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Hypnosis Research (Sports)

Hypnosis Research (Sports)

For today’™s blog I have highlighted four studies linked with hypnosis and sports. I will give some of my own comments on the applicability of the research in the work of hypnotherapy/hypno-psychotherapy in practice. It is my hope that these papers will help to give you a greater insight into the effectiveness of hypnotherapy

Sheckell, E. (2007) Mind over matter: Mental training increases physical strength. North American Journal of Psychology. Vol 9(1) pp. 189-200

Abstract: This study tested whether mental training alone can produce a gain in muscular strength. Thirty male university athletes, including football, basketball and rugby players, were randomly assigned to perform mental training of their hip flexor muscles, to use weight machines to physically exercise their hip flexors, or to form a control group which received neither mental nor physical training. The hip strength of each group was measured before and after training. Physical strength was increased by 24% through mental practice (p = .008). Strength was also increased through physical training, by 28%, but did not change significantly in the control condition. The strength gain was greatest among the football players given mental training. Mental and physical training produced similar decreases in heart rate, and both yielded a marginal reduction in systolic blood pressure. The results support the related findings of Ranganathan, Siemionow, Liu, Sahgal, and Yue (2004).

Comments: I thought of including the paper mentioned at the end of the above, but it was so similar that I decided not. Great statistics to use as convincers, aren’t they? With any client, not just sports people.

Thelwell, R. et al. (2006) Using Psychological Skills Training to Develop Soccer Performance. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology. Vol 18(3), pp. 254-270

Abstract: The present study examined the effects of a soccer, midfielder-specific psychological skills intervention comprising relaxation, imagery and self-talk on position-specific performance measures. Using a multiple-baseline-across-individuals design, five participants had three performance subcomponents assessed across nine competitive matches. 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. Suggestions for future research are provided.

Comments: How much more powerful would the effects be if formal hypnosis was used? We all know that it adds to efficacy of intervention, not least due to expectation factors

Malouff, J. & Murphy, C. (2006) Effects of Self-Instructions on Sport Performance. Journal of Sport Behavior. Vol 29(2), pp. 159-168

Abstract: This article describes an experiment that tested whether using self-instructions would improve sport performance. For the study, 100 adults, randomly assigned to either an intervention group or a control group, competed in a putting tournament. The intervention group members were asked to give themselves a self-instruction of their choice, e.g., “body still,” before each putt. The control group members received instructions to putt as usual. The self-instruction golfers needed significantly fewer putts than the golfers in the control condition to complete 12 holes, each with a starting putt of about 12 feet. The self-instruction golfers as a group reported that they thought they were putting better than normal, while the golfers in the control condition thought they were putting at about their usual level of performance. The results add to prior evidence that self-instructions can improve sport performance.

Comments: Again, how much more effective would the self-instruction process be with formal self-hypnosis?

Pates. J. et al. (2002) The Effects of Hypnosis on Flow States and Three-Point Shooting Performance in Bastketball Players. Sport Psychologist [Sport Psychol.]. Vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 34-47

Abstract: This study examined the effects of hypnosis on flow states and three-point shooting performance in 5 collegiate basketball players. The investigation utilized an ideographic single-subject multiple baselines across subjects design combined with a procedure that monitors the internal experience of the participants (Wollman, 1986). The method of intervention utilized in this study involved relaxation, imagery, hypnotic induction, hypnotic regression, and trigger control procedures. The results indicated that all five participants increased both their mean basketball three-point shooting performance and their mean flow scores from baseline to intervention. There were no overlapping data points between the baseline and intervention for either performance or flow state. Additionally, each participant indicated that they had felt the intervention was useful in keeping them confident, relaxed, and calm. These results support the hypothesis that a hypnosis intervention can improve three-point shooting performance in basketball players and increase feelings and cognitions that are associated with flow

Comments: Although this study is in a very specific area of sport, there is no reason to presume that it is not replicable across many subtasks of many sports. There are many that have similar dimensions requiring relaxation, focus and flow.

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