Hypnotism is becoming a more popular mental exercise among professional athletes. Tiger Woods has been known to seek help from hypnotists. There are a lot of myths about hypnotism. It is not like how you see it in the movies. It does not magically force people to do crazy things. This is how it actually works:

The subconscious mind is very susceptible to suggestions. If your subconscious mind is fed certain messages, it will start to believe in them. The purpose of hypnosis is to get your mind in a state where it is susceptible to suggestions. A calm, relaxed mind is best for this. Once a hypnotist quiets your rational mind, and gets you in a relaxed state of mind, he may start saying positive affirmations such as “You are unstoppable when you trust your instincts,” or "Your fastball is accurate anywhere in the strike zone." If done well, these suggestions will be “planted” in your subconscious mind. Because of this, you will have a deeper conviction in these affirmations, therefore your confidence will improve in games. Your motor skills are controlled by your unconscious mind, so if your unconscious mind is fed positive instead of negative messages/affirmations, you will execute your motor skills with less doubts/tightness/nervousness. That is the rationale behind hypnosis. Here is how you can do self-hypnosis so you don’t have to pay someone for their service:

1. To get yourself in a relaxed state of mind, meditate and relax your muscles.
2. Tell yourself affirmations, have a friend say them, or have them played on a recording. Here are some guidelines for good affirmations:

  • They can be about anything related to your sport, just make sure they are positive. They can be about being confident, motivated, relaxed, smart, or performing and executing specific skills well.
  • They should be stated positively, not negatively. For example, you should say “I work hard and perform well in games, instead of “I never make mistakes in games.”
  • But don’t make them too complicated and difficult to think about. The point is to keep your rational mind quiet while hearing the affirmations.
Much of the effectiveness of hypnosis depends on your willingness to cooperate. The suggestions won’t do anything if you don’t let them. If you think “This is stupid. This doesn’t work,” then it won’t work because your conscious mind is not quiet enough. You must believe it works to help keep your mind relaxed. But on the other hand, don’t think hypnosis will magically make you ten times better. It’s not that great. Like any mental exercise, it’s not a replacement for plain hard work. It’s just a supplement that can be effective if you use it properly and consistently.