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Many sports psychologists believe that 80-90% of an athlete's performance is in the mind. Some research backs this up, indicating that sports performance is more to do with mental ability than physical ability.

Many athletes and sports men and women train and train and then train some more, pushing themselves physically to improve their game, their performance or manoeuvre. And of course, this is all vital if you want to be the best at something or to be your best. But sometimes, that just doesn't seem to be enough.

If you've ever felt that you could achieve more, despite the amount of practise and training you put in, then maybe there's some form of psychological barrier preventing you from doing so. It could be a mental block, stress or a lack of focus and concentration. Maybe you start doubting your ability or over-think a move. All this can then affect your confidence and self-belief.

With the use of hypnosis and NLP techniques, we can use visualisation, anchoring (more on that later), positive suggestion and a whole realm of other techniques to enable you to focus fully on your goal; to relieve physical conditions such as stress, tension, butterflies or shortness of breath. We can work to overcome any mental blocks that may be inhibiting your performance, removing negative thoughts or beliefs and increasing your self-belief. Concentration, calm, confidence and motivation can be boosted and distractions overcome.

Anchoring, as mentioned earlier, is a very effective technique that can be used to elicit a response to an internal or external stimulus or trigger. What this basically means, is that we can induce a very strong sense of calm or focus or confidence, whatever it is you're seeking, by associating the physical and psychological responses you experience during these situations, with a trigger. That trigger can then be something as simple as squeezing together a finger and thumb. In the future, whenever that finger and thumb are squeezed together, the positive feelings you have then associated with that action come flooding through you; the calm, focus, confidence, etc. Sounds simple, and it is. It's also highly effective and can be used in all sorts of situations. The more you use it, the better it gets!

Tiger Woods and Johnny Wilkinson are two of the most famous sporting personalities who have used the techniques employed through hypnosis and NLP. Johnny Wilkinson famously clasps his hands together before he takes a kick. The clasped hands allow him to focus, cutting out the distraction and noise of thousands of fans surrounding him. It removes all doubts as to whether or not the ball is placed properly or lined up properly. It slows down his breathing, relaxes him and 'centres' him, channelling his energy down his left leg into his foot to give him the power and accuracy required to kick the ball perfectly.

Tiger Woods uses similar techniques to enable him to focus and relax with each shot he takes and if he does have a bad shot, he mentally draws a white line across the fairway and when he physically walks across that line, the bad shot is relegated to the past and he becomes 100% focused on the next. This is such an important skill to learn, to focus on the present and forget the past. If you make a bad start to a round of golf, or whatever it is you're doing, resist the temptation to try and correct it straightaway, but instead focus on each hole as if it were the first.

In an average round of golf, the casual golfer has between 70 and 100 chances of getting their swing right...or wrong! As with all sports, visualisation is key. The brain has difficulty distinguishing between imagining something and actually doing it. So, if you imagine doing something really well, your mind is capable of making it happen.

Over the years, I have successfully helped many young and not-so-young sporting enthusiasts and athletes become better at their game. Whether it be the focus you require to achieve your goal, the ability to run through your pain barrier, the confidence to start believing in your capabilities or the relaxation to stop over-thinking your swing, whatever it is, give me a call to see if I can help you. Hypnosis can be used to help those with running, football, rugby, cricket, boxing, swimming, golf, darts and many more. Get that edge by becoming mentally stronger. Being able to control your state of mind will give you that psychological advantage to succeed.