. you can perform at your best We know from countless studies that mental skills are acquirable and you can. y Performing Under Pressure The article considers what is pressure. y What influence will sports psychology have on rehabilitation of injuries and the improvement of performance of sports skills? It is important to realize that there is not one specific psychological skill that assists in rehabilitation. learn to perform mentally.

endurance and the mental game . If you do not believe it then try this experiment: y Self-esteem in the athlete Why athletes must learn to separate self-esteem from their level of performance in sports y Golf . as well as a more competitive mindset y Minding the injury The four stages an injured athlete will go though on the road to recovery. strength and conditioning. increase core stability and develop a powerful competitive spirit y Taoist standing practice . swimming. and the evidence drawn on above suggests that hypnosis may be utilised as part of treatment during a recovery period y Zen Mind.core stability A explanation of the advanced standing posture and its benefits for developing core stability. cross-country.it's all in the swing and the mind How to prepare your annual golf training program and the benefits of including psychology training into the program y Running Buddhas: Ultra-endurance and the spiritual athlete A look at the training the Japanese Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei undertake to perform such a feat of ultra-endurance and how you can apply some of their training to your own sport y The Way of Energy and the Future of Performance Enhancement A review of how the Eastern energy arts such as Chi Kung and T'ai Chi can have a positive impact on the four main areas of Sports Science . and track and field y The power of thoughts There is scientific proof that negative thinking does play a role in producing negative outcomes. including gymnastics. and these athletes are usually found in a fairly small number of sports.the value of the mind in body healing It is clearly important to speed the recovery process as much as possible. intuitive and unconscious and where bursts of 'spontaneous excellence' occur naturally and effortlessly y Taoist standing practice . y Sports Psychology and Performance Enhancement How you and your team may benefit from the application of sports psychology y How to be a champion in sport and life Three key points that will boost your workouts to Olympic training status y Sports psychology guidelines for sports parents How parents can help make sport a successful and fun experience for young athletes y Which sports seem to produce low self-esteem? Athletes who develop eating disorders are female. strength and athletic development A review of the Taoist standing practice and how it helps to strengthen the bones and tendons.namely biomechanics.y What is the stimulus that gives rise to a specific response? How to build simple. powerful anchors for mental focus y The psychological side of injury The emotional stages an athlete goes through when injured y Wishing yourself a speedy recovery .for health. Sports Mind How to achieve a state of peak performance where actions are automatic.

Even the top athletes. One of my students. Some expectations that can lead to feelings of frustration include: .have an accepting mindset before competition. To be a consistent performer you must slay the raging monster within (control your emotions during competition). It took him several innings to get his emotional balance back and by the time he did recover. level-headed. How to let go of errors before emotions snowball out of control For example. your very first step is to identify strict expectations that cause you to become upset when you do not achieve your own expectations. expected to throw a no-hitter every game. you have became upset. frustrated.the perfectionistic athlete who is prone to emotional outbursts after errors or when not performing up to his or her expectations. angry.Psychology Controlling the Raging Monster Within Patrick J Cohn PhD explains how recover from errors and mishaps when playing your sport will hinge on your ability to let it go and remain composed. Recovering quickly from mistakes separates champions from athletes who crack under adversity and are cooked mentally for the rest of the competition. it was too late. Here is a baseball example to highlight the mental game dangers of expectations. you must do two tasks . How to have a positive pre game mindset for competition 2. I am sure at one time (or two). You know the type . My students are taught two top strategies for regaining emotional control quickly: 1. but they are able to gain control quickly and get back to business. or poised even when you are challenged by mishaps or adversity. and arm yourself with mental strategies to cope with errors or mishaps. a college pitcher. such as Tiger Woods. To get control of the raging monster within. What do you think happened when he gave up his first hit? He got frustrated and negative with his game because the perfect game was no longer obtainable. get upset. or just crawl into their negative mental shell and do not return. Emotional control is when you stay even-tempered. or angry with yourself and it cost you the game or match. Many talented athletes who do not know how to control their negative emotions fail to reach their potential because they get hot-headed.

In the quest for improved performance most athletes and sports people turn to ergogenic aids of one sort or another. Mike Brearley consulted a medical Hypnotherapist. nutrition and even applied sports psychology. A huge element in this perception of mind control regarding hypnosis grows from 'Stage Hypnotists'. Franz Alexander. This is in fact untrue. training advances. The subject is consciously giving their approval to the hypnotist's suggestions. The reason most of them do not like to talk about it is because of the age-old myth that hypnosis is a magical power to make you do things. Athletes use all kinds of scientific technology in their endeavour to improve. Hypnosis in sport Hypnosis in sport has a long history and was often used under different names. the most fundamental fact which we know about the process of life'. the Russian team took no less than 11 hypnotists. I am failing I cannot make any mistakes if I want to win To play my best. Hypnosis is an ergogenic aid used by many top athletes and teams that has been around for many years and is now making a comeback . On the other hand it is good that they create awareness of clinical hypnosis and some of the benefits it has. Also in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. in spite of its neglect by biology and medicine. In reality. Incidentally if the hypnotist suggests something that is fundamentally against an . I must have an error-free performance I cannot stand making stupid errors and should be upset with them If you carry these expectations into competition. Some Hypnotherapists claim that stage hypnotists do the image of hypnosis more harm than good and that the perceptions created by stage hypnosis sometimes generates fear and misunderstanding in the minds of the general public. How hypnosis can help your athletes to produce their top performance Gordon Manning explores how hypnosis can help to give sportspeople the competitive edge. According to Les Cunningham in his book. In the 1978/79 tour of Australia. including equipment.y y y y y I must play perfectly to be successful today I expect to perform perfectly today and if I do not. all subjects have total control over their minds and bodies.perhaps due to the recent increased publicity that hypnotherapy is receiving. mental or autogenic training being two. you leave yourself no room for success. You do not need to look too far in any sport to find great champions using hypnotic techniques to improve performance. 'The fact that the mind rules the body is. England cricket captain. you set yourself up for feeling like you are failing. MD. plus there is the unfounded fear of having ones 'power' taken away. which will usually include focusing and visualisation techniques for improvement. 'hypnosport'.

