Improving Football Performance with Hypnosis – Hypnotherapy in Ely
I’ve written many times before about the research and evidence for improving sports performance using hypnosis and sports psychology. In any sport, including football that I am talking about here, your mindset plays an influential role in your performance.
Using football performance hypnosis can help you to improve your soccer performance through management of your emotional levels, effective visualisation and harnessing your self-talk constructively. You can draw upon previous successful performances, learn from role models, build your sense of self belief and capability and prime your mind for successful performance.
Using these psychological techniques and strategies can help you with staying focused, decision making, skill development and handling challenges. When things aren’t going well for you or the team, or you make a mistake, how you orchestrate your thoughts and feelings will have a massive impact on whether you bounce back or let your performance deteriorate.
I find it fascinating watching football due to the emotions and psychology involved. Some players rise under pressure and goading from the opposition and perform at their best, while other sink under the weight of it all. Some players look like they want to be there and to play and seem to have endless energy and insight, while others are lethargic and lack belief in themselves. And when things go wrong, such as missing a penalty, losing the ball or a mistimed tackle, a player can either refocus and get back on with it, or a lack of belief or the ‘red mist’ ruin the rest of their game.
Whatever your position on the pitch, you will benefit from confidence and a belief in your own ability. You can call upon psychological techniques to improve your ability to bring the ball under control, to complete successful passes and to make successful tackles.
Research suggests that hypnosis can help you to improve your soccer performance. If you want to consistently play at your best, then football performance hypnosis may be the strategy that helps you get there and stay there.
Hypnosis For Sports Performance
Research has demonstrated that hypnosis can be a very effective tool for helping you to enhance and improve your sports performance.
Hypnosis has been shown to be effective for improving performance in a variety of sports, with the strongest support for enhancement of basketball, golf, soccer and badminton skills. There is also evidence that hypnosis may be useful for enhancing performance in cricket and weight-lifting, as well as precision sports like archery and throwing accuracy (Milling & Randazzo, 2016).
Milling and Randazzo (2016) carried out a review of sports hypnosis. They presented a comprehensive and methodological review of controlled and single case design studies of the effectiveness of hypnosis for enhancing sports performance. In their paper they describe some of the common psychological interventions used to enhance sports performance. These include visualization (or mental rehearsal), learning to modify and direct self-talk during training and competition, arousal regulation (e.g. to decrease anxiety) and goal setting around improved performance.
In their review they found that ‘Hypnosis was shown to be effective for improving performance in a variety of sports, with the strongest support for enhancement of basketball, golf, soccer and badminton skills.‘ They also concluded that there was preliminary evidence that hypnosis may be useful for enhancing performance in cricket and weight-lifting, as well as precision sports like archery and throwing accuracy.
There’s more on this research here: Hypnosis For Sports Performance – Research and Evidence and Sports Psychology & Performance: Hypnosis For Peak Performance
Hypnosis for sports performance can also help you to build confidence and self-belief, reduce anxiety and stress and to develop motivations and focus in your training and matches. And here we have the research and evidence that shows hypnosis to be effective for improving performance in soccer.
Hypnosis For Soccer Performance
Research has examined the effects of a soccer psychological skills intervention, comprising relaxation, imagery and self-talk, on midfielder performance (Thelwell, Greenlees and Weston, 2006).
The participants soccer players received psychological training that included relaxation, imagery and self talk. Participants were trained in progressive muscle relaxation, centering and breathing techniques to help them to develop the ability to manage tension and relaxation levels during a match. Managing tension can be particularly relevant when performance isn’t going well, such as after making a mistake, a bad first touch or losing control of the ball (which can lead to increased tension and so more performance errors).
Training on imagery to benefit soccer performance included having the players use imagery to see and feel a successful first touch, recovery from a poor first touch, a successful pass, recovery from an incomplete pass, completion of a successful tackle or recovery from a missed or mistimed tackle in a variety of competition scenarios. In addition, the players were helped to construct positive self-talk and the use of key words and competition affirmations to benefit them both before and during a competition. They were also shown how to restructure unwanted negative thoughts to positive, motivational or challenging thoughts, which would be more beneficial to effective performance.
