Athletes have so many outside factors that influence them, that sometimes they have trouble enjoying the sport that they play.
Some of these outside influences are: being offered large sums of money, and their career status.
All is not lost - there are ways to change an athlete's behavior.
· Hypnosis is one way to change behavior. Hypnosis does not work for every athlete. Some athletes are able to use hypnosis, while other athletes are not affected by it at all. Therefore, it is hard to study this phenomenon. Some people expect hypnosis to work immediately, therefore even if the athlete is not affected by hypnosis, mentally they think it works. According to Riecke (1969), for those athletes that are affected by hypnosis, there are certain factors that can be developed. These are listed in the sidebar.
· Mental practice is another way to change an athlete's behavior. Mental practice is a very important part of an athlete's training. Even though this is so important, many coaches do not take enough time to focus on this. Most coaches feel that they have such limited time to train physically that they cannot take time to train mentally. It is important for an athlete to visualize and imagine skills that they perform on the court.
There are many training techniques used in order to correct dysfunctional thinking. This is done through cognitive and affective training. The first type of training is positive thinking. It is very important for an athlete to think positively about what they do. An athlete can enhance positive thinking skills through mental training.
· Competence training is when athletes are successful, and view themselves as such. If this happens, they will begin to develop competence. In order for an athletes competence to increase, they must be able to attribute success to their own efforts rather than external factors.
· Meditation is used by some athletes to relieve themselves from stress. Some athletes feel that through meditation they can find inner peace, which in turn will give them a true sense of accomplishment.
· Relaxation is very frequently used for teams to prepare for competition. In certain situations during competition it is important to be relaxed. If an athlete practices relaxation techniques on a regular basis, then the athlete should be able to relax on command.
· Affective control is when an athlete experiences specific fears and/or anxieties. When these specific fears and/or anxieties occur, this behavioral technique can be used. For example, if a volleyball player has a fear of performing in front of a crowded gym, then she/he will not be able to perform at their best in a crowded gym. This is when affective control comes into play. This athlete’s fear needs to be recognized, and the underlying factors of this fear need to be discussed.
· Cognitive behavioral techniques, is technique used in a mental training setting.
· Autogenic training is used to reduce blood pressure, breathing rate, and tension.
· Visual motor behavioral rehearsal is a combination of relaxation and imagery. Suinn believed that "quality and intensity of imagery rehearsal to be higher and more intense after relaxation."
· Attentional control training is used when an athlete has too narrow or too broad of a focus. It is important for athletes to ignore interfering signs. This can also be done through mental training.
· Religion and Spiritual exploration is used by some athletes, who are going through personal crisis. These athletes turn to religion to feel at peace. Therefore this can be used as a training technique for those athletes that have strong religious beliefs.
The main ways an athlete may be helped through hypnosis are:
Butt, D.S. (1987). Psychology of Sport: The Behavior, Motivation, Personality, and Performance of Athletes. Van Nostrand Reinhold Company Inc. N.Y., N.Y. 10003
Riecke, L. (1969). Five Ways to increase athletic performance through using hypnosis. Hypnosis Quarterly, 14(3) p. 7,