Chuck was a high school sophomore who played on the junior varsity basketball team. His father contacted me about his son’s tentative approach on the court and wondered if hypnosis could help. I described the hypnosis process and sent a brochure, but never heard back until a year later, when Chuck was on the varsity team. Chuck wanted to be a starting forward, and knew he had the skills; however he always came up short on the aggressive front, especially when the game was on the line.
Chuck made the team and continued to get his chances based on his practice performances. In the gym, he was a rebounding machine, and always dove across the floor for loose balls. At practice his nickname was “madman.” What propelled Chuck to pursue hypnosis occurred during one of his team’s games; he overheard a teammate refer to him as the “madam” instead of “madman.”
Chuck described going into “the zone” during practice where all that mattered was getting the ball and winning. At game time he was tentative, playing not to lose rather than playing to win. I told Chuck it was great that he didn’t need to learn how to be a winner in game situations that he already had all the skill and ability he needed. He just needed to unleash it when it counts the most.
In our first hypnosis session, I asked Chuck to recreate a particular practice in his thoughts. I wanted him to recall his most dominant practice. Chuck and his Dad both smiled, they knew exactly when it was. As a junior varsity sophomore he was asked to fill in with the varsity team practice.
He was catching a lot of flack by the varsity team because some of them thought he didn’t belong on their court. When Chuck caught an elbow to the head while going for a rebound, he knew he was being tested. Chuck passed the test. For the next two hours he put on a rebounding clinic. He carried his newfound confidence into every practice, but it never made it into game time.
My approach in our first hypnosis session was to amp up how good Chuck felt at practice. In hypnosis, I asked him to recall a recent practice and then had him imagine a magnifying glass over the image so it felt even bigger and better to him. I asked him to inhale all of the confidence, mobility, and skill he had that day, inhale it so it saturates down to a cellular level and begins to replicate within him.
As the session continued, I asked him to walk through the door of the practice gym. I explained that this door would open up into an opposing team’s gym and he would walk right out into the middle of a conference finals playoff game. As soon as he stepped through he would hear his name over the public address system announcing his insertion into a very important part of the game.
The twist with this scenario was that he got to carry all the confidence, mobility and skill he just created with him. In this game he was still the practice madman. So I told him to have fun, get into flow and do his thing; rebounding, boxing out and scrambling for the ball. All cylinders were firing and he was playing the game of his life. I gave him a moment of silence so he could fill in the blanks on his own.
At the conclusion of the session Chuck was quite enthused. He said it felt like he was really there. He felt like a major barrier had fallen and he could confidently move forward. The remaining two sessions involved some techniques which enabled Chuck to encapsulate all the past doubts so he would be completely free from now on as well as self-hypnosis training so he could recreate these empowering thoughts and images anytime he chose.
Chuck made the all-star team that year. His father sent me some newspaper clippings of Chuck leaping for a rebound. Many individuals get hung up on self-doubt and limit our expectations and accomplishments. I believe that the only limits we experience are self-imposed and hypnosis is the fastest most effective way to break through barriers and claim our true potential.
By: Paul Gustafson RN CH