Now, all of these elements and components are those that I employ with soccer players to aid and benefit their performance. If we think of hypnosis as getting mentally calm and physically relaxed to use our normal psychological processes towards specific goals, then these factors certainly support the use of hypnosis to improve football performance.
This study examined the effectiveness of a psychological skills intervention, developed with soccer midfielder-specific requirements in mind, throughout a competitive league season. They found that an intervention comprising relaxation, imagery and self-talk enabled each participant to achieve at least small improvements in successful first touch (where the ball is brought under control within one touch), successful passes (one that reaches a team member), and successful tackles (completion of a legal tackle and gaining possession of the ball).
“The results of the study indicated the position-specific intervention to enable at least small improvements on the three dependent variables for each participant. Social validation data indicated all participants to perceive the intervention as being successful and appropriate to their needs. The findings provide further evidence to suggest the efficacy of sport, and position-specific interventions.”
Whilst this study didn’t specifically employ football performance hypnosis, the psychological skills involved were very much akin to strategies that can be beneficially utilised within hypnosis for sports performance.
A further study specifically examined the effects of hypnosis on soccer ability (Barker, Jones and Greenlees, 2010). Participants in the hypnosis group received three sessions of hypnosis and the control group watched videos of professional soccer games. Performance was assessed using a soccer wall-volley task in which participants continuously kick a soccer ball at a target.
Results indicated that, following the intervention, the hypnosis group were more efficacious and performed better than the control group. These differences were also seen at the 4-week follow-up stage. “The study demonstrates that hypnosis can be used to enhance and maintain self-efficacy and soccer wall-volley performance.”
In essence, the hypnosis helped the footballers to increase their accuracy in this task. Also important here is the positive influence of hypnosis on self-efficacy levels. Self-efficacy, which we can summarise as your belief in your own ability to successfully perform behaviour, has been shown to influence your sports performance. Self-efficacy influences your motivation behaviour, thoughts patterns and emotional responses, and those with higher self efficacy levels will likely work harder, stay on task longer, and achieve at higher levels than those with low self-efficacy. Given this, any interventions that increase your self efficacy will support you in attaining higher levels of performance (Barker, Jones and Greenlees, 2013).
Improving Your Football Performance
The evidence above suggests that hypnosis and sports psychology techniques can help you to improve your football performance. Building upon this, here’s a technique that you can start using to boost soccer performance right away.
Before going ahead, have a think about a past successful football performance; this could be a time in training or in match when you played well and that you consider to have been a successful performance for you.
1. Ensuring you are sitting somewhere quiet, take a deep breath and close your eyes. If you know self-hypnosis techniques you could incorporate these here. Start to extend your out breath and say the word ‘relax’ to yourself on every breath out. You could tense and relax each part of your body or tell yourself that each part of your body is relaxing. You could imagine a calm colour or sensation spreading through you or fill your mind with a relaxing sound. You could engage your imagination and imagine being in a remembered or created place of calmness, seeing the sights and hearing the sounds. Or you can draw upon and utilise any other ways that allow you to feel comfortable, calm and relaxed. Your aim here is just to feel as safe, calm and comfortable as you can right now.
You can also use either of the processes covered in these articles: The Eye Fixation Induction In Hypnosis, Mindfulness For Anxiety, Stress and Promoting Mental Health
2. Now bring to mind a time that you consider to have been a successful performance, a time when you played at your best and you felt good about your playing in some way (whether from training or in a competitive match). Recall it as vividly as you can and imagine being back in that moment now, like you are there again, seeing what you saw, hearing what you heard and feeling the feelings of successfully playing well.
There may be aspects of your ball control, passing accuracy and successful tackling that you notice. Maybe your positioning and decision making was spot on. Perhaps your focus, confidence and motivation levels were high. And maybe it was in your movement or your shooting accuracy. Whatever those aspects of your play that you were most pleased with during this successful performance, really be aware of and notice them clearly.
Notice the colours, shades of light and the details. Notice the sounds nearby and any further away, and run through this time where you felt accomplished, you played well, you felt accomplished or you enjoyed a successful performance. Run through it in your imagination as vividly and with as much detail as you can.
