Winning the Mental Game of Sports
Even elite athletes can be challenged by a lack of confidence or become rattled during a game. But with championships and scholarships on the horizon, there’s no reason for student players to bench themselves if they have the right tools to compete at their best possible level.
A passion for fitness, nutrition and health motivated me to study the mental game of sports and incorporate sports hypnosis in my practice. Caines Center For Psychotherapy helps athletes ages 15 and up achieve peak performance. Clients come from New Jersey, as well as Pennsylvania and New York.
Youth and adult athletes who have a strong desire to excel do very well with sports hypnosis. Through our work together, they come to understand that the mental aspect of sports is just as important as their mechanical skills, and learn to train their minds as well as their bodies. These athletes are able to perform more consistently, with greater confidence through the hypnotherapy techniques we use in our sessions.
The goal is not about achieving perfection but about recovering from mistakes more easily and removing the obstacles to doing their best. I do this through progressive muscle relaxation, guided visualizations, hypnosis and interactive mental exercises that the athletes then take with them to the field, court or track, with positive results. I work with athletes from football, soccer, basketball and baseball to track and field.
The most common issues I help athletes with are:
- Performance anxiety, lack of confidence – this often occurs during a rough streak or after being on the disabled list
- Loss of focus during a game or match – often due to a confrontation with another player or a botched play
- Problems relating to teammates – a feeling of being left out or not meshing well with the other players
- Upset over the coach’s critiques or communication style – difficulty taking in constructive criticism or dealing with harsh communication
- Fear of serious injury – often seen in students who have recovered from an injury and are getting ready to play again
During sports hypnosis, I use the athletes’ own words and body language to reinforce positive messages specific to their goals. For optimal results, I speak with the coach and trainer to incorporate their suggestions for each athlete.
The feelings and imagery associated with peak performance are used extensively in my work. During guided visualizations, the athletes access the state of being “in the zone” to achieve excellence and they learn to use these visualizations before, during or after a game or match.
The goal of my work is to provide tools that athletes can use to feel confident and on top of their game.
Claire Caines, LCSW is a New Jersey Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a fellow of the National Board of Certified Clinical Hypnotherapists. She has studied and practiced hypnosis for 20 years and helping young athletes for 12 years. Her professional credentials include Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor. She completed mastery training in Neuro Linguistic Programming, a method of hypnosis recognized as highly effective in helping people create change.