They experience a tremendous sense of well-being and peace of mind. When we set the alarm. The important thing is when you do this. Modern research has found that hypnotisability is directly related to intelligence and concentration. If you did not have the ability to go into some state of hypnosis you would not be able to do many other everyday tasks. concentrated and aware whilst their body becomes completely relaxed. we also program our subconscious to wake us up at that time. You can easily do without an alarm clock by repeating to yourself a few times over that you will wake at a certain time or after so many hours sleep. Watching television would be a problem as it would be difficult to become associated with characters and plots. although in hypnosis one is more aware at a subconscious level. So how or why does this happen. technique.e. So the time to do it . Firstly we need to look briefly at what hypnosis is before we can understand what it can do for the athlete/sportsperson and how coaches may use a Hypnotherapist to help with the improvement of their athletes. when hypnosis naturally occurs is during daydreaming which is a type of visualisation. We will discover later how this type of association is very powerful in 'sporting behaviour change'. This brings with itincreased awareness of the body's senses. as it works best when you are passing through a state of hypnosis on your way to sleep. Likewise athletic and sporting performance can be increased dramatically in many areas. say to wake up at 6:00am. You have to go through this level of hypnosis. speed and strength enhancements are particularly effective. one is becoming more focused on a given subject and less aware of their outer experiences.individual's morals then he or she will rapidly become consciously aware again and come out of hypnosis. Such a task would be mathematics. Pain is eased or physical ailments cleared up in situations where drugs were unable to assist. In this case. when you go to sleep at night and when you awaken in the morning. the subconscious Every person in this world goes into hypnosis at least twice a day. without imagining yourself in those rolls. Other time in our lives. Most people's body clocks run slightly faster than a normal 24-hour clock so our subconscious wakes us up those few minutes before the alarm goes off. to get from being awake and conscious to being asleep and unconscious. that is hypnosis. Countless experiments by psychologists and physiologists have proven that the human being can change his or her own beliefs significantly enough to alter the body in some astounding ways. at some time in our lives set an alarm clock to wake us up in the morning only to find that we awake a few minutes before the alarm goes off. its use can be just as effective at a conscious level. sometimes even euphoria or bliss. By looking at the clock whilst setting the alarm we also synchronise our own body clocks with the clock. In this state the mind is more receptive to positive suggestions and it is possible to access areas of the mind that are beyond the normal level of conscious awareness i. Suggestion is not a phenomenon that works only on the unconscious mind. We have all. In simple terms hypnosis is the word used to describe a state in which a person's mind remains calm. you would not be able to visualise in your mind sums or calculate them to any degree. style correction.

thereby enabling far greater concentration and also improving the ability to visualise. A visual person will be able to close their eyes and actually see themselves performing the task correctly. Let us now take a known concept from coaching and see how we can improve on this using hypnosis Visualisation or Mental Imagery Most coaches at some time or other will introduce visualisation to their athletes. turned the lights off and are starting to drift off to sleep. tremendous effort to maintain concentration during visualisation. posture. This state is also used when using hypnosis to help speed recovery. as it requires. can use suggestion to help improve performance. at times. Take as an example. In therapy. All this whilst dancing as a couple completely in harmony. It may prove more beneficial for these people to rather imagine another person doing the tasks . Others find it difficult to actually see the image in the minds eye. stress and other hindrances to peak performance. The effects of suggestions are greatly increased in these states. as the hypnotist can help the athlete achieve a state of hypnosis and thus a state of higher awareness. or even unconsciousness. However this is still not the ideal. with the help of a hypnotist. usually in the form of positive affirmations to assist in self-esteem. self-doubt. Taking this to the next level and introducing a Hypnotist specialising in Sport Hypnosis we could achieve far greater results. In suggestion therapy Post Hypnotic suggestions are used. Now the results from this will very much depend on whether the person doing the visualisation is a visual person or not . This inability to 'see' themselves makes it more difficult for the person to achieve the desired result.in other words can they actually see themselves performing or not. performance enhancement etc. it is not sleep. They have to maintain perfect style and posture whilst executing the correct technique for each step they take during their routines and being aware of where the other competitors are on the floor so that they do not collide. It is then that either Psychotherapy is undertaken to release undesirable subconscious neurotic behaviour or suggestions are used to alter thoughts. confidence etc. finish or the like.this sometimes helps as it dissociates the individual yet allows the mind to observe correct performance. top Dance Sport International competition Ballroom Dancers. hypnosis is used to bypass the critical consciousness to gain access to the powerful subconscious mind. Visualisation involves the athlete seeing and experiencing success in their mind. in time to the music and making it look flowing relaxed and as if they are enjoying the experience. feelings and behaviours.is when you are settled in bed. style. Remember hypnosis is a state of altered awareness.typically something related to his or her performance. We will come back to this method later and use it in other ways. It take approximately 2mins 30 sec to 3mins per dance and they typically do 4 to 5 dances per round . but a state where the consciousness is more focused and said to be altered from normal waking states. they act after the therapy is discontinued. often they are asked to imagine doing something . style. start. Under hypnosis a person would be able to better 'see' themselves performing the tasks with the advantage of the correct expected result being placed into the subconscious where it would form part of the individuals 'programming'. etc. what psychologists' term 'hyper-suggestibility'. remove negative feelings. style. It is this state that athletes and sports people.

after all he has an excuse cramp got the better of him. except the man does not believe that he is capable of even getting to the final. This is so that it becomes 'habit' .such as what to do if another couple is blocking your intended path. They have put in months and months of training. Following on from this any underlying doubts the athlete may have of reproducing 'good throws' repeatedly could be removed. They look so good during the early rounds. He doubts his ability. Later during another competition at a high level. their technique is excellent they look really good on the dance floor.a good habit to perform the technique correctly.this has never happened before so why now. usually one or two dances before the end of the round therefore not allowing enough points to get through to the final. Through hypnosis an athlete can be taken back to that good throw and all the elements of the throw replayed in the subconscious. in fact looking like podium finishers. he time and again pulls out due to cramp.sometimes 6 to 8 rounds before getting to the final. therefore helping with muscle memory and entrenching the 'habit'.so how do we get the athlete to perform like that most of the time instead of some of the time. Whole dance routines are 'practiced' in the mind along with 'what if' scenarios . correcting style.even when everything else is done correctly personal doubt can foil the best athlete. remember he is good enough to get through the early stages in fact very easily. It is known that self-doubt is one of the contributors to poor performance on the day of an event . Hypnosis can help with this by enhancing the visualisation experience. making it more 'real'. in fact they could easily place in the top three. He tries to ignore the cramp however it starts to affect his style and eventually all he can think about is the cramp and that he must stop and pull out of the competition. A great deal of effort and concentration is required during a competition. This process can be used not only with technique but also with all aspects of the performance. A Javelin thrower instinctively knows when the throw is a good throw as it just 'feels right' . There are far too many aspects to worry about during the actual competition so the more that can become second nature or habit. Remember imagination is powerful and can override reason. Their coaches and fans cannot understand why he always get cramp in the semi-final. This process could benefit greatly from visualisation especially if done correctly and 'felt 'during the visualisation. During the semi-final he starts to feel cramp in his calf . posture and technique along the way. the early rounds are not a problem they sail through those. Coaches will have the athlete practice and practice. So how is this going to affect them during the competition. Now take hypnosis and apply it to lets say a track or field athlete and we can see the benefits that can be obtained. breathing and posture amongst others. for example style. Similarly self doubt or negative thoughts can bring about an injury or cramp just at the crucial moment. During a competition a couple performing in a major competition with other top performers have the ability to perform exceptionally well. they are both supremely fit and it is not due to the amount of . Hopefully with feedback from the athlete on how it felt especially when the throw was a good one. Then asking the athlete to try and repeat the 'good throw' feeling on the next throw and have them try and remember that feeling so that it could be produced again in the future. the better. During training vast amounts of time is spent perfecting technique. sometimes hours and hours on just a few steps. this would entrench the feeling in the mind. Let us go back to our dancers. Further to this the athlete would be given the required suggestions so that during practice and competitions it would be far easier to produce good throws. in fact he is not really a confident person deep down and although he portrays being confident and assured it is all a show.