3. As you run through this time, notice all the things that tell you that you are playing well. Be aware of how you hold your body, your movements, the kind of thoughts you think to yourself and the kind of emotions, sensations and feelings you experience. Notice and be aware of your self belief, your focus, motivation, persistence, determination and confidence as you play. You can imagine the positive feelings spreading through you those good feelings throughout you. Imagine amplifying and magnifying those feelings. Remind yourself of what you accomplished here and of how capable your are and that you played successfully here.
4. Keeping those thoughts and feelings, and the confidence and sense of capability, in mind from that successful performance, now, start to imagine watching yourself on a big movie screen successfully playing and performing how you want to, the next time to you play. Imagine watching yourself playing with self-belief and confidence, being focused, making good decisions and handling any obstacles you face. Notice yourself performing well in your touch and control, in your passing, your shooting, your movement and your tackling. Really imagine watching yourself playing to the best of your potential and all the while thinking the thoughts, feelings the feelings and taking the actions that mean everything in your playing is exactly how you want it to be.
As you watch yourself playing successfully and performing well, notice it’s there in your posture, in the look behind your eyes, in the expression on your face. Notice the way you move and breath and talk to others, as well as the positive, confident and encouraging things you say to yourself. Have it there in your mindset and attitude, in your actions and interactions, in your thoughts and your feelings. Really imagine watching yourself playing to the best of your ability with confidence and self-belief.
5. As you watch yourself in your imagination performing well and achieving the performance you desire, think to yourself ‘I just know that’s going to happen.’ Think it to yourself like you really mean it, ‘I just know that’s going to happen’, in the same way you know that if you drop a brick it will fall to the floor, or in the same way you know your name or that grass is green, think it with really belief and undeniable conviction. As you watch yourself thinking, feeling and doing everything exactly as you want it to be, really think to yourself how you can do this, how you’re capable of doing this and how you believe in yourself to achieve this and to play in this way.
6. And knowing that it’s just going to happen, now imagine stepping into this version of you. See through these eyes, hear with the ears and feel the feelings of this you perform and play successfully. Play through it inside your mind, and experience being this version of you in every way. Run through things as you get ready to play, as you warm-up, through the training session or match and all the way through to successfully having achieved your goal and performed to the best of your ability at the end of the game. Imagine playing with the positive feelings, coping with things effectively and being encouraging and confident in your self-talk. See, hear and be this you and mentally rehearse this performance inside your mind.
Your touch is good, you move and position yourself well, your touch and ball control are spot on. You pass accurately, your tackling is effective and you strike the ball well. Your focus and decision making flow naturally and you play with confidence, self-belief, motivation and focus.
Really think to yourself how you know you are capable of this and how you know with conviction that you can do this. Affirm it to yourself with real belief so that you know that it’s just going to happen and where it strengthens your sense of focus, confidence and self-belief.
5. Then, having done so, and knowing that it’s just going to happen, and knowing that you’ve got this, now, count up from 1 up to 5 inside your mind, open your eyes and reorientate yourself to your surroundings.
I hope you enjoy this technique for improving soccer performance and that you find it positive and beneficial for your playing. There are many other psychological strategies and techniques that can help you to harness your thoughts, feelings, actions and reactions so that you play with confidence in your ability and so that you perform to your best. That way, when the final whistle blows, you can feel happy, proud and satisfied with another successful game.
To your soccer success,
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Barker, J., Jones, M. and Greenlees, I., 2010. Assessing the immediate and maintained effects of hypnosis on self-efficacy and soccer wall-volley performance. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 32(2), pp.243-252.
Barker, J.B., Jones, M.V. and Greenlees, I., 2013. Using hypnosis to enhance self-efficacy in sport performers. Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology, 7(3), pp.228-247.
Milling, L.S. and Randazzo, E.S., 2016. Enhancing sports performance with hypnosis: An ode for Tiger Woods. Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice, 3(1), p.45.
Thelwell, R.C., Greenlees, I.A. and Weston, N.J., 2006. Using psychological skills training to develop soccer performance. Journal of applied sport psychology, 18(3), pp.254-270.