I want athletes to have fun playing their sport and excel at their play. No matter what the sport—tennis, golf, hockey, soccer, wrestling, football, swimming, fencing, or horseback riding—I can teach athletes to teach themselves how to decrease their stress, stay focused, and play even more confidently.
“Finding the Zone”
Don’t get me wrong: A certain level of stress can promote excellence and can push a person to try harder, to focus better, and to have more fun. But when people push past their “good stress” threshold, it can lead to second-guessing, misjudgments, and poor performance. To play well, athletes need to play with a certain amount of intensity. By that, I mean they need to be in their “zone of optimal performance.”
Need examples? Players make bad shots, or bad plays, and can’t get those mishaps out of their minds. Players practice-practice-practice, and still cannot “get it right.” They lose focus, get mad at themselves, and often give up.
You’ve heard about the “zone” or being in the “zone.” Now, Jeff Lazarus, MD, explains a technique that will show you how to remain even more focused while participating in your chosen sport. It’s called the “Zone Of Optimal Performance”.
Sports performance is ideal for clinical hypnosis. This video shows highlights from the talk given by Jeffrey Lazarus MD at the Nike Coaches Conference on how visualization has been demonstrated to impact the performance of athletes when it matters most.
“I am a firm believer in positive visualization. Before every training or game with the national soccer team, I spent moments visualizing myself in scenarios, with each resulting in positive outcomes. Then when those “real” moments on the field happened, I was prepared and calm to attack the challenge at hand, knowing I had seen it before and knew how I could be successful. As athletes, we all train our bodies to be physically ready, but it is the individuals/teams that spend time on the psychology of sport who are the most prepared to challenge themselves on the next level.”
–Brandi Chastain, former member of the United States Women’s National Soccer Team and winner of two Women’s World Cup championships, two Olympic gold medals, and an Olympic silver medal.
Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Joe DiMaggio are well-known for their use of self-hypnosis.
Dr. Lazarus also incorporates cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques when he sees patients with any type of anxiety. CBT has been shown to be extremely effective for anxiety of all sorts, and Dr. Lazarus has found that by using a combination of medical hypnosis and CBT, his patients not only learn some extremely powerful tools, but they also have significant improvement after only 1 to 3 visits.
Download Advice for Young Athletes from Nomar Garciaparra (PDF) Dr. Lazarus met baseball legend Nomar Garciaparra at a fund-raising event hosted by Brandi Chastain and had an opportunity to ask him a few questions.
Visualization & Imagery for Swimming
Sara Isaković, 2008 Olympic Silver Medalist in the 200m Freestyle, talks with Dr. Lazarus about her use of visualization and imagery to help her succeed in swimming.