John we have said is not a confident person deep down and more importantly does not believe that he is good enough. This would be fine for John as a dancer but would not address the underlying belief of lack of confidence and self worth. After all mental edge is often the difference between great and truly great and Hypnotherapy will enable people to use any and all of the best methods of actualising the natural potential latent in all of us. As an example we could repeat to ourselves . one approach could be to address the cramp by programming the subconscious to relax the cramping muscle as soon as it starts to tighten. John's subconscious has been programmed with this belief and this manifests itself in a way to compound the belief hence the cramp. it could result in the belief manifesting itself in other ways. Exactly the same process can be used in other areas including sporting performance. adding more stress. thereby using the improved performances in competitions to reinforce the reprogramming of the subconscious. Left to continue they would eventually split up and never reach their true potential. Now this in turn feeds the belief so that John now has self-doubt about ever reaching a final. Incidentally there would be no harm in using both approaches one after the other. I mentioned earlier the alarm clock and how we do not really need it to wake up we simply need to tell ourselves that we want to wake at a certain time and provided we truly believed that we would wake up at that time. All their fellow competitors give encouragement and tell them how good they are and that if it not for the cramps they would definitely be in the final with a chance at a top three finish. This is self-hypnosis in its basic form.the following: y During my 100m sprint I will concentrate on the finish line and not look at my fellow competitors during the closing stages. If after the hypnosis sessions they went into a competition and placed in the top three this may give such a boost and help to change the old belief into a new belief. However Johns dance partner believes the coaches and other competitors and puts more pressure on John. The second approach would be to address the underlying problem thereby removing the selfdoubt and reprogramming the subconscious so that moving forward. Through hypnosis two approaches could be taken. Subconsciously John does not believe this and so the cycle continues. making the desire realistic (a realistic goal) and truly and sincerely believing in what we are telling ourselves.just as we are dropping off to sleep . thereby avoiding the cramp and allowing them to continue.dances during the competition as they train for hours on end with no problems whatsoever. The main principals to remember is when we tell ourselves what it is we want to achieve. we then would. a more positive belief that they can win and that John is good at dancing. John becomes more confident and believes in himself not only as an athlete but also as a person. To finish off. This would work fine for the competitions however depending on how the process was done. . So what is actually causing the problem? Let us call our male dancer John.

parents. Performing Under Pressure Patrick J Cohn PhD identifies the pressures that athletes place upon themselves and how to cope with them.from yourself and others . confidence. Pressure to live up to the expectations from others (coach. Some athletes thrive on the feeling of pressure. pressure is not some external force that grips you by the neck and strangles you. Do you ever get "butterflies" in your stomach (pre game jitters) before you compete? Do you get really nervous before the start of a big match or game and cannot relax after the game starts? Most athletes have felt the negative effects of pressure during their athletic careers. for example. Hypnosis can help sports performance. for example. and beliefs play a vital role in how well an athlete will perform under pressure. High expectations . Expectations you place on yourself about winning 2. The first step is to understand that pressure starts inside you with your thoughts about the big game or meeting others' expectations. Some sources of internal. you do not have to be a champion to use hypnosis. Why? Experience. whereas others crumble mentally and choke their brains out. When an athletes worries about disappointing others.Repeating this 6 times to ourselves and applying the principals above could help to improve our performance by stopping us habitually looking around during the latter stages of the sprints. Even the best athletes feel pressure before a big game. Simple self-hypnosis techniques can be learnt and perfected by anyone and can be used for: y y y y Visualisation/Mental imagery and rehearsal of future success Focusing on success and strategy tools to get in the 'zone' when you need to Overcoming mental blocks and barriers and phobias Reinforcing self-belief. What is pressure and how do athletes experience it? Pressure is a perceived expectation of the need to perform well under challenging situations. Many other affirmations can be used to the same effect. However. Pressure comes in many forms depending on the person and how an athlete "thinks" about the competition. but they know how to channel the pressure into positive intensity to boost performance. he or she is putting pressure on him or herself to not fail or look silly. self-inflicted pressure include: 1.turn into pressure. fans) to succeed . motivation and positive thinking Belief Success is achieved when the mind TRULY believes and sincerely EXPECTS the imagined result to happen. Fear of failure and expectation are tied to pressure.

thinking about the sights. If an athlete is in a stressful situation then their athletic performance. such as having your hard work not pay off Pressure to perform well or lose your place on the team Pressure not to blow the game and not feel embarrassed Pressure to perform perfectly and not make any mistakes ow your athletes can avoid stress Brian Mackenzie provides some tips on how to manage stress. Thoughts underlying the fear of failure. think through the problem by breaking it down. 5. Learn to think clearly and set yourself realistic goals and objectives. Remember that you are human and mistakes are inevitable. People need varying amounts ranging from 5 or 6 hours to 10 hours a night. People will not think any less of you. will be effected. Visualise yourself back into the scene. Think about a time or a place when you were relaxed and at peace. . Some people call it day dreaming but visualisation is a very powerful tool in reducing stress and anxiety. Ensure you are getting adequate vitamins and minerals in your diet. sounds and smells you experienced. It could have been on a holiday or a day off.3. If you feel a panic or anxiety attack coming on. Practice positive visualisation. whether this be in competition or in training. Nine times out of ten it then appears less serious. You will find that after 5 to 10 minutes you feel much more relaxed as your brain doesn't know the difference between imagining a situation and actually being there. Work through one problem at a time in a logical way. Tips to avoid stress Aim to exercise regularly. By trial and error you will know how much sleep YOU need to perform at your best. One recommendation that very few of us manage is to eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables daily. Try to recreate the situation again in your mind. Say NO to tasks and projects you cannot take on. After all they haven't got ESP. Learn to view mistakes as learning opportunities and problems as challenges. Imagine the worst that can happen. The coach can limit the effect on performance of competitive anxiety by assisting the athlete to identify an appropriate coping strategy. Stress is experienced when an individual feels that they cannot cope with a situation with which they are presented. Make sure you are getting enough sleep. Eat healthily. Exercise dissipates the adrenaline that builds up in stressful situations and leaves us feeling with a sense of achievement and control. 6. 4.

The other might imagine it as the experience of a lifetime for her to go out and enjoy. Progressive relaxation contracting and relaxing all the body parts is a very effective way of reducing tension. When you can manage your emotions. Mental toughness is what made Michael Jordan and Pete Sampras so special. Practice physical relaxation techniques. These athletes knew their real battle was not so much on the court. We know from countless studies that mental skills are acquirable and you can. Two players appearing in the Wimbledon final for the first time will imagine different things about the match. You can improve your confidence. rather than because you ought to or should do. You deserve to take a break occasionally. don't feel guilty enjoy it. One might imagine she would be unable to play well in such a big final. To be outstanding you have to hold your nerve. you are doing yourself a serious disservice. Accept your strengths and weakness and like yourself anyway. Make sure you are doing some things in your life because they are important to you. with practice. Sports Massage is an alternative method of helping to relieve tension and to relax you. At the top level it is not your physical or technical expertise. and consistently turn it on even when you do not feel at your best. but inside their heads. Whether you are aware of them or not. motivation and anxiety levels if you chose to. The same event evokes two different responses.only yourself. you can perform at your best George Karseras explains how managing your anxiety in a competition situation will improve your confidence to perform well. learn to perform mentally. learn how to change your interpretations and you learn how to manage your emotions. perform under the most intense pressure. She might feel liberated and relaxed and her play is likely to reflect these emotions. Given that mental strength is so vital. If you don't like yourself you can't expect anyone else to.Take time out for yourself. which separates you from the competition but your mental toughness. how you feel affects how you perform. You absolutely must manage your mental side if you want to be the best. which result in two very different performances. When you can manage your emotions you can perform at your best. Understand also that you can't change anybody else . Feelings are based on what you imagine or interpret from an event and not from the event itself. . concentration. then why is it so neglected in training routines? If you are one of those athletes who spends all your training time on technique and fitness while paying no attention to your mental side. Four important principles Feelings affect your performance. The message here is very simple. This player is likely to feel nervous and uncertain and her performance will be poor.

