Mind over matter. It’s no secret in sports that the power of the mind comes into play as much (if not more) as the physical aspects of the game. Increasingly, professional athletes across the board are turning to Mental Performance Coaches to power up the mental aspect of their game. The NBA is a fan. Nearly half of the 30 teams have a Mental Performance Coach on staff or on call. I’m not surprised that so many of the teams that make up the NBA use this type of tool. It grants a competitive advantage. Whether an athlete is trying to break out of a slump, manage the stress of his personal life, or simply take his game to the next level—a coach just for the mind enables the athlete to quiet his mind, squelch self doubt, shut out crowd noise / distraction and neutralize stress. As a result, all that talent and training is available to work at optimal level.
Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki, an 18 year veteran, thinks this type of service should definitely be made available to athletes, especially young players as they learn to navigate their new life as a pro. Antawn Jamison learned to do it with the help of the team psychologist during his rookie year with the Golden State Warriors. He credits his mental performance coach with helping him thrive that rookie season as he learned to deal with being away from home, his family and friends, understanding where the coach is coming from, not playing well and generally the business of being a grown up—all while immersed in the heady experience of having gone pro. Jamison is quoted as saying, “It was a way for me to keep my sanity. One bad year not having somebody to guide you in the right direction could really make or break you.” Agreed.
A mental performance coach can take the form of a psychologist or sports hypnotist.Hypnosis has the distinct benefit of working on the subconscious level with immediate improvement in the first session. Subsequent sessions expand and fine tune those improvements for lasting results.
Using a mental performance coach shouldn’t be limited to the pros. Athletes at all ages and levels can incorporate work with a mental performance coach into their personal training regimen and should; particularly elite athletes starting out at a young age. Learning to reduce stress while playing not only improves performance but goes a long way toward keeping fun in the game, this in turn can help prevent burn out.
A client of mine once said, “I have coaches and trainers for my body, why wouldn’t I have one for my mind?” Indeed.
About the author: Mona Jones is a Certified Hypnotist in Orange County, California who works with elite athletes at all levels on the mental aspect of their game using hypnosis and other non-trance techniques. Her clients compete domestically and internationally in a wide variety of sports.