How Athletes Can Benefit from Hypnotherapy 

How Athletes Can Benefit from Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy Can Relieve Stress

Lark Ericson, a certified hypnotherapist and life coach, works with a number of sports kids, and begins by explaining to them how hypnotherapy can help, she said during an interview with our Ultimate Sports Parent podcast.

For kids who might be resistant to the idea, she frames her work as learning about kids’ challenges, rather than fixing their problems.

“If I present it like, ‘I need some help. I’m learning this,’ they are so eager to be helpful. They get really excited and energetic and it’s a different way to frame it instead of ‘I’m going to help you fix this problem,’” she said.

Ericson often works with sports kids struggling with comparing themselves to others as well as kids experiencing performance anxiety, she said.

“First of all, there are general self-esteem issues, where the kids don’t think that they are good at what they do. And that really stems from comparing themselves with the other kids,” she said. 

“So if somebody is better at making goals, somebody runs fast, somebody’s time is better, they’re really focused on comparing themselves to what that other kid is doing versus seeing how they’re doing.”

Performance anxiety also crops up as a big challenge. Often, kids who practice and train hard and are physically and mentally fit still “freak out” during games or events, Ericson said.

To address these challenges, Ericson uses hypnotherapy to help reduce the intensity of kids’ emotions so emotions are less distracting during competitions and games.

She begins by talking to young athletes about how they experience stress and thoughts that undermine their self-esteem.

She focuses on the terminology they use so she can refer to that terminology during hypnosis.

During hypnosis, she asks kids to relax their bodies and pay attention to their breathing, then offers to take them on a walk in their minds. She then discusses experiences of feeling successful.

“And then I’ll walk them through an actual event that they’re going to do, whether it’s the sporting event or the competition, and we’ll go through each little piece of it. And during that, I’ll actually raise their stress or anxiety just a little bit so that they have the opportunity to bring it down themselves,” Ericson said. That gives them experience lowering anxiety levels.

Then, when they’re playing or performing, they can tell themselves they know how to reel in the stress and anxiety. This differs from visualization, Ericson said.

“If I were to do a guided meditation (visualization), I would just let them experience something really comfortable, really nice. Everybody loves that. But with hypnosis, I would really want to dive into what they are experiencing,” she said. 

She wants to know: What happens to prompt the kids to feel anxious or stressed?

“And then oftentimes during the hypnosis, I will bring them into having the feelings of stress or anxiety, and I’ll take the feelings away,” she said.

Often, kids naturally, a few weeks later, start feeling less stress or anxiety.

“It’s like it happens without you having to remember to choose to make it happen,” Ericson said. 

“It’s kind of funny because if you get the experience of hypnosis and you think, ‘oh, well, that was a funny little 45 minute,’ nothing’s going to happen with that. And then maybe a week or two later, you just suddenly realize, ‘oh, I’m not doing that thing I used to do or I’m not bothered the way I used to be or I’m not stressed the way I used to be,’” she said.

Listen to the full podcast with Ericson at Spotify:

*Subscribe to The Sports Psychology Podcast on iTunes
*Subscribe to The Sports Psychology Podcast on Spotify

Improve Your Mental Game From Anywhere In The World

We’re certain that, as a parent, you want to help your child develop confidence and discipline in sports and life. And as a sports parent, you’d love for your children to reach their potential in sports. But encouraging your child to strive for greatness without pressuring them can be a challenge.

You can get expert mental coaching with us from anywhere. Meet with us via Zoom, Skype, FaceTime or phone call. With today’s video technology, we are able to connect with athletes and coaches all over the globe.

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