background. team members would pay attention to themselves. and any factors. their . The interventions would fall into two types. Associative interventions. resources. then another person in the team. which may be affected by his fitness. which exist within the team system. Our approach to team building is based on our early work with Tottenham Football Club during the early 80's. use the right-hand side of the brain. If Alan Shearer is not scoring goals. At the end of the warm-up. You operate within a system and your performance is just a symptom or outcome of how your system operates. associative and analytic. which may be affected by his lifestyle which may be affected by his time management. use the left-hand side of the brain. their awareness of others. We ask the team members to arrange themselves so that their "place" suits the purpose of our meeting. Analytic interventions. We aim to increase team member's self-awareness. We need to know your goals. The final phase is to provide you with support as you progress through your programme. skills. experience. how you feel physically affects how you feel emotionally. which are supporting you. Usually we ask the team to sit in a circle of chairs so that the whole team can see each other. This means that we can improve our mental performance using physical interventions (relaxation exercises) and vice versa. The aim is to increase your self-awareness during this process. It is always more potent to look to remedy the underlying causes of a problem than the symptom itself. Particular attention is paid to associative exercises because more right brain activity has been recorded in athletes during peak performances. the problem might lie not with him but with the midfield who are not creating chances for him. and then the team would perform some kind of team activity. which are constraining you. Before discussing the purpose and agenda. such as goal setting and self-talk exercises. the team has tuned into its team identity (what it is and what it can be) and is ready to achieve its potential. You can divide mental skills training into two approaches. Our work increases team members' understanding of what they need from each other to perform at their best. A football team of 11 players has 55 different relationships. Any one of these relationships can affect someone else's performance. Without buying into a programme you would be far less likely to stick to it. The second phase is the strategy or intervention stage.The mind and the body are inextricable linked. rather than focusing on the coach or us. so that wherever possible you find the solutions and suggest changes yourself. A cricket player's confidence may be affected by his technique. We focus on the relationships. such as visualisations and relaxation exercises. Team approach We start a team workshop with a "warm-up". Individual work In the first phase the objectives are to gain as much of an understanding as possible of your situation. individual work and group work. The parts of your system are all interrelated. any factors. Here the objective is to formulate a strategy to reduce your constraints and increase your resources. A standard programme for both may last for a minimum of six weeks with sessions of 60 to 90 minutes.

to get into the team and to have a bearable life leading up to the trial. After receiving this type of feedback. As a 14-year-old he had been labeled as lazy and unfit by a school coach and had dreaded fitness tests ever since.trial anxiety in order to perform at his best. listening. If you do not work on your mental side. your performance can be improved by practicing your mental skills.Strategy Billy's main constraints were: y y y his self-perception of his fitness the exaggerated emphasis he was placing on the fitness test his tendency to judge his own performance by the standards of his peers . Communication and change then become easier. We teach descriptive rather than evaluative feedback. which enhance trust and respect. we would ask Garth Crooks to say to Steve Archibald "during the last game I was in a scoring situation three times and each time you failed to pass to me.awareness of how other members are different to them and their appreciation of these differences. Case study Billy was a junior county rugby player who had tried several times to get into the England team without success. especially if they were good. Nor could he argue with the impact of frustration he had on his team-mate. but he could have argued that he was not a selfish player. Billy needed to improve his self-confidence and reduce his pre. Billy was a talented and consistent performer outside the trial situation. Whether you compete as an individual or as part of a team. questioning and feedback skills. Steve was more likely to change his behaviour. affect his own. Also. you never pass the ball to me". This means that instead of saying something like. Both events really happened. The latter are probably the most important. Only when they have gone through these phases can they see their team colleagues as they really are and not as they imagine them to be. it is about time you started. 2 . I get really frustrated when that happens". Billy also tended to think a lot about what other people said about him and during trials would let his colleagues performances. Everyone expected him to get into the trial on this occasion and this was making him feel even more nervous. He came to see me with six weeks to go before a trial for the Under 18 team. 1 .Understanding the system Billy's goals were to perform well in the trial. Steve Archibald could not have argued that he did not pass the ball three times. We also teach team members the communication skills. These are typically speaking. "you are a selfish player. We encourage the latter way of talking because descriptions provide far more information than opinions. Billy's main concern was scoring high enough on the fitness test. He complained of being so nervous during the weeks and days before a trial that he would stop eating and sleeping and become incredibly anxious.

allowed him to move from imagining the future (which usually made him feel anxious) to paying attention to the present and with it what he needed to do in the moment (thereby increasing his effectiveness). when he said things like "everyone else is so relaxed and confident" I would say. For example. Billy was able to increase his general levels of confidence. we minimised his constraints. his technical and physical skills. as it was only one of 17 criteria he had to satisfy. which is something he has never done before. At the trial itself he did exactly that. Billy was also able to increase his fitness confidence. which involved literally having a conversation with himself As a result. . I gave him encouragement to persevere with the programme as well as challenging him whenever appropriate. By increasing his fitness preparation Billy was able to improve his self-confidence.awareness. more supportive behavioural response. Practicing giving descriptive feedback in the moment (saying only how he was feeling or what he could see or hear). By visually re editing past fitness failures with pictures of him performing well in the test. By conducting a self-assessment of the most important criteria required for trial success (physical. He reported feeling less anxious about his trial and more confident in his ability to perform well.Support Billy saw me six times and worked extremely hard in between our sessions. With this followed a different emotional response and with it a different. becoming more conscious of his internal dialogue. but what exactly do you see or hear which suggests that they are?" Billy soon began to recognise the difference between reality and his interpretation of reality. By mentally rehearsing the whole trial performance. Ultimately Billy was successful in getting through to a core England team for the first time ever. 3 . "you imagine they are confident. This also served to put his fitness test into perspective. with none decreasing. which further increased his self-awareness. his experience of being in the trial situations and the supportive resources he had around him (parents. He even put himself forward to demonstrate a few skills. technical and mental) we developed a training strategy which realigned his training time more appropriately. and by channeling his drive and energy into our mental skill programme.y y the priority he was attaching to the physical and technical aspects of his game at the expense of the mental side the critical way he spoke to himself during his performances (which was draining his confidence) Supporting him was his commitment. Outcome Billy's ratings in seven out of his 17 criteria improved. Together we conducted the gestalt therapy technique of the 'empty chair'. Billy began to maximise his resources by choosing to spend his time only with people who were supportive of him. Billy increased his self. club and peers). Working together. Billy also recorded insights and learning experiences in a journal.

consistency." He places the ball carefully. In general if someone is a professional sportsperson they have the luxury of time and resources that amateurs do not have.Noticing distinctions Adam Vile explains how Jonny Wilkinson uses an imaginary girl to stay focused on the rugby pitch and how we might acquire similar mental skills There is no denying it. Milton Erickson. He is feared by opposing teams for his ability to turn pressure into points. for Erickson was: if you can play the first hole perfectly. The question. in the crowd. So what is the difference that makes the difference? Consistency One of the key attributes of world-class athletes is consistency. Then takes a single sidestep. The secret to Jonny's conversions This is one of the things that set Jonny Wilkinson above his peers. the . He has a single focus of attention. a psychiatrist who was a pioneer in the use of Hypnotherapeutic methods in sport. but even then there are vast differences between the skills even of world-class athletes. and gives you the opportunity. and you will be alone on the golf course". You have to somehow turn that talent into enhanced skill. he clasps his hands in front of himself. although this clearly has a major impact. that is all you will remember. the ability to perform at a top level of skill in every situation. he knows that he is ready. and then deteriorate. he is able to get himself in the zone and shut himself away from all the pressure and noise. worked with a number of world-class athletes (including the US Olympic Rifle squad and the shot putter Donald Lawrence). It cannot just be practice. and he is able to do it under the most stressful conditions. Then he feels it. (Vile and Biggs (in Press) p. But he is not yet ready. You only have to watch him prepare for a kick. and walks just the right amount of paces backwards. played an excellent round in his next tournament. he stands up. and there he sees her.Mental Models . the same steps each time. No matter how much effort you put in. Standing with his feet a shoulder width apart. some people are just much better at some things than others. How does he do this? In fact his approach is not too dissimilar from that taken by Erickson. tilting slightly upwards. The golfer. no matter how much practice. the same way that he has so many times before. And the rest is history". He seemed to always play the first hole perfectly. Finally looking towards the posts. needless to say.44 [8]) By following this series of steps. he uses the same ritual every time. then can you do as well on the next? He put the golfer in a trance and told him "You will play only the first hole. He focuses. he pulls his head back just a little. Shutting out the cheers and jeers of the crowd. In one story relating to a tournament golfer (Rossi 1988) Erickson is asked to assist in improving the golfer's consistency across all holes throughout a round. perhaps it is talent? Yet some may argue that it is talent that gets you noticed. there just seems to be an insurmountable gap between them and us. between the posts. staring at them for what seems like an age. sitting right in the middle. as if the target somehow magnifies in his vision.

or is a purely mental skill. If you have a chance to watch him. mental skills can be developed and perfected. modeling his style and specific movements. along with a number of other phenomena that Jonny exhibits . specifically directed trance. OK. Acquiring mental skills The good news is that just like their physical counterparts. Hallucination. and then down between them. this is the only kick that matters. He has named her Doris.single focus of attention. He aims for Doris. he is alone and it seems that for him.learning to feel if our movements are correct) Autonomous (making this an unconscious process) Mental skills can be thought of as developing in the same way. disassociation . "The key to cognitive motor learning lies in elucidating the way in which learned skills are represented in memory". and the flattening of his face.process of kicking a rugby ball over the bar and between the posts. and invariably collects the three points on offer. directly in-between them.are signs of trance. bringing them closer in his mind. Yet when the skill has mental components. Often it is the mental processes that are the difference that makes the difference. When he is at his most accurate. that he is able to visualise a woman sitting in the crowd behind the posts. you may also notice the defocusing of his eyes. visualising the ball going up. If we wish to replicate Jonny's consistency we not only have to practice constantly (even on Christmas day apparently). Jonny Wilkinson hallucinates during his kicking process. Jonny is in a brief. As Annett 1995 [1] suggests. the way looks up at the posts. The acquisition of physical skills can be thought of as a three-phase process (Fitts and Posner 1967 [3]): y y y Cognitive (focusing on the nature of the task) Associative (develops proprioception . you can only achieve so much by observation. we have to understand his mental processes as well. This is a straightforward matter when this skill is physical and can be observed and taught. the way to really understand the breakdown of the strategy is to ask. In particular the use of videotapes and computer software can assist is establishing the finer nuances. . most elegant and most efficient. which perhaps the performer did not even know about. and skills can be learnt. defocusing of the eyes. as he stares at his hands. so who exactly is Doris? However Jonny attributes his success to one fact above all. Skill acquisition essentially begins in the cognitive stage with the process of modeling the skill required. And of course you have to ask the right questions. Essentially. These processes are skills.

This made it. but many are. he watched a lot of videos of the top hitters and observed a pattern of behaviour that could only be attributed to mental processes. see and feel is important We may make the assumption that experience is stored internally in the three main sense systems (Visual. Hypnosis has. when you are about to (perform whatever physical skill)? What do you do then? These questions address two aspects of internal strategy. and equally they did not go through this process consciously. been utilised in improving sports performance. and making it much bigger. For some athletes it may be that having a thumping soundtrack playing in their head gives them just that extra push (after all many of us listen to music as we run). The key elements of such modeling concerns the way in which we represent skills internally. In real terms. these players were exhibiting the signs of trance: time distortion and hallucination. inside. we can have access to the same experiences as someone else. being two indicators. of course. for a long time. Kinaesthetic). he hears nothing (shutting out the crowd) and he feels that it is right (I would be interested in asking him how that feeling starts and where it moves to). and make the ball bigger. and that by modeling and replicating this structure. if we get it right.Think big and slow it down. and go slower. He connected this to standing on the plate. Now of course the ball did not actually slow down or increase in size. the key representations associated with the skill. Hear and Feel. 2000). Auditory. we are not all hypnotists and inducing trance does require special skill and training. For example Jonny sees Doris. which I fully support and want to argue here. Not knowing much about baseball. Practically. The suggestion. The difference that makes the difference Not all mental strategies are connected with trance. But this process did exist and it did seem to be the difference between the top hitters and the player that wanted to improve. Then he kicks. What you hear. but it may not start until . Bandler 1982 [2] tells of a time that he was asked to assist a Baseball player raise his game. Anyone can learn self hypnosis. and research is now catching up (Liggit. We need not focus on trance in our modeling of mental processes however. for them. He interviewed a number of them and found out that as the ball was thrown towards them they were using a mental process of slowing down the ball. and we have seen that some sportsmen use alert trance as part of their mental strategy for success. Understanding how someone represents skills internally then is essentially a case of asking the following two questions repeatedly: y y What do you See. In this way we have more chance of developing the same mental skills. Alternative models (Robazza 1994 [6]) are suggesting that (alert) hypnosis should be induced before or during performance. is that self-hypnosis should be part of the skill set of an athlete. and the order in which things happen. The player improved his game and became a top hitter. easier to hit. So Bandler taught this player to go into trance. as it will come as a by-product.

and such mental strategies may tip a performer into the world-class arena. Try this with your athletes By way of example you may like to try the following exercise on yourself. to learn a whole skill. We can take advantage of this by repeating and practicing the skill mentally at a much faster rate than we would perform it in practice. we will not know. is she in focus or out of focus. If these strategies are successful. . It may be that you can take these basic building blocks and subtly modify the distinctions to suit your own representations. We do have an additional advantage in the learning of mental skills: they can be practiced and refined almost anywhere. hear what you heard. and mental skills can be repeated far more and much more quickly. but if we can find a successful performer in our sport. Pick a time in the past when you were highly motivated. and Focus. This is the process of Association. structure and distinctions in their mental strategy. There is enormous value in repetition (of course assuming that the correct components are repeated). Contrast. Imagine you have a control panel in which you can adjust the representation. Brightness. There is a view (Bandler 1982 [2]) that the brain learns quickly. Set all the controls to those of your most compelling motivation. Now think of something that you do not want to do (the washing up always gets me) and make a representation of you doing it. Towards Autonomous installation Having broken the mental processes of the expert on a specific skill down into a number of representations in a specific order we then need to install it in ourselves and in our athletes. improving perhaps at the micro level. The key to modeling the mental structure and process is to notice finer and finer distinctions. feel what you felt. Write down the numbers on each control knob. Adjust them up and down until you feel totally motivated and utterly compelled. not slowly (how long. for example. whilst adopting at the macro level the winning strategy. It has the following controls: Volume. hears and feels internally. but also the fine distinctions that they make in these representations. For example. Even on the bus. Go back and see what you saw.they hear the gun or get a specific feeling in their stomach of excitement. It is important to remember the aim of our modeling. then we will have a model of the psychological underpinning of whatever skill we are working on. or with your athletes. does he wait until she is in focus and then he knows that it is the right time? Without asking. then they constitute part of the whole that makes up a specific skill. and understand the order. and should go hand in hand with the practice of that skill. does it take you to learn a phobia?). when Jonny sees Doris. So the mental processes that we have elicited must be connected with the physical aspects of the skill. How does that make you feel? The key to modeling internal process is to understand not only at the general level of what it is that the expert sees. During coaching sessions the mental and the physical aspects must be practiced and seen as two sides of the same skill.

an individual who is devoted to continual improvement of oneself. frustration. through daily struggle. It is like John Maxwell said. Apply the following principles of championship athletes and elevate your workouts to Olympic training status. everyone has the ability to be an Everyday ChampionŒ[1]. My challenge to you is to go out. In fact. "Dreams do not work unless you do. Start with the way you represent success yourself. this does not mean that their journey is for the elite only. How about your journey? What do you dream of in your effort to win your gold medal? The exciting truth is that with a little hard work. and the right supportive environment. pump up the volume and if you want to. these mental skills and strategies will become unconsciously installed. but for Olympic athletes training is much more than this. we can benefit from hypnosis. and notice distinctions. and hardship. this athlete experiences personal success and public victories. and replicate that the next time you are competing. These are young men and women loaded with talent that is laced by hard work. Turn up the brightness. you can win your gold. Additionally in moving to the autonomous stage. The true meaning of the Olympics is about the process or journey of an amateur athlete. Ultimately. And while these future Olympians are presented with the opportunity of a lifetime. Accelerated learning works in this way. While it is unlikely that most of us will never compete in the actual Olympic Games. Understanding mental processes is just as relevant for the occasional squash player as for an international sportsman. Turn your ability into achievement . smart training. It is about pushing life's limits and having the courage to reach your potential. you too are loaded with talent and that I am sure has been laced with a lot of hard work. and many sportsmen can see immediate benefits in their game after just one or two sessions of hypnosis (Holdevici 1989 [4]).Practice makes permanent By constant repetition." It would have been too easy to just write an article on physical training with a few sample exercises. play to win!! How to be a champion in sport and life Jeremy Boone provides three key points that will boost your workouts to Olympic training status Do you ever get that feeling deep down that you should be able to accomplish much more than you are at present? Are you looking for a bigger challenge to overcome because your daily workouts are just too easy? Or are you training for a specific goal but feel like something is still missing in your workout program? Future stars There is a good chance that there are a few Olympic hopefuls close to where you live. which can quickly install processes directly in the unconscious.

what is the good news? You too can elevate yourself to Olympic training status. How? Play a bigger game simply by incorporating these principles into your workout program. and even if they feel signs of overtraining from the previous day. Gold Medal Tip: Keep a detailed training log and include hours of sleep. If you want to win your game. They can tell you their daily training volume. appetite. The competition is not you versus them. morning heart rate. you first have to win your inner game. the individual who has everything you are trying to attain. five days this week. Olympic athletes know their bodies inside and out as well as every facet of their training program. and quality of sleep in your journal. a training partner. Unfortunately this does not give a complete picture of what is going on in your body. how much weight was lifted today versus last week. if you were to ask them what they did two weeks ago they probably could not tell you. or the lungs of Lance Armstrong. Working out two days last week. Relaxation Relaxation itself can be useful in a number of circumstances including: y the promotion of rest. Don't let your competition define who you are Does this scenario sound familiar? You are right in the middle of your workout at the gym and feeling great. So. How many people do you know workout four or five days a week but do not actually have a goal in mind? Better yet. Many athletes keep a journal. but most of the time they only log physical qualities of training. How much better can you make yourself in your pursuit of athletic excellence? Gold Medal Tip: Only focus on what you can control«YOU! Monitor Your Training Just because you are active does not mean that you are actually accomplishing anything. In fact. Maybe you want that perfect looking body. and three days next week will prevent you from ever reaching your podium. blazing speed. What is missing or what are you tolerating in your life that is preventing you from establishing discipline? Gold Medal Tip: Athletes are made daily.Discipline is what turns your ability into achievement. It is about you versus you. Too often we are guilty of comparing ourselves to our team mates. Without it. your goals will always be daydreams at best. this approach actually could be detrimental to your body. not in a day. recovery and recuperation . or another individual that we do not even know. desire to train. only to look over across the room and see your nemesis.

low in arousal. legs.y y y the removal of stress related reactions. disinterested. the muscle returns to a more relaxed state. For the first few sessions. This can take place both in or away from the training session the competition situation How do I achieve relaxed muscles? Progressive muscular relaxation involves the active contracting and relaxing of muscles. shoulders. the athlete should alternate the focus between sessions to determine which one they prefer. thinking positively. Schultz in the 1930's noticed that patients in a relaxed state experienced one of two sensations: the feeling of warmth or the feeling of heaviness in completely relaxed limbs. back.H. stomach. concentration should be focused on one of these sensations. This process should be performed for the following parts of the body in turn . etc. sick with worry. etc. jaw. Can Relaxation have a Negative Effect? In a competition situation an athlete will either be: y y y Under excited. we might be able to reduce his/her arousal level to that of the optimally excited athlete. How will relaxed muscles feel? J. hands. neck. face and eyes. etc. feeling good. e. This would have a positive effect on his/her performance. increased muscular tension. etc. nervous-anxious. arms. scared of the competition. nervous but in control. looking forward to the competition but apprehensive. find it hard to "get up" for the competition. Over excited.feet.g. During the relaxation process. buttocks. thighs. If we were to use relaxation procedures with an over excited athlete. However if we asked an under-excited athlete to use relaxation procedures . over the top. the establishing of a physical and mental state which has an increased receptivity to positive mental imagery the establishing of a set level of physical and mental arousal prior to warming up for competition Mental Imagery When combined with positive mental imagery it is useful in: y y y y developing self confidence developing pre-competition and competition strategies which teach athletes to cope with new situations before they actually encounter them helping the athlete to focus his/her attention or concentrate on a particular skill he/she is trying to learn or develop. Optimally excited. When a muscle is tightened for 4-6 seconds and then relaxed. high in arousal.

Relaxation Training There are a number of relaxation techniques that have the following characteristics: y y y y procedures for first recognising and then releasing tension in muscles concentration on breathing control and regulation concentration on sensations such as heaviness. This script could be recorded as an MP3 file . "calm" Self Hypnosis This is one of the most popular self-hypnosis techniques employed by athletes. feeling controlled.g. the area just behind your naval button. dimly lit and warm room which is free from interruption Centering The Centering technique was developed by the Tibetan Monks over 2000 years ago.it would only make it harder for him/her to "get-up" for the competition. shoulders and chest.try to keep the tension in the upper body to a minimum as you breath Inhale deeply from your abdomen (your stomach will extend) and be aware of the tension in your face.. As you exhale let the tension fall away and focus on the feeling of heaviness in your stomach Continue to breath evenly and deeply and focus your attention on the centre of your body.where there are 3 full stops (. warmth mental imagery Regardless of which technique is used. heavy and calm As you breath out think of a word that encapsulates the physical feeling and mental focus you want e. providing an effective way to manage anxiety. y y y y y y Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. the following two conditions need to exist if the technique is to be learned: y y the athlete must believe that relaxation will help a quiet.. Centering requires you to focus your attention on the centre of your body. arms hanging loosely by your side Close your eyes and breath evenly .) leave a pause for a few seconds and remember to speak clearly and slowly. . the area just behind your naval button Maintain your attention on that spot and continue to breath evenly and deeply. The coach therefore has to know his/her athletes and how they react in competitive situations. The following script is an adaptation of a script published by the London College of Clinical Hypnosis. The technique has a calming and controlling effect. neck. It aims to help you distance your mind from the here and now and place you in a setting that you associate with relaxation and inner calm. "relax".

... "won". become aware of your eyelids and feel them blinking quickly and notice that you have a strong desire to close your eyes. in . Take deep breaths in and out.... and enjoy.. a summer meadow or somewhere you can imagine you would feel relaxed. this beautiful place. you will imagine your favourite place of relaxation. put on some very relaxing music or sounds of nature.Firstly you need to relax. you can count down from 10 to one. breathe in . you will be fully alert... and when you do so. In a few seconds' time..... . again you feel very tranquil and this tranquility is accompanied by a sense of anticipation.... each step down from the balcony will take you deeper and deeper... maybe somewhere you have been before. ..... For example..... feel it flowing over you as if it were the tide going in and out. and as you slowly descend these stairs. In a few seconds. Engaging in meditation helps reduce stress before an event and with experience the athlete can learn to relax different muscle groups and appreciate subtle differences in muscle tension. then concentrate on the sounds of the music. now begin to pay attention to the sound of your thoughts. and now... As you stand up. a beautiful garden. throughout your entire body.. have a stretch and notice how good you feel. for any reason... more and more relaxed.. allow your eyes to close and feel a deep sensation of relaxation... the stairs are well lit.. out. you will then step off. you will take a single step down the stairs. at any time.. As you breathe out. say the word "won" silently to yourself. Meditation for Relaxation A number of people involved in sports psychology believe that meditation can be useful in getting maximum performance from an athlete (Syer & Connolly. sit or lie down in a position that you find comfortable in a place where you are unlikely to be disturbed. and you can see them clearly. beginning at your feet and progressing to your face Breathe through your nose and become aware of your breathing. Look up at your eyebrows and begin to concentrate on the sounds around you.... a deserted beach.. and at the number 10 you will be fully awake and alert.. by opening your eyes.. . concentrate on your breathing. and a handrail on each side. for example in case of emergency or any situation where full attention is required.. To take yourself out of your relaxing place in a gradual manner.. maybe the distant sound of a car driving by or the hustle and bustle outside on the street. you are going to experience a sense of ever-deepening relaxation. If. you can pause and wonder where you might go next... The technique includes the following steps: y y y Lie down on your back in a comfortable position and close your eyes Relax all your muscles. simply count up slowly from one to ten. with wide steps. Provide yourself with only positive and beneficial suggestions... in and out. open your eyes.. 1984). leading down from this balcony... there are strong stairs... .... in and out. attaining peak performance in an upcoming competition. just imagine that you are standing on a balcony. relating to increasing your self-confidence..... you will find yourself in your favourite place of relaxation. or mastering a specific sports skill that has perhaps proved elusive to you.. and with each descending number you will become more and more calm.. You will feel the stairs under your feet and when you eventually reach step one. on reaching the number eight. listen to your heart beat... ..... For example. out. into your wonderful state of relaxation.... and there is a long set of stairs in front of you.. and with each descending number between 10 and one.

saying to yourself 'I feel the tension flowing out of my leg. about 10 seconds or so. Maintain a passive attitude.until you have to let go. as tightly as you can. let go'. At this point. heavy. say to yourself 'Leg. Stomach o y y . on the tension flowing out.. lie quietly for several minutes at first with closed eyes and later with opened eyes. Hold them as long as you can .. permit relaxation to occur at its own pace and expect other thoughts. but do not use an alarm. as follows y Legs Flex the muscles of your left leg by raising it 6 to 10 inches above the floor Point your toes slightly back toward your head. rolling the backs of your hands against the floor Roll your head back and forth Now begin the "Getting Loose" exercise for each part of your body. Then release them. Continue for 20 minutes..my leg feels relaxed. Let the leg rest for another 10 seconds or so. When you finish. saying 'Let go'. feet about 12 to 18 inches apart and your arms at your sides Go as limp as you can from head to foot Let your shoulder blades go slightly flat Waggle your feet Settle in with your legs Shake your arms gently. return your concentration to your breathing. Pause for 10 seconds or so and focus your attention on the relaxed feeling in those muscles. until you begin to feel the muscles start to tremble. Buttocks and thighs o Tighten your buttock and thigh muscles.longer than 10 seconds . Then. Each session should begin with "Getting Loose" and then followed with "Breathing Easy". When distracting thoughts occur. stop flexing it and let the leg drop. You may open your eyes to check the time.. Hold this position of tension for as long as you can."won". Getting Loose Begin each session as follows y y y y y y y y y Loosen your clothing and remove your shoes Lie down with a pillow under your head (on a bed or on the floor) Lie flat on your back. and so on. It is best to use the relaxation program prior to commencing the warm up and then to use the warm up to achieve optimal level of arousal. Try to practice a relaxation technique once a day. to yourself. warm. completely relaxed' o Repeat the flex-let go-rest procedure for that leg. o Run through the entire procedure again for your right leg. Relaxation Techniques This page contains a program to help you relax. o Repeat the exercise.

. The tension has been let go. Say 'Let go' and relax... weightless. If any area seems to have some residual tension. Hunch your shoulders up as tightly as you can. Flex the muscles in your arms and shoulders. face and eyes feel relaxed. Without moving your head slowly roll your eyes to the right as far as they will go. tightening all along it from your tailbone to your neck. stay in this relaxed state for the rest of the 10 minute session. jaws. o Lie there and feel the tension drain away. Alternatively think of floating in space. then to the left. o Repeat the exercise Arms and Shoulders o Imagine there is a bar suspended above you that you want to use to pull yourself up. Let you. peaceful place. Observe the pleasant. o Rub the palms of your hands together until you feel heat..y y y y y y y o Do the same procedure twice for your abdominal muscles Back and Neck o Arch your spine. then to the centre. but do not worry if there is still a little left. o Repeat the exercise. Rest. ' Rest for 10 seconds or so. and finish by telling it 'Let go'.and just let yourself go. My buttocks. above your chest. letting the tension flow out. Then say 'Let go' . all the way.. calm feelings. Entire body o Clench your feet and fists. Pull your shoulders up. Think of floating in a small boat on a peaceful lake with a soft breeze gently rocking you back and forth. as much as you can. ' Breathing Easy . Raise your hands. shoulders. o Repeat the exercise Jaw o I tighten your jaw muscles. soaking up the warm. o Repeat the exercise. Now simultaneously flex your entire body. clamping down on you back teeth. and tell your eyes 'Let go' and feel the tension flow out as you feel the warmth. Let your attention wander slowly over each part of your body. Eyes o Focus on a point on the ceiling. Hold as long as possible and then say 'Let go. relaxed feelings. back and forth. My back arms. Say 'Let go'. as you did in the exercise. Get totally relaxed o Close your eyes. Tell yourself 'I am relaxed now.. palms upward. thighs. Keeping your eyes closed. arching yourself as much as you can from your heels to the back of your head.. Close your eyes and cover them with your hands.. Think of a very pleasant. My legs feel relaxed. lighter than air. Grab the imaginary bar and clench your fists around it as hard as you can. then back to the centre. Hold it for as long as you can until you feel your body tremble. Tighten your jaw and face. Let the heat warm them. Feel the tension draining out of you.. Rest and focus on the relaxing feeling. tense it. from legs to face.. and abdomen feel relaxed. Face o Tighten your facial muscles into a strong grimace.

You will soon begin to feel a calm. even pace.. It may seem a bit difficult to stay with at first.. your breathing rate will be automatically slower and you can dispense with the "one and two and three and four" cadence.Breathe in slowly Hold breath . o y y Do not worry if the sequence is not exact or the cadence perfect..Hold it very briefly.. down to the lower part of the lungs. All the tension is going out of me as I exhale and good feelings are coming into me as I inhale. Imagine your chest slowly filling with air.Let the air out slowly (do not blow). Imagine all this happening as you say it to yourself. easy. counting four seconds to yourself 'One and two and three and four'... The count is to give you a nice and easy. saying mentally 'Easy.. easy ' with each exhalation. Hold breath .. hold your breath for another four seconds. After the ten cycles. Feel yourself relaxing as you do..easy. Do not do it until you are blue in the face... Hold breath o When you have inhaled fully. from your diaphragm to your collar. Now do as follows y y Inhale .' Let out as much air as you can. I will recall the good feelings I am experiencing now and they will automatically return to me. filling your chest with air. When I am playing my sport.Hold it very briefly . This should be just a comfortable pause. Exhale o Exhale .Breathe in fully.some say a warmth radiating from your chest throughout your body Now let yourself breathe normally and tell yourself relaxing phrases 'I feel very relaxed. Exhale .. Repeat this cycle ten times. as follows y Inhale Inhale slowly and deeply.. Just let the air out through your mouth slowly saying to yourself 'Easy. The important thing is to establish the slow relaxed breathing rate. "Easy " will be able to tell myself to relax whenever I feel overly tense.but do not blow.. easy.Having completed the "Getting Loose" exercises remain lying on your back. easy. but just keep going. Feel your shoulders.. chest and diaphragm letting go.. I will be able to take a few deep breaths and by saying. When I am playing. thoroughly pleasurable feeling . Carry out the "Breathing Easy" exercise for 10 minutes.. again counting to yourself 'One and two and three and four'. Now do as follows y y y y Inhale . think of the tension flowing out of you. As you exhale. easy. Try to breathe as fully as you can without discomfort..

Let the air out slowly while mentally saying to yourself 'Easy. y Focus your relaxed feelings Now begin to focus this relaxation on your event. The coach can limit the effect on performance of competitive anxiety by assisting the athlete to identify an appropriate coping strategy. For each of these times rate the level of stress for each area on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 is "low". events have a high priority and tasks that will require a high degree of focus. If an athlete is in a stressful situation then their athletic performance. Tell yourself 'When I am running and I begin to feel tension gripping some muscles. whether this be in competition or in training. I will be able to tell those muscles "Let go". easy. easy. 3 is "medium" and 5 is "high") that the athlete feels he/she could potentially be under. sport or family/social life) and identify those times in the year where the athlete will be busy. Accessing and Managing Stress There are many aspects of an athlete's life that can be stressful at certain times. and pay attention to the pleasant feelings in your body.' Repeat this cycle ten times. Listen to the sound of your own breath coming in and out.y y Exhale . Now let your breathing go naturally. Continue to do the breathing exercises for the rest of the session.. easy. Work with your athlete to assess each of the areas (work..as long as an eight-count. just let yourself enjoy the feeling for a minute.. When commitments in a number of areas coincide then the effect can be stressful which may result in commitments being compromised or in worse case situation their health being affected. The exhaling will last longer . This may arise because of commitments in the areas of work. The information can then be plotted on a year planner to . study. will be effected. perhaps. sport or family/social life. Repeat the same encouraging phrases to yourself that you did earlier.. By planning we can reduce the level of stress that the athlete and perhaps the coach will encounter. each time alternating the ten cycles of inhale-hold-exhale with the mental encouragement. As a coach. After the last cycle of ten..' Stress Management Stress is experienced when an individual feels that they cannot cope with a situation with which they are presented. we need to consider these areas when planning the annual training program with the athlete. study. saying "Let go" will recall the relaxed feelings I feel now and will release the tension from those muscles.. You will notice that the breathing is slow and deep without you having to make it that way.

People need varying amounts ranging from 5 or 6 hours to 10 hours a night. . "C" an indoor athletics championships meeting and "D" in week 9 a family holiday. Learn to think clearly and set yourself realistic goals and objectives. Make sure you are getting enough sleep. Eat healthily. By trial and error.provide an indication where potential stressful times could occur and the identification of stress relieving strategies are required. Ensure you are getting adequate vitamins and minerals in your diet. Exercise dissipates the adrenaline that builds up in stressful situations and leaves us feeling with a sense of achievement and control. you will know how much sleep YOU need to perform at your best. The stress levels around weeks 6 and 7 are accumulating so priorities will need to be determined. "C" an indoor athletics championships meeting and "D" in week 9 a family holiday. "B" an exam. "B" an exam. One recommendation that very few of us manage is to eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables daily. In the example table above: "A" is a project delivery. Work through one problem at a time in a logical way. In the example table above: "A" is a project delivery. The stress levels around weeks 6 and 7 are accumulating so priorities will need to be determined Tips to avoid stress Aim to exercise regularly.

Practice physical relaxation techniques. People will not think any less of you. Take time out for yourself. Try to recreate the situation again in your mind. After all.only yourself. you cannot expect anyone else to. Sports Massage is an alternative method of helping to relieve tension and to relax you. Learn to view mistakes as learning opportunities and problems as challenges. it then appears less serious. You will find that after 5 to 10 minutes you feel much more relaxed as your brain does not know the difference between imagining a situation and actually being there. think through the problem by breaking it down. rather than because you ought to or should do. You deserve to take a break occasionally. thinking about the sights. do not feel guilty enjoy it. Visualise yourself back into the scene. Imagine the worst that can happen.If you feel a panic or anxiety attack coming on. Say NO to tasks and projects you cannot take on. Make sure you are doing some things in your life because they are important to you. sounds and smells you experienced. Understand also that you cannot change anybody else . Nine times out of ten. they have not got ESP. Think about a time or a place when you were relaxed and at peace. Practice positive visualisation. Remember that you are human and mistakes are inevitable. Progressive relaxation contracting and relaxing all the body parts is a very effective way of reducing tension. . It could have been on a holiday or a day off. Some people call it day dreaming but visualisation is a very powerful tool in reducing stress and anxiety. If you do not like yourself. Accept your strengths and weakness and like yourself anyway.

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