Over the years, thousands of athletes have asked me what their minds should be thinking about when they compete?
In many instances, I train athletes to simplify their sport as much as possible and focus on just one thing or to learn how to empty their mind and to trust and to allow their athleticism and training to do what the competitive situation requires them to do.
The empty mind is usually a bit more complicated for athletes to learn and to master.
Consequently, we often begin to teach athletes how to quiet their minds with training in hypnosis, self-hypnosis, mediation, guided imagery and visualization.
Many athletes, however, find success by starting their mental training with the discovery and creation of a mantra that they can repeat to themselves prior to competing and during the heat of battle.
A baseball batter would tell him self to look for a ball that he could hit into the gap.
Another baseball player used to say to him self, “See it. Hit it.”
A golfer had a little prayer that he would say before striking the ball,
“God grant the courage to not swing hard.”
A long distance runner who liked to take the lead in races would sing to himself the song with the lyrics, “Catch me if you can.”
Recently, a top fencer who was preparing for an international event came to see this author to get mentally ready for this important tournament.
After talking about being “out of the zone” and “in the zone,” I told her that I think I have a mantra that would work well for her.
I explained that I had counseled many boxers and MMA fighters and that it was important for them to maintain a simple approach and simple kind of focus when they were competing.
Like boxing, offense and defense change second by second in fencing.
Boxers have a thought or a mantra that they utilize in the ring:
“Make him miss. And make him pay.”
I added a derivative of this, “Make him pay. Make him miss.”
These two phrases seemed to really resonate with this elite fencer.
I then hypnotized her and asked her to imagine fencing with these ideas in her mind.
I could see that she was really absorbed and comfortable with this approach.
I wrote the mantras down for her and suggested that she put them in her bag and repeat this phrase over and over again.
This case is a good example of discovering and utilizing a mantra and hypnosis to help an athlete enter the zone more often.
This fencer did so well with this mantra that she was able to make two national teams using this method.
Sometimes, we discover the right mantra through a collaborative discussion.
In other instances, I help the athlete to choose their mantra by placing them in a hypnotic trance.
Elite athletes and weekend warriors can all benefit from discovering and utilizing a mantra that helps them to enter the zone more often.
Jay P. Granat, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist and the founder of www.StayInTheZone.com
He has appeared in many major media outlets and he has authored a dozen self-help programs.
He can be reached at 888 580-ZONE or at firstname.lastname